If you asked me where my days go off the rails, I could tell you. I could, with absolute precision, point to the moment when things go pear-shaped.
It usually happens somewhere between my smoothie and my book. I have the best of intentions; I’ve created a perfect morning routine that’s calm, creative, and most certainly does not includes falling down an internet hole.
But more often than I’d like, I find a reason to pick up my phone. “I absolutely must know the weather forecast!” “I need to check my sleep app!” “What did I write in my Notes yesterday?”
And then I’m checking my email. And then it’s 11:30, I’m still in my pajamas, and I’ve been clicking between tabs for four hours. I wish, dear reader, that I was exaggerating for the sake of humor but I absolutely am not.
Here’s what I’ve discovered: Newton’s first law applies to humans and brains, too.
An object in motion tends to remain in motion. An object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon.
A brain that’s flicking between five social media channels tends to remain flickery and distracted.
A day that begins with cold pizza, three coffees, and two donuts from the break room tends to remain in the land of Not-Super-Healthy choices.
An evening that begins with a Netflix marathon tends to remain in a Netflix loop till we fall asleep on the sofa, drool pooling on our decorative pillows, the dog eating the old maids out of the popcorn bowl.
And while that sounds pretty demoralizing, I’m choosing to see the see the silver lining. If I can nudge myself into good choices for just the first 10 minutes of any part of my day, I much more likely to stay on course for the rest of the day.
If I can stay off social media for those first 10 minutes, it’s much easier to stay off it for the rest of the day. If I can start the post-work portion of my day with a walk, a cup of tea on the deck, or cuddle time with the pets, my evening is less likely to devolve into mindless snacking and Friday Night Lights marathons.If we can keep our ish together for the first 10 minutes of the day, everything goes better. Click To Tweet
Think about how you’d like this part of your day to feel + what you’re hoping to accomplish
Do you want your morning to feel calm, slow, and creative? Do you want to set yourself up for a day of technology-free creating? Then, uh, don’t start you day by looking at your phone. Start with time outside. Start with journaling or drawing or just stretching in your backyard.
Or maybe you want a super focused, productive workday. Wonderful! Then start your workday by staying out of your inbox, away from meetings, and tuck into that big project you’re excited about. You can even schedule this into your calendar as ‘unavailable’ so no one tries to call you or rope you into useless meetings.
Do you want a post-work day that’s filled with socializing and fun? Do you want to meet friends for a meal, a concert, and fill your night with drinks and conversation? Then don’t head home and change into your yoga pants. Slick on a fresh layer of lipgloss, take a chug of coffee, and meet your friends for happy hour!
Identify the pot holes in your day
My phone is a pot hole. My inbox is a pot hole. Any phone call longer than two minutes is a pot hole.
They suck my time and energy and ruin the alignment of my day. I’m driving along, making great time towards my destination, shout-singing a Tom Petty song. Then I look at Instagram and it’s 45 minutes later, I’m distracted and I think my life is boring.
We all have pot holes; we all have habits, activities, and even people that throw us off course. And we probably can’t avoid them completely. I’ll eventually have to read email, talk on the phone, and check Instagram. But if I can just avoid doing those things during the first 10 minutes of any portion of my day, everything goes smoother.
Identify the positive triggers in your day
What good stuff can domino your day into awesome? What things nudge your day in the direction you want it to go?
If you start your morning with a healthy breakfast, will you make healthier choices for the rest of the day? If you begin your workday with coffee and a chat with your favorite co-worker, does the whole day seem more fun and easy? If you come home, kick off your shoes, and drink a cocktail on the patio does your whole evening feel more lovely and intentional?
The same way we all have potholes, we all have positive triggers that can point us + our day in the right direction. If you can figure out what your positive triggers are – a super quick workout, a screen-free meal, time outside – you can lovingly force yourself to do them FOR JUST 10 EVER-LOVING MINUTES and change the rest of your day.
Of course, in a perfect world we’d all have an hour (or two!) for the activities that fill us up and energize us. We’d all have two hours each day for wandering through lavender fields, re-reading L.M. Montgomery books, and having stimulating conversations on rooftops.
Till that happens, I’ll make due by making the first ten minutes of my day as awesome as possible.
But I want to hear from you! What tasks derail your day? What sets you up for the kind of day you want to have? Tell us in the comments!