My Excruciating Morning Routine

 

Start every morning with a smile!

I’ll admit it: I have a tough time with mornings! That sinking feeling when I remember that I have to face another day? It’s nearly unbearable.

I think we all know that getting out the door in the morning can be tough. Until the first cup of coffee, my worst enemy is conscious thought. I find that having a little structure is the key to an easy, painful morning. Here’s mine:

6:45 – First alarm goes off. I try to remember who I am.

6:52 – Second alarm goes off. I try to remember where I am.

7:00 – Third alarm goes off. I reset this alarm for 7:05.

7:05 – Fourth alarm goes off. The last alarm. This is a terrible moment.

7:07 – I think about getting out of bed.

7:08 – I actually get out of bed.

7:09 – I brush my teeth and curse the world.

7:12 – I gather my clothes out of a pile of work-wear that lives on a table in the corner. I get back into bed and curl into a little ball.

7:15 – I think, “I should really put on these clothes.”

7:16 – I debate calling in sick, changing my identity, and starting a new life on an island.

7:17 – I put on those clothes.

7:19 – I look for my purse and curse the world.

7:20 – I stumble to the bus stop.

It’s that simple – just those exact steps every day, and I’m out the door in 35 minutes flat. Easy! Breezy! Miserable! If I divert by even one minute, I will never go to work again and my bed will swallow me up forever.

Now it’s your turn! What helps you get going in the morning? 🙂

Bedtime Routine: Sit in Front of as Many Screens as Possible

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This is what it looks like when I sleep.

For most people, the night is reserved for sleeping, and that’s a terrible waste of time. Whether you go to bed late or really late, make the most of that last hour of awakeness so you can rest easy/never.

When it’s time to wind down for the night, get in bed and boot up all your screens at once. No matter how unproductive you were during the day, there’s plenty of time to get things done in the last hour before you grudgingly turn out the lights.

There are lots of ways to do this. I like to play cell phone games while I watch TV on my laptop, but I think you can do better than that. If you have a gaming system and a 47″ plasma screen, now’s the time to fire it up. If not, maybe you have an iPad? A Surface?An Apple Watch? The key here is quantity.

I like to get in bed with my screens, letting the cool blue light hypnotize me until I’m stuck in a state between waking and sleep. It helps if I haven’t brushed my teeth yet, because the dread of getting up to do that will keep me in front of the screens at least 30% longer. You might find that something else works better for you. The key here is general discomfort.

When I finally do turn out the lights, I find myself feeling wired for no reason. Immediately, all the thoughts flood back into my head as soon as I’m not completely numb anymore. You might fall asleep immediately, but studies show that’s unlikely. You do you, though. They key here is regretting it all in the morning.

What screens do you like to use before bed? Tell me in the comments! 🙂

Achieve Your Goals: Reward Your Progress

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We all have goals we’re trying to achieve, and it can be hard to commit to making progress on them. For example, my goal right now is to get more sleep – I’ve been getting headaches and feeling dizzy a lot, so I’m finally compelled to try out basic healthy habits. The problem is, I work at 8am and I love staying up late (I become my best self after midnight). It’s been an uphill battle, but finally this week, I went to bed before midnight three nights in a row! Great, right?

But don’t forget: if you want to stick to your goals, it’s important to celebrate small milestones by tanking all the progress you’ve made.

That’s right! After feeling well-rested and healthier for three full days, I rewarded myself by staying up until 1:45 last night. It felt great to indulge a little bit and completely undo the healthy pattern I’d just barely started to develop. It’s just the kind of reinforcement that will make it even harder to achieve what I set out to do, and it felt great. And then, the next morning, awful.

It’s 11:44 now and here I am, back at square one. 🙂

 

Tax Tips for People Like You

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Fiscal responsibility.

My favorite thing about taxes is how much work it is to account for the tiny amounts of money I make. It really gives me a chance to examine my life and feel terrible about it. This year I got a 1099 from the State of Illinois for $11! And while some might find this annoying, I see it as an opportunity. Here are my tips to make sure you’re not just doing your taxes, but really experiencing them:

  1. Put it off as long as possible. Theoretically this should mean until April 14, and in a perfect world it would. But at a certain point, the taxes’ looming existence will become paralyzing. This is the point where you need to begin working on it.
  2. Start small and work your way up. Make a TurboTax account, but don’t use it yet. Glance at one of your W2’s for a few minutes before bed every night, just to get familiar. Not too close to bedtime or you’ll have nightmares. Maybe around dinnertime?
  3. Imagine worst case scenarios. Like getting audited over forgetting to report $50 and somehow setting off a chain of events that leads to going to prison. Or forgetting to report $75 and somehow setting off a chain of events that leads to going to prison (all my scenarios end in going to prison).
  4. Drink. This is one of the best-kept productivity secrets, and it works in most situations. It’s hard to panic over those taxes when the edges of the forms have gotten softly blurry. (Disclaimer: If you do your taxes while drunk, refer back to #3 for further panic.)
  5. Cry. It never fails. Also, it’s inevitable so you might as well do it now.
  6. Hyperventilate. The crying might be enough, but if not, breathing too fast is a great way to get worked up into a full panic attack.

I still have not finished my taxes, but my using these simple tricks, I did keep myself from even starting them today! Time to cry in bed.