Tag Archives: productivity

On How I Wish My Days Began…

In a perfect world, each of my mornings would go a little something like this…

I would wake up bright-eyed when my alarm sounds at 6:00am. I wouldn’t have to hit snooze even once. From there, I would go for a run or get in a little half hour workout, then hit the shower. I would proceed to have a cup of coffee and a healthy, filling breakfast; one of those enviable avocado toasts and all-natural yogurt parfaits that lifestyle bloggers post on Instagram. Upon finishing my breakfast, which would be eaten while reading the Skimm and catching up on social media, I would put on the outfit I had set out the night before and engage in some mindful meditation. This would be exactly what I needed to start my day and get to work early.

If only. Here’s a little bit of what actually happens…

My alarm goes off at 6:30am and I hit snooze about 15 times. I then look at my phone and realize I have a mere 45 minutes to get ready. This involves a 10 minute shower, followed by me hurrying downstairs to wolf down a bowl of cereal. If I’m really cutting it close I have to resort to bringing my breakfast to work with me. I throw on an outfit that involves zero creativity; usually some dress pants and a sweater or a dress if I REALLY don’t want to put anything together. Before running out the door I pour myself a to-go cup of coffee that I usually wait a little too long to drink, which has forced me to like lukewarm coffee.

For as long as I can I remember, I have been a night owl and not a morning person. My parents needed to give me multiple reminders to wake up during high school, and I would easily sleep until noon on the weekends. This improved slightly in college; I never missed an 8am class. That being said, I opted for my days to start with 10am classes whenever possible. The one thing about living in New York City that agreed with me was the later start to the day. Most of us walked into work between 9:30am and 10am.

Even as I have continued to mature into adulthood, my night owl ways have persisted and I have yet to become one of those people who isn’t phased by the morning. I keep a consistent bedtime and have established a fairly regular nighttime routine. I try to read before falling asleep to ease my mind for a restful night of sleep. I set an alarm for the morning with plenty of time to get ready when I actually wake up at the appropriate time.

And yet, waking up in the morning is still not something that comes easily to me. I so badly want to be that person that wakes up early enough in the morning to get in a run before work, but as that alarm goes off, my bed pulls me in deeper and my eyelids slowly fall as my hand hits snooze once again.

Each day I work to attain this ideal morning routine. Something about the idea of achieving it makes me feel like I would be a better person as a result, but perhaps deep down I know better than that. Each time I drift back to sleep and hit snooze, it’s like my body is saying, “nine more minutes, you know nothing will change.”

And perhaps there are bigger priorities to focus on. While my mornings may be hectic, my nights are where I feel most productive and relaxed. The serenity of a night run can match that of an early morning run. Producing a blog entry to unwind after a day of work tends to beat a morning of social media catch up for me.

The world is full of checks and balances. We need morning people and night people. And while I believe change is good when it moves you forward, my night owl ways continue to serve me well.




On Productivity, Rewards, and More…

So let’s have an update on my HabitRPG life. It’s going well! I’m a level 6 now and have made it a habit to bring my lunch to work and to get some reading in every night. It’s been pretty enjoyable winding down before bed with a book and I think today I’ll be adding an element to deter me from looking at my phone before bed. I’ve read that the light of the screen makes your brain think it’s time to wake up because it’s similar to morning light, and that probably explains why I don’t get a great night’s sleep during the week. Nail biting has been pretty much non-existent since my nails have been painted, and messing with my face has proven to be difficult to avoid. It doesn’t help that I left my regular moisturizer at the sister-in-love’s house last weekend and had to temporarily switch to one I used unsuccessfully before.

Onto my more daily routines. I’ve done a good job of tidying up around the apartment each night – I’m saving major cleaning for weekends because it’s important to have some down time after work, for me at least. I’ve been killin’ it when it comes to blogging on a regular basis (and aren’t you SO happy that I’m back?) and on exercising on a regular basis. I’ve been working on strengthening my core so that when the weather turns and I find it acceptable to run outside again, I’ll be prepared for my oh-so-hilly neighborhood. I made it a daily task to set my clothes out for work the night before as well and it has been saving me a lot of time in the mornings. I never knew how much time I wasted standing in front of my closet trying to figure out what to wear before I’ve had any coffee.

