Guest Post: Jumpstart Your Day in 15 Minutes!

Mornings are tough. Can I get an Amen? But they’re also a completely undeniable part of adult life (and college life. Sorry.) so ANYTIME that I hear some good advice on how to get going in the mornings, I listen intently! Recently, Kiki (aka my mom) shared her routine.

( Learn more about her and her crazy ways here: 10 Things I Learned from My Mom )

As she rambled through this routine while we sipped mimosas on Beale before a Memphis Tiger game, I was so impressed with just how much of a habit this was for her. She didn’t once have to stop to think about what came next. 

This was so much a part of her daily life that she almost seemed bored as she explained it to me. So, now she’s here to share it with you! Take what you can from it, adapt it to work for you and your morning and start trying to build your own morning habit!  
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By Michelle, Pen & Hive

You know how your morning gets away from youand by the time you get to school or work or the kids wake up it’s just on for the rest of the day? Well, a few years ago I created a solution for that. It’s a 15 minute morning routine that helps me feel that no matter what else happens I’ve done some really good stuff for myself before I even sit down for coffee. 

The reason for this little routine is that just as bad things like smoking or drinking diet soda are bad for you over time (the key word is cumulative) good things in small doses over a long period are also going to pay off.

Here’s the 15 minute breakdown:

– I have dogs so the minute my feet hit the floor I go into the kitchen and feed them.

– While they eat I brush my teeth, wash my face, and moisturize. Use a moisturizer with a sunscreen. 30 years from now you’ll be so glad you did!

– Back to the kitchen to let them out, then I drink 16 oz.of filtered water and take my daily vitamins.

– I start the coffee maker (doing it before now or having it ready when I get up means I might skip the next step).

– While the coffee is brewing (notice I set myself up to be hanging around waiting for the coffee) I do a 7 minute yoga/stretch routine that I’ve developed over the years. The point of it is to stretch out all the big muscle groups and flood my body with oxygen which helps me wake up.

– While stretching and breathing I do not think about my day. I take deep breaths and think how grateful I am that I can move. 

– Now the coffee is done. I let the dogs in, pour my coffee and head to a cozy chair to work a quick crossword puzzle to wake up my brain and read something spiritual to get centered for the day. 

– I don’t finish the puzzle or the reading within the 15 minutes but the point is to get there. Once you are there with your coffee or tea and a few quiet minutes to yourself you can spend as much or as little time as you need. 

(You can also use this time to pray, meditate, say your affirmations or whatever makes you feel centered.)

By the time you finish your coffee or tea you are hydrated, oxygenated, energized, and ready to face your day! 

I do this every single day.  A couple of years ago I got a chance to test it during a difficult time. Because it was a habit I did this routine on autopilot once I got up. Some days hold exciting and fun things you look forward to. You’ll be in a better frame of mind to enjoy them if you jump-start your day. Make your routine a habit and all you have to do is put your feet on the floor. Then you find yourself doing the next thing and the next thing and so on.

You may not be able to face your whole day but you can face the first 15 minutes. It’s much easier if you have a plan in place. After this you are ready to go about your morning by having breakfast, checking your calendar, and getting ready. And just preparing to be fabulous and amazing for the rest of the day!

Do you have a morning routine? Have you developed a way to feel focused (instead of flustered) in the mornings? If you’re having trouble getting started in the mornings, do you think that any of these tips could help YOU?

5 Quick Ways to Deal with Stress

Let me first just say that y’all are really killing it with these post requests! Every time a new one that comes in, I’m just like, “Oh, yeah! That’s an awesome idea!”

So thank you for being so amazing! 

Secondly, let’s get started on some requests, okay?! 

One topic I’ve noticed that y’all are really interested in is stress! How to manage stress, how to handle stress, how to make stress go away, how to not have a screaming fit in your car when someone cuts you off and you were already on the verge of tears because you literally could not handle one more thing. I get it. We all do a lot. People want us where they want us, when they want us there, looking how they think we should look, acting how they think we should act, and doing what they think we should do. 

Our smartphones make us constantly available to them. And it can get very overwhelming. I am certainly no de-stressing wizard. I freak out Jessie Spano-style from time to time just like everyone else (There’s never enough ti-i-i-i-ime!). And this morning, I read on Happify that money and stress are the 2 things that people complain about the most (followed by relationships and health). We don’t want to be the kind of people who complain about being stressed out, right?! Let’s jump into some quick ways to solve it! 

I know. I know. This is on every list and you skip past it because there is not enough time to exercise. I have literally said this a hundred trillion times. BUT last year, I