What a Crappy Morning Taught Me About Productivity

Pretty crappy mornings tend to lead to pretty crappy days, am I right? Today’s crappy morning taught me a lot about myself, self-discipline, and productivity.

I really struggled today.

I went to bed last night with the best of intentions. I set the alarm, even though I’d had a bit of a late one at work. I had tidied my bedroom, giving me easier access to my desk and a more pleasant working environment. I was even looking forward to the idea of waking up refreshed and ready to go which, to anyone who remotely knows me, will come as a bit of a shock.

The story had quickly changed, however, by the time the alarm actually went off.

8am on the dot Alexa wakes me with Classic FM. Late for some, but I had been working until 1245 the previous evening. I halfheartedly listened to the news, only semi-awake, rolled over, and promptly fell fast asleep once more.

By the time I re-awoke naturally, it was 10am. I felt groggy, sore, and stodgy, not the elegant and sprightly spring lamb I had been going for. As I groggily reached for my phone to check the time, noticed the headline declaring Boris Johnson intended to suspend Parliament before Brexit, and that was me. Racing down the Social Media rabbit hole faster than Alice after the White Rabbit.

By the time I resurfaced, it was no longer morning.

This was not the productive, positive day I had imagined for myself. Deflated and more than a little grumpy, I stumbled my way to the bathroom to shower. 9 times out of 10, all I really need to make me feel better is a hot shower. I don’t really feel human without one in the mornings, and I always sleep better if I take a shower before bed. I turned on the water, hoping the zingy ginger scent of my shower gel would revitalise and refresh me, but other than realising that it reminded me of a horse shampoo my Mum used to have, it had little effect. I still felt as groggy and under energised as when I woke up.

In the idealised version of today living in my head, I’d already been up for hours. I’d been super productive, and I was just settling down to a well earned lunch. Instead, here I was just plopping myself down with my peanut butter toast and cup of tea. In front of the television. Big Mistake.

As I sat languishing on the couch absentmindedly scrolling through Instagram and Pinterest, I began to grow more and more annoyed with myself and my typical lack of self-discipline. So, I drew a bargain with myself; if I sat down at my desk and did 10 minutes of emails, just 10, and still didn’t want to work, I would allow myself to take the day off. Sometimes that is all we nee, but I know myself well enough to know I allow myself this excuse far too often. I dragged my butt off of the couch and headed upstairs.

I have now been sat at my desk for over four hours. I’ve sorted through emails, written two blog posts, including this one, and caught up on several of the email newsletters I am subscribed too. In fact, I was actually disappointed when the 10 minute timer went off, as I was just starting to hit my email flow. I took two minutes to answer a message on my phone, and then dove straight back in again.

Today has been a really interesting lesson for me in terms of motivation and productivity. I am very much a person who, unless driven by time constraints and accountability, tends to procrastinate tasks until the very last minute, which often means that personal projects, such as the blog, find themselves never actually getting done.

I quite frequently have mornings and days like today, where my motivation and energy levels are lower than a skinny boy’s jeans (if you know, you know). I am really bad for lacking discipline and just giving into my desire to give up and do nothing, instead of just knuckling down and getting on with the work.

Today was different. I had put too much effort into today, too much thought and planning, just to throw it all away because of a false start. I’ve been more productive in my four hours today than I think I’ve been in the past three weeks. All it took was 10 minutes, 10 relatively short minutes for me to get over that getting started hump and actually into the flow of working.

I know now that’s all I ever need. Just ten minutes. A short, tangible chunk of time just to get started. To break the giant task down into smaller, manageable ones. Sure, I might only manage one of those chinks, but you never know, maybe I might just manage them all in one go.

What are your tips for managing your time when motivation and energy just aren’t there for you? I’ve posted an abridged version of today’s post over on Instagram. Come comment on the post and join the conversation.