Then I hit burn-out and was off work. I gained a stress-induced arrhythmia which has stopped me cycling and running. I lost my sense of purpose and any semblance of focus and concentration. Mornings became something that was in that space between getting up and lunch and most days that I tried to plan anything, I was left staring at a piece of paper, with my brain a horrendous combination of spaghetti and echoing emptiness.
However, I've finally managed to climb out of the murk enough to regain a routine. It's not one that will necessarily survive the return to work (whenever that might happen) but it works for me at the moment. It's (mostly) soothing and settling but not always hugely productive...
Once I am up and breakfasted, I try to do the following routine (assuming I don't need to be somewhere before about 10.30 am!):
- Write my morning pages
- Empty my head into the 'brain-dump' reporters' notepad
- Meditate/do some mindful practice
- Make a cup of tea
- Sit at my desk with my brain dump/daily list and my weekly list and my A5 filofax
- Time-box activities into time-slots (and try to remember to double the amount of time I think it will take me to do anything)
- Turn over a 30-minute sand-timer and start the day
Depending on how box-of-frogs-like my head is, the routine can take from 30-60 minutes (or more) but it is a slow, steady rhythm and start to the day.
The Morning Pages
I am still doing these in the Paper Thinks book but have shifted to only writing on the right-hand pages as then I can use something nicer to write with than a biro (the pages have far too much bleed-through to contemplate being able to write on the reverse if I use a proper pen!).
|The Paper Thinks book. I added the ribbon to fasten it closed|
I found I could spend half the morning faffing about writing the morning-pages, so now I set a time-limit for them of 15 minutes. I still write almost three pages in that time, but the time-limit helps me to stay focussed.
The Reporters' Notebook for a brain dump
Once I have done my morning pages, I then clear my head into a new side in a scrappy reporters' notebook. This is literally a brain-dump and also acts as a scratch-pad over the day. It gets dumped each night, so the fact it is scrappy is fine. I list everything I could do that day. That doesn't mean I will do it, and I feel less guilty than I used to about transferring things to the next day's list of they don't get done.
|Not normally this neat - I was playing with a new pen!|
The A5 diary
Once I have my daily list, I then plan my day. I usually look at my daily list in conjunction with my weekly list and then allocate things from them onto the day. Because Filofax seem to think that people are less busy/less planned on a weekend, they combine the two days into one column and so I have to resort to a personal-size page with the corner cut off so it will go on the A5 rings. On a weekday, this kind of plan goes into the A5 diary.
|Day plan on lined paper|
That's my morning routine and it is working reasonably well for me (as long as I don't over-allocate!).
Do others have a morning routine that keeps them on track?