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Do Yourself a Favor

Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 11.13.18 PM

I’ve recently started trying to not ruin my day before it even starts. (It should be alarming that “recently started” is part of that sentence, yes.) Not all of this is new. Mostly drinking water and meditating and avoiding email are new. The rest is ingrained.

Before I leave my house, I like to try and do myself the favor of making it a nice place to return to. Growing up my mom always emphasized readying the house before my dad got home (I wonder if he knows we did this?) so it would be a warm, uncluttered, backpack-free welcome after a long commute. Nothing drastic. Just putting away what should be put away. I guess quite literally clearing an unobstructed path from work to home.

It might sound overly old-fashioned for the 90s, but I find it very sweet. My parents are really lucky to have each other and this kind of mutual support, of course, but I’ve found there are ways to uphold this welcome home even if you live alone. When you live by yourself, you have the responsibility (and subsequently the freedom) to craft your world to your liking. I’m a big fan of that.

So here’s how I start my day (to better end my day), much of it inspired by my mom’s constant reminders to put our shit away…

Avoid email for as long as possible. Is your phone your alarm clock? Congratulations, you’re ruining your whole entire day. Nothing makes me more miserable than turning off my alarm and then clicking straight through all my emails full of things I don’t want to do. This is not what your first breaths of the day are for. They are for being excited you get another day, right? Do something else. I went so far as to buy a new alarm clock but I didn’t trust it so now I just try to have the self restraint to wait a hot second before I check it.

Drink water. Immediately. If I don’t slam a liter of water first thing in the morning I won’t drink it at all. Once that coffee is ready it takes precedence over all other liquids. So prioritize. (Water first, if you missed that.)

Make your damn bed. My mom told me that successful people make their beds so naturally I always make my bed. It’s worth pointing out that I’m terrible at it and if I do it at home she comes through and rips the whole thing apart and does it again but… I do try. (Try is kind of a stretch.) So long as the comforter is smooth and adequately covers all sheets and the pillows are sort of where they’re supposed to go, you will encounter great riches. If this takes you more than 60 seconds you’re doing something wrong. Let it go, Martha Stewart.

Put things away. Yes you do have time. I do this in 60 seconds. I’m not saying it has to necessarily be put away where it’s supposed to be put away, but at least get it out of your line of sight. You’ll thank me when you come home later tonight. Dishes into the dishwasher (ok, they go there), clothes into drawers or (my favorite) thrown in the closet, makeup and hairdryers and whatever else you use to get ready… put it awaaaaaay.

Clear the entryway. For real. Stop dropping bags and mail and coats and whatever other shit you have right at the door. No one wants to come home to that, so says feng shui (and also my mom again). Put it somewhere. The closet next to the front door is my favorite place. (Please never open my closets.)

Do all the things you don’t want to do later. For me this is scooping the litterbox, taking out the trash and assorted other gross things I will absolutely not do at 8 o’clock tonight. Just get it out of the way.

Go outside. I find that at a minimum I can open the door to the balcony and at least see and feel the rest of the world waking up. A little chill in the air. Traffic. Kids. TV and music and climate control and computer are all very tempting first thing, but just the tiniest bit of outsideĀ reminds me where I am.

Meditate. I’d be lying to you if I said I really do this every day, but I definitely do have time for it. I just need to get the F off the computer. I do five minutes. Just sit down, close your eyes and don’t do anything for 5 minutes. That’s it. (I set the timer on my phone, tricky little minx it is always weaseling its way back into my good graces.)

Read something good. Ok, if you still have time left I recommend reading something you love online and then maybe even sharing it to get that little social media high. I like Fast Company. Also, if you’re as deep into social media as I am, studies show now is actually the best time to check it because people are more positive in the morning. The later it gets, the whinier the collective online voice becomes. Choose your battles.

20 Comments

  1. TaMo TaMo

    It’s 5:45 am, I’m on Spring Break. I just woke up and MADE MY BED. Hahaha

  2. yes to all. but my damn phone alarm clock. i need to actually buy a cool new one or something that makes me not use my phone.

  3. Corley May Corley May

    This is great! I’m especially terrible at putting things away – I’ll just shift clothes back and forth from my clean laundry pile to my dirty laundry pile until I’m surrounded by undistinguishable mountains of clothes. Very stressful. And gross.

    • Sometimes I leave my clothes in the dryer until I want to wear them.

  4. Coming home to a sink with no dirty dishes in it makes me happy. So that’s what I do every morning before I leave.

  5. I totally agree. I always make my bed, so it’s extra-inviting when I go to bed the next night. Coming home to chaos and more clutter is just stressful, so I keep it clean as much as I can! šŸ™‚

    And I extra-agree about going outside. I try and get out after work for a short walk or something everyday – that fresh air really helps me sleep soundly!

  6. All these are so great. The water one for sure. I like cleaning up before bed and waking up to a clean place.. its like a fresh start!

    • Yes! You totally have to do this all again at night too. I don’t know how everything gets so disheveled in the very few hours I’m actually here…

  7. I try to do this. It is so hard with two young kids, but I try. The whole water thing is very important.

    • I can barely do it myself. I can imagine additional lives are a whole new challenge.

  8. i love that you’ve included making the bed. it is something i’ve only started doing recently and i have to say, getting into a made bed at the end of the day is worth it.

  9. Amanda Bee Amanda Bee

    Love these. I always make my bed in the AM, except that the cat “helps” (e.g. attacks all the blankets) so it usually looks like crap, but at least it’s sort of made. I don’t feel like I’m fully awake until I’ve drank some water, brushed my teeth, and made the bed.

    • Ha, Weaz is a blanket attacker too.

      • Amanda Bee Amanda Bee

        They’re such helpful creatures.

        Also, random, but: I’ve been using my radio as an alarm clock and have it set to NPR. So far, this has been a success. Less annoying than the noises my phone makes, but effective at actually waking my brain up. Bonus: listening to NPR news first thing makes me feel intelligent and informed, sort of.

      • This is an excellent idea. Now to buy a radio because it’s 2014 and seriously who has a radio? You are my hero.

  10. First thing I do every morning is make my bed. It’s ingrained in me too. Had to be made before we left for school. Now I can’t stand for it not to be made.

    I do use a regular alarm clock (it’s hello kitty). It’s set on a radio station that plays 80s/90s music.

    I’m terrible about putting things away though. I need to start doing that.

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