This Day Will Be Different

This Day Will Be Different


I got up early to write this morning—not too long after five. Maybe 5:20 or so.

I love a quiet house. I love the distraction-free time early in the morning when I have a gentle little bubble of time in which to think thoughts and then type words before all the stuff of the day begins pecking at my head.

I slunk out of the bedroom in the dark and went into the bathroom to weigh myself. I started Weight Watchers yesterday, so naturally the pounds should just start melting off just by the very act of signing up, right? If only! But I was down two pounds. Yes, I was an absolute saint with my food yesterday, but I’m aware that this is water weight or scale malfunction or some other mysterious and frustrating variable designed to play with my emotions. These two pounds are probably hiding somewhere, ready to peek out when I don’t expect to see them … like the child who has, upon hearing me get up early, decided that he or she would also like to get up early and hide out in the family room until I notice.

Some forms of peace and solace are fragile.

But … there won’t be a child hiding out today. There aren’t any here at the moment (#divorcelife). In fact, I have to head out in about a half hour—at 6:30—to go spend an hour in the car picking my kids up and delivering them to school.

So this time right now? It’s important and it’s ticking away fast.

When I got down to the kitchen, I patted myself on the back for setting up my coffee pod last night. While I got that brewing, I opened the Productive app on my phone. I’ve been using this for a few weeks. It’s a game changer for a scattered chick like me.

Basically, this app lets you track certain habits that you want to do every day or on specific days. Then you swipe right (or left? one of them) after you complete the habit. In this way, you can build streaks, which are visually satisfying and feel like a little game. Games are fun.

When I started using this app, I kept my list very spare—just a few habits that I wanted to be rock solid on. I had five things:

  1. Meditating
  2. Journaling
  3. Starting or finishing a blog post (oh, the amount of blog drafts sitting around in this account … it would astound you)
  4. Taking my vitamins
  5. Exercising (I like 8 Minutes in the Morning by Jorge Cruz)

Five habits. Lean and mean. Just boil everything down the essence of what I want to do every day to be happy, healthy, and fulfilled.

I have stayed with this system longer than I’ve ever stayed with anything, until recently, when I sabotaged my progress. (More about that in a minute.)

Because of my ADD, following any sort of system to get organized or stay on a schedule is a huge challenge. This is how it usually goes for me when I start a new program/system/schedule:

  1. Read all about why this system works. Google reviews. Read tons of success stories.
  2. Decide. “THIS IS THE ONE THING THAT I NEED THAT WILL CHANGE MY LIFE FOREVER. This is the system that will save me from myself. This is the system that will give the pathetic parts of me that can’t get it together a life raft to cling to while the less-pathetic parts of me, enjoying being above water for a change, make some executive decisions about how to steer towards a destination instead of just worrying about not drowning. This is the one!”
  3. Mentally swipe all the day’s commitments to the side in order to focus on setting up this system. Yes, there are things to be done this day, but they can wait. Because now that I have found this system, it’s important that I start off the right way. I need to learn it, set it up, and implement it. Isn’t it Tony Robbins who says that most people spend their lives majoring in minor things? I think it’s him. He’s right. For this moment, or moments, or maybe even hours, I am investing in ME.
  4. Tell Joe about my new system that’s going to change everything. He loves systems. He’s probably heard of this one. Talk to at least one friend. Listen when she tells me she’s having trouble with … whatever. Then I’ll tell her about my new system and tell her that she should try it, too, because whatever is ailing her could probably also be fixed by this awesome thing I just found.
  5. Realize that I’ve spent a lot of time on this. I’ve spent so much time setting this up and making spreadsheets and schedules that everything else I need to do today must now be accomplished within a few hours. OK, so just for today, I’m going to put aside the zen that my new system is supposed to create for me, and work like a mad woman to get everything done. Then, tomorrow I will get up early and work this miracle solution.
  6. I stay up too late trying to finish work.
  7. I’m so tired the next morning. I move through the morning routine. I get the kids off to school. I look down an realize that, somehow, I have not accomplished daily goals 1-5, which were all supposed to completed by the time I get Benjamin on the bus at 8:45. The big thing I notice is that I’m definitely not dressed and ready for the day and that’s sort of key to the whole system. Sitting around in one’s jammies for the first three hours of a weekday does not prime one’s mind for the massive action outlined in my new system. But beating myself up is not going to accomplish anything either. Life is imperfect and new things don’t always go smoothly right away. I need to rally, and do the best I can.
  8. So … since I’m already behind, I wonder if I should I get dressed and shower now? Or should I just start work and shower at lunchtime? Which is better? Certainly someone has studied this. I’m pretty sure I read something about this somewhere. I should look it up right now so I can make sure I’m doing this right.
  9. It’s lunchtime. I am pooped. So tired from staying up too late to complete all the work I didn’t do yesterday while I was busy setting up this system. I know I’m not mentally sharp when I’m tired. Everything takes longer. A quick nap will help me to course correct.
  10. Wake up. Repeat the panic from the day before when I realize that much of the day is over and, once again, I have not accomplished most of things I wanted to do that day.

So … today I got up close-ish to five a.m. and told myself that this day, right here, is going to be different. This day, I am going to keep my eye on the ball.

Which is what I remind myself after I realize that my coffee has finished brewing and has been sitting in the mug for a full 10 minutes while I’ve been diligently organizing all the many new tasks I decided to pop into my Productive app. After all, if 5 tasks are good, aren’t 10 tasks better? Shouldn’t I put some work items in there, too? Those are important. And what about some basic chores that I want to do every day? I mean, I already do a load of laundry every day and I don’t exactly need a reminder, but if I put it in the app and I can swipe right (or left?) on it every day, won’t that be positive reinforcement?

No. Maybe I should just keep it lean and mean. That has been working. I always do this. I find a way to take something that works and then I overload it because Yes, I totally can get one more card on top of this house of cards! It will be fine!

And then I see that it’s 5:50. I have 40 minutes until I need to leave.

And that, campers, is how we got right here.

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