Most importantly, I’ve followed through on my weekly tasks of putting money away in my savings and toward my credit card. Three cheers for financial freedom!

The to-do feature has been really great while I’m at work. I usually load up my work list in the app and set due dates for each item, then arrange the list by what’s due first. It’s really helped with prioritizing, which is something I struggle with at times when everything seems to be due all at once. Since completed tasks earn “gold,” which you can then redeem for the rewards you set, it’s nice to be able to say things like, “I literally earned this glass of wine today.”

TL;DR: HabitRPG is awesome and it’s working really well for me! Still recommending it to everyone out there that’s trying to accomplish what feels like more than they can handle!

On Breaking Bad Habits…

I’ve heard varying theories on how long it takes to form a new habit, and after trying things out for myself, I’ve found that it varies. I’ve had certain bad habits all my life that I’ve tried to break with these streaks and some have worked while others haven’t. I’m still looking for a way to break the nail-biting that has plagued me for as long as I can remember.

With many failed attempts in the past, I decided to try something new that the dude introduced to me: HabitRPG. This is an app/website that not only helps you build new, productive habits, it also helps you break the bad ones by turning everyday into a video game. You create an avatar, then set up habits (good and bad), dailies, to-dos, and rewards. I started with my bad habits: nail-biting and messing with the skin on my face (I’ve had various forms of acne since I was a teenager and have been incredibly unsuccessful not only in combating it, but also keeping myself from making it worse). I just click on these habits whenever I do them, and it takes “life” away from my character. It definitely takes some discipline to rat on yourself, but if you’re really determined to break the habits, I think it’s easy to stay true. As I was chatting with the dude about all the things I had set up, I found myself biting my nail and had to take a 3pt. hit to my health.

image via kickstarter – not my actual habits and goals!

I’ve also set up some good habits that I want to form such as bringing my lunch to work (we have a cafeteria downstairs that’s inexpensive and very easy to default to) and reading for an hour a day (I love to read but always claim to not have time for it).

The dailies don’t necessarily have to be everyday activities, but are more regular ones you would like to adopt. I set up a once per week task of putting money into my savings account or setting it aside for wedding gifts for friends this year (because we have five weddings to go to. FIVE.). I really like this customized feature – it’s important not to overload yourself with so many daily things, and it helps keep you on track if some new things are less frequent than others. My exercise and blog posts fell under the dailies column as well, but these are set up for four times a week, while making sure the apartment is clean has been set as an actual daily task.

Even better than the dailies are the to-dos – one-off tasks that you can set up each day to be completed, and that can also have a set due date. With today being my day off, I set up to-dos for doing laundry and running the dishwasher. I was able to make a checklist for them to help get through each part of the tasks (running dishwasher, putting dishes away, reloading it, etc.), and if you don’t finish the entire task, having it partially completed allows you to lose less “life.” I made a “clean out my closet” task that’s due Friday, so we’ll see how well I stick to that one!

Lastly, by far the best part of the app, you’re able to set up rewards. With each daily/to-do completed, and good habit reinforced, you earn gold and experience. You can create rewards with varying costs for which you cash in your gold. For example, for 15 gold, I’m treating myself to beer or wine. For 40, I’m going to the movies (not just watching one on Netflix). And for 75, I’m buying myself something I don’t need. The app/website also allows you to buy equipment with your gold like in an actual RPG, and it can help you fight/recover the bad habits and unfinished tasks that happen from time to time. I’ve yet to really explore this part of it, but can’t wait to get my 75 gold to buy something fun.

Like I said before, it takes discipline to really stick to it, but that’s the case when you’re trying to do these things on your own as well. I definitely recommend this to those that need to make chores and breaking bad habits more fun – I know I certainly could use it. I’ll keep you up to date on my progress probably on a monthly basis. And I’m gaining experience right now just by writing this post – huzzah!