First Thing in the Morning in Your Thirties

For most of my life, I never really had a morning ritual. Well- I never had a morning ritual that went much beyond putting on my makeup and getting my hair into some sort of acceptable outside-world style.

Then, as I went through my twenties, I started adding new parts to my morning ritual. I got into making green juices in the morning, and then- even better- I got into making green smoothies. I purchased a french press and started making my own coffee every day as well. Lots of liquids. And then I figured out a way to style my hair even quicker than before (by forsaking straightening my crazy waves into heat-damaging oblivion every single day).

Yet even when I had a handle on my morning routine, it always felt like a means to an end. I got nothing super important done in the morning. I usually saved that stuff until the afternoon, when something more pressing usually came up and interrupted it anyway (like lunchtime. Or drinks out. Or a new bunch of emails to return. You know, the important stuff…)

This summer, I hit a wall. I was sick of the days passing me by while some of the most important things I wanted to do daily remained undone. So I started a ‘most important things on my list are the first ones’ habit. And it really started to work.

I’d get up, start some coffee, eat an apple, and meditate (which is very important to me). Then I’d put on my gym clothes and go running or to the gym (also very important). Then I’d come back, make a smoothie, and tackle my to do list or go to work. In this way, I was meditating daily and also getting to the gym before interruptions took over. The first thing in the morning habit really worked. Even though I’m a night owl.

The hardest part has been expanding my morning ritual into other important tasks. It was easy to meditate and run and then get through a to-do list of smaller items like ‘wash dishes. email so-and-so. send invoice.’ It was much harder to meditate and run and   then tackle larger and more important to dos like ‘rewrite resume. practice presentations. watch videos and research new job prospects.’ I was just talking to my friend Janna about this; For whatever reason, the reallly important tasks that could further our lives and careers have been getting pushed by the wayside and out of our days entirely. And this has been happening for a while… kind of sort of like always. Especially on work days where there’s not much time left in the day to tackle tasks other than getting to work.

Our new idea has been to start using the ‘first thing in the morning’ ritual to include these big important tasks right away…and I think it’s best to only focus on one Very Important Task daily.

So to recap, instead of trying to kill a whole to-do list, I’m going to prioritize one big important task a day and only try to do that, starting in the morning. First, I’m still going to start my coffee and have an apple and meditate. Then I’m going to work on the chosen task for an allotted period of time. Only THEN will I tackle the other items.

I think choosing only one large item a day to work on first thing in the morning is helpful. When there’s only one thing to think about, it’s easier to stay focused and not accomplish absolutely zero big important tasks in a day.

What do you think? Do morning rituals help you? How do you accomplish the really big important tasks and not let the days pass you by?

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When I See A Starbucks Red Cup, I Go There

I was thinking the other day of what Jane said about beverages. She was writing about ways to save money in your thirties and she mentioned that her major indulgences were beverages of all kinds. A glass of wine or fancy coffee here or there can add up, but they truly brought moments of happiness, so it was difficult to reconcile stopping them to save money.

As we sat sipping margaritas one day, another good friend of mine who follows the blog brought up that same beverage conundrum Jane wrote about. “I love my nice coffees or glasses of wine or margaritas. These little things make me so happy… I like saving money but I’d lose so much happiness now if I deprived myself of occasional nice drinks.”

And random acts of drinkable kindness do indeed bring me joy as well. Here we are in winter, and the need for cheer runs strong. Whenever it’s cold outside and I see a red Starbucks cup, my Pavlovian-trained mind snaps into action, and I feel the strongest urge for the happiest latte. I not only want to go into Starbucks, but I want to buy the sweetest, warmest, most holiday cheer themed beverage that I can hold in my chilled fingers. Better yet, if that drink was bottomless and refilled automatically, I could hold it all day as a warm fixture of my waking hours.

Starbucks___Red_cup_version_by_Remcow16

Starbucks does a great job with their red winter cups- they’re a signal to my psyche that something nice is in the air. I mean, it’s definitely really good branding, and I won’t deny that they’ve trained people well…but I just let myself fall for it. The advent of the holiday cups invites time for ease, comfort, and celebration during a cold and occasionally stressful time of year. Getting myself an occasional holiday red cup coffee from Starbucks transports me to a cozy state of mind.

starbucks-red-cups-2011

I fight so many habits in my life, and I’m always trying to make the “right” food, money, and job decisions. Having a coffee or a glass of wine or even a smoothie or sparkling water with a friend is an indulgence I’m willing to embrace. A happy red cup of coffee can leave me transported. As long as they’re not in total excess, small indulgences can be bonds shared with others or with yourself. As much as I talk about how I love to save money, certain sweet moments of now I don’t want to save for later.

Also, this article was not sponsored by Starbucks. I wish.

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