For those of you who know me, it’s no secret that I have a Type A personality. I make lists for everything. I’m the epitome of a “perfectionist” — almost. You see, over the last… I don’t know how many years… I’ve fallen into a horrible habit. It’s the opposite of Type A; in fact, people who are just getting to know me are usually pretty shocked by it.
I’m late. For everything. Always.
Okay, always might be overkill. But unfortunately, it’s more likely than not. The first step in coming clean is admitting the problem, right? Kidding… Sort of. You see, I’ve known about this problem for a while. I’m reminded by family and friends how rude it is to show up late. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m never late for really, REALLY important things. (And how do those “things” get categorized in my mind? I haven’t a clue.) But thankfully, I recognize when a consequence exists. I would never show up late to a job interview, a work meeting, or say, a theater when I’ve paid for tickets. But do I cut it close? All the time.
Lucky or unlucky me had never really suffered the consequences for being late. In high school, I had my parents keeping me on time. In college, I was the one running the meetings. With friends and family, well, I know they’ll wait for me. But in the real world? I’m on my own. And most recently, I suffered the consequence of leaving my apartment two minutes too late.
I missed the train. Yep. The girl who has pulled into the lot, sprinted, and made the train on many occasions finally missed it. Serves me right… Doesn’t it? So after sheepishly running into my (still relatively new) job LATE, I decided it was time to reevaluate my mornings. It wasn’t easy, but I’d like to think the solution I came up with can help others, too.
There are lots of things that can cause those can’t-get-out-the-door, inexcusable types of mornings. Part of the problem for me was being too much of a perfectionist and loving just a few more minutes of sleep. It turns out those two things don’t really work so well together. Who would have thought? Anyways, so first – I had to get my butt out of bed. And second, I had to realize that no, the world won’t end if I didn’t make my bed or that yes, my outfit really does look fine. Instead of being perfect, I needed to be productive. When you force yourself to create new habits, eventually they stick. (At least that’s what I told myself — and knock on wood — it worked!)
So being productive… what does that mean? Sure, getting out of bed and getting ready on time. But your bed is just soooo comfortable… Where’s the motivation? (I understand! I was cutting it close and still making the train, remember?) You have to find something new — something productive — to work into your morning routine. It requires just a little bit more time, and if you force yourself to leave time for it, you’ll eventually have a new habit.
This could be anything from making your bed, to reading the homepage of the New York Times website or a local newspaper, to calling your significant other, and/or making (instead of buying!) coffee. My personal productive morning task became making lunch. After I missed the train, I realized I was also getting sick of wasting money and eating not-so-healthy midday meals a couple of times a week. So I decided I needed to leave a little extra time in the morning to make my lunch.
Knowing I had “lunch” food in my fridge that I didn’t want to waste gave me the motivation I needed to get up and get going. It sounds silly, but it’s been working. I refuse to make my lunch the night before – the point is to wake up earlier and get ready AND make my lunch. Sure, it’s a few less minutes in bed, a few less outfit changes, a few less looks in the mirror… that type of thing. But by making it a point to be productive and sticking to it, you’ll find yourself in a more balanced, less chaotic, morning routine.
The way you start your day can really set a tone for the hours to come. Feeling rushed before a long day allows the stress to begin before even setting foot in your office. Take it from me – I’ve learned from experience. Start your day on the right foot… A little productivity goes a long way!