We all have peaks and troughs in our productivity levels. This is just a natural fact of life when you bear in mind the distractions and surprises life throws our way from time to time. Just this morning, for example, when my alarm went off at 5:30 am (oddly enough this is half an hour later than normal), I just could not bring myself to get up. Really. I hit the alarm, rolled over, went back to sleep. Totally against everything I stand for.
Yesterday morning, my alarm went off at 5:00 am and I was up, morning routine completed and I was in the car, driving to a client site at 6:00 am with my podcasts blaring and I was taking in everything that was being said and felt on top of the world.
Compare that with the day before, where I actually had to pull over on the way to work to get a coffee and recharge quickly because I was genuinely worried I may fall asleep at the wheel.
Hardly a consistent approach to mornings there is it. And from myself, of all people, who knows the keys and secrets to getting these routines right.
So what went wrong? Well, I’ve thought about this long and hard prior to writing this post and I’ve been able to trace the problem back and it’s something that I’m sure we are all guilty of from time to time.
I took my eye off the ball and took myself for granted, believing myself to be a machine as opposed to a human being that needs to be taken care of in the mind as well as the body.
It goes back to Sunday night. Mistake number one was that I did not go to bed at my normal time. Now, I don’t mean that I have a religious time set for bed, like 10:30 pm every Sunday night. I have a tolerance level set, so Sundays I always aim to be asleep between 10:30 pm and 11:00 pm. This is quite reasonable and it gives me my 6 hours that I need in order to wake up properly the next morning and get straight on with my morning routine.
I knew that I was working from home the next day, without a requirement to be at an office at a certain time, so this was a mistake as well. I didn’t associate my work environment at home as being an office and so I automatically applied a different set of rules and conditions to how I work there. Knowing that there may be the chance of an afternoon nap if I needed it, I went to bed later.
My youngest little angel decided that this was not going to be a good time to have an uninterrupted nights sleep and was up several times in the night. Now, this isn’t strictly a mistake as it wasn’t something that could be controlled. She wasn’t well and as parents, we have to and want to, be up with her and help soothe the pain away.
No, the mistake in this scenario is that I didn’t allow myself anytime over the course of the next few days to catch up on this sleep debt and I didn’t stick to any form of routine.
I got up at 5:30 am on Monday (this is my work from home getting up time) and carried on as normal. Was I as productive as normal during the day? No, I certainly wasn’t. This led me to some pretty negative feelings about myself and what I had achieved. Working for yourself can do this to you because the responsibility of housing and feeding your loved ones is all based on the output you produce. So days with minimal output are a source of worry and discomfort.
How did I deal with this worry and discomfort? You guessed it. I stayed up later on Monday night to try and make up for some of the work I had missed. This led to Tuesday being the same as Monday, and the spiral continued. Driving home from London to Margate on that Tuesday afternoon was a real struggle.
Any normal person would have had an earlier night's sleep on the Tuesday night however this didn’t materialise because I still felt bad about the previous day, so I caught up on some more work.
And so on, and so on, and so on.
Apart from the one morning yesterday, where I was clearly overtired and a so naturally gained some extra reserves of energy and verve on the way to work, this was not a week I’m going to look back on with fondness.
If I had just stuck to my night-time routine, maintained my sleep habits as best as I could, kept that body clock in sync then I would have been able to get up at my normal time this morning. Routines are crucial in life as they breed habits and, in order to be successful, I need to make getting up in the morning before 6am each day a habit. Habit’s are carried out within our sub-conscious. When I get out of my car, I don’t think to myself “I’d best lock the car door now” - I shut the door, click the button and put the key in the same pocket, day in, day out. It’s a habit and just happens because it used to be a routine and has now evolved. The same can be applied for my washing routine. Do I get into the bathroom and think to myself “Right, what shall I do first?” Of course not. I turn on the tap, reach for my face-wash, wash my face, grab the shaving foam etc etc. No thoughts, it’s now a habit.
So next week, I’m going to be adhering to my night time routine and morning routine religiously. The time will come where I won’t even need to be setting my alarm to carry this out!
OK, maybe I won’t be quite that brave.