SIX THINGS I DO BEFORE 8AM.

Sometimes I hate to admit how much of a morning person I am. Mostly because there’s a small part of me that envies the person who can sleep soundly until 10am, and maybe because a part of me thinks (knows) that my early to rise mentality stems from anxiety. “I can’t sleep in! There’s things to do, thoughts on my mind! Sleeping in wastes the day!” Am I the only one who deals with that feeling?!

All of that aside, I’ve come to love being a morning person; the stillness of it, the slowness. It allows me to feel productive before the business of the day ensues. I’d like to think that it sets me up for success in some ways. So, here are six things that I usually do before 8:00:

1. 5 minutes of tidying | Especially as someone who works from home, our apartment is my all day work space, so it is important to me that there isn’t a pile of dishes in the sink or an unmade bed— it just wouldn’t be a productive space for me! Although we’re pretty good about staying on top of big messes, in the morning there’s inevitably clean dishes waiting to be put away, some laundry overflowing, or tumbleweed of dog hair brushing by… it’s really doable, and effective for me to spend a few minutes first thing in the morning just addressing these ‘chores’ and allowing myself the atmosphere I need to be productive.

2. Put things back in their place | Similarly to the above, things like books, remotes, shoes, mail, all get dropped fluidly in our house. Having a place for everything, and making sure those things always make it there, keep things at least looking tidy.

3. Take a few minutes for myself | Whether this is 15 minutes of reading in the morning or spending an extra 5 in bed after my alarm, ‘treating’ myself is always something I try to do. Waking up the extra minutes early is definitely worth it.

4. Walk the dog | Obviously.. for his sake. But other than that, just getting fresh air first thing in the morning is a game changer. To be honest, I don’t know how motivated I’d be to do this without a dog, especially in New England winters, but maybe there’s a track nearby or a coffee shop in walking distance that allows for some time outside before your day starts. Just doing it forces me out of that ‘I’m comfy in bed’ feeling and wakes me right up!

5. Review ‘admin’ items, like my upcoming schedules and bank accounts | This may seem super over the top to do on a daily basis but… I do. By keeping a daily tab on my planner, bank accounts, bills, meetings etc., there’s never a time when I sit down after weeks of neglect to surprises, a big project or something I missed. It makes me feel like my ‘affairs are in order’ — how adult— and that gives me peace of mind for the rest of the day.

6. Write down one point a gratitude from the day before | You already know that I find that practicing gratitude has helped me in my minimalism journey but in addition, I just love to journal. I’ve found that remembering a high point of the day before, no matter how big or small, not only keeps me practicing gratitude on a daily basis, but it also serves as a diary of sorts. Looking back even just months and seeing what I considered to be the best part of my day always makes me smile.

Thank you to True & Co for allowing me to try out your much-talked about V Neck Bra. I’ve been on the lookout for an intimates brand that isn’t a big box retailer for a very long time, and this female-run, San Fran based company has really hit the mark for me! Take their fit quiz to see what style would work best for you!

MY BULLET JOURNAL.

I am a huge advocate for the traditional paper and pen. I saw someone post once comparing a creative's mind to a window with thousands of tabs open at once... and I could not relate more. I'm one of those people that if I don't write absolutely everything down, it will either consume all of my thoughts, hindering my ability to concentrate, or it's gone completely. IE -- I write everything down from remembering to fold laundry to the food I plan to cook for the week.

That being said, 2018 is the first year that I fully embraced the bullet journal method in its entirety. Up until now, any planner or journal that I have used just never seemed to be absolutely perfect. I ended up incorporating bullet journal theories where I could, but new year, new me and I started day 1/365 with a brand new Shinola grid journal. A few weeks in, and here's why I am absolutely in love:

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Flexibility | I don't know about you, but for me, some weeks are jam-packed, while others are very slow. In other pre-designed journals, I had too much room on some days and not enough on others. With a bullet journal being completely at my disposal, I can design each week based on what I have going on and what my needs are on any given week.

Creativity | Setting up and designing my journal is a creative outlet separate from any creative tasks that are tied to 'work' (IE: necessary). It's relaxing and freeing to be able to write, draw, collage and design whatever I feel like. And, at the end of the year, my bullet journal will become both a log and a visual representation of my year. (And for those who really want to go down a dangerous rabbit hole, look at bullet journal videos on YouTube, to see just how many possibilities are out there!)

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Efficiency | The general benefit of the bullet journal is the extreme efficiency that it provides. Outside of just the format, the idea is that the user spends a few minutes at the beginning of each day reviewing what needs to get done and writing it down, migrating tasks that have yet to be accomplished from previous days. Watch this video from the bullet journal's creator to hear it explained in full. 

Reflection | After the year, your bullet journal becomes just that: a journal of your highs and lows, successes and failures. What tasks kept getting pushed off? Which goals did and didn't get accomplished? This journaling method essentially creates a blueprint into your innerworkings. Pretty cool, huh?

Achievement | The bullet journal allows me to crush all of the things that I set out to accomplish by taking large, overarching goals and breaking them down to manageable steps. How? 1. At the beginning of the year, write down all of your yearly goals. 2. As each month approaches, look to your yearly list, and write down a few very specific items that can be accomplished in a month to get you closer to your yearly goal. 3. Finally, write down on your to-do list the daily action that accomplishes your monthly goals! It becomes a tiered system. The best way to exemplify this method is with my yearly goal of reading ten books in 2018. To accomplish this overarching goal, I knew that I had to finish the book that I was reading on January 1, by the 31st; it became a January goal. How did I ensure that I completed the book? Simple math and I knew that I had to read 12 pages a day to stay on track. I wrote 'read 12 pages' on my to-do list every day. It may sound slightly obsessive (or at least for my reading example it is), but it is also truly effective! 

Do you bullet journal or do you want to try? What methods work for you and what do you like or dislike about it? The journaling nerd in me would love to hear about it!