During my commute this morning, I counted a number of expletives I said in my thoughts on the way to work.
Expletive, I have to get up.
Expletive, the train isn’t here.
Expletive, I might not be able to get my coffee.
And, all of those things happen nearly every weekday morning because I hate waking up in the morning.
This is a simple, first world problem that you learn to overcome when you start your first job. I’m at my 20th job, and I still find it difficult to do some things every Monday. I’m not happy to admit that I still struggle with simple, basic tasks, but enough people write about these every day, that I know there is an audience that struggles with them as well. So, honestly, I’m going to share the struggles that are real and how I’ve learned to overcome them.
These are the three things I struggle with every Monday.
I struggle with being on time to work.
In school, you learn the importance of punctuality. You get a detention at school. You can lose the job or be cut from the soccer team.
Part 1 of being on time.
Being on time sends a signal to you and other people in the room that you are focused, and you are taking whatever event, job, or task seriously.
Part 2 of being on time.
But the other component is that you want to show up on time and with the right mindset, ready to go. Every morning, you may start your computer, make coffee, ask your coworker a mindless question, but you know you’re ready for work when you are on time and willing to work. You are prepared to show up dressed nicely, you have a smile on, and you have all of the materials to make this the best work day.
If you are struggling in this area, take note that just because you wake up 10 minutes earlier doesn’t mean you can start doing your hair and makeup and making breakfast in the morning. I found that I was still rushing in the morning, despite waking up earlier. So, as a remedy, I made a few changes.
I started getting up 30 minutes earlier.
I left 10 minutes earlier than I usually would leave my house.
I started doing my makeup on the train and styling my hair the night before.
I planned my calendar for the week and picked out my outfits on Sunday so that a) I still had time to do laundry and b) I was prepared for whatever event I had to attend after work.
I brought my breakfast with me for the week, so I didn’t have to think about it.
I started drinking the office coffee instead of going to 7/11 every morning. (I still go there, though).
Now, I’m still not perfect at getting into work 15 minutes earlier or being completely put together in the morning, but I do feel happier when I walk into the office because I took the time to put intention into my workday and start it off on time and smiling.
I struggle with going to the gym.
I hate thinking about going to the gym. I think so much about going to the gym that it feels like I went there because of the amount of mental effort dedicated to getting ramped up to go there. To be honest, I love a good workout. I love sweating. I love feeling stronger. I love stretching longer in yoga or running that .3 miles per hour faster during a run, but putting on the clothes and going to the gym has always been a dread for me.
So, I decided to change my mindset.
Don’t think about it.
First, I had to make sure I wasn’t thinking about it. So, I picked out a few classes at the gym. They were at convenient times when I would already be awake. Sorry, I’m not magically going to wake up at 5 am for spin when I don’t get up till 7:45 am every day.
I started going to the gym when I had more energy. I found that if I waited until the end of the day, I would either forgo my other social plans or would have to be tired. So, I started going to the gym during my lunch break. This helped me have a more intense workout because of the time crunch, and it helped me look forward to working out. I hate sitting all day. I hate it.
Lastly, unless you look sexy in yoga pants, you don’t have the desire to go to the gym. I always feel awkward working out under fluorescent lights with everyone bored out of their minds, so they look at you. So, I’ve decided to take classes or go for a swim or go during off hours.
I’ll keep you posted on my gym body.
I struggle with putting in my all into every task.
This last point is hard to write. I have a hard time focusing. Usually, I find that the jobs are not that hard, I have just built them up in my mind as these enormous obstacles, which makes getting work done challenging.
Find your optimal time.
I read The Productivity Project, and one of the key takeaways is that we aren’t meant to be productive all of the time. We have times throughout the day when we are most focused and times when we are not at our optimal performance level. So, I’ve decided to focus on the time of day when I do have more time and attention. I shift my other tasks to when I don’t have much energy.
Find the right medium.
Not only do I find the right time of day to do tasks at work, but I also find the right medium. For instance, I love thinking and reading. But, I need to make sure I’m consuming news and books in the right way. So, for news, I use TheSkimm, a daily newsletter. I also listen to The Daily Show or read a Politico article or listen to NPR morning edition.
For books, I’ve found that I pay attention better when I listen to an audiobook. So, I’ve used free tools like Hoopla Digital, a free online resource linked to your library card and recently subscribed to Audible.
For reading articles, I realize that newsletters, Twitter feeds, etc. have posts that I’m interested in, but I cannot read them all at once. So I save them to Pocket and read them on my commute home or when I need a mental break.
Focusing on the small things takes time. It’s weird because we think that these details should be engraved in us. We should know how to dress nicely, be on time, and stay focused because we essentially have been trained to do that our whole lives. But, if you ignore that you are struggling with the small things then you can’t fix them. And more importantly, you can’t grow into meeting bigger picture goals.
Do you struggle with any of these things? How do you overcome it?
Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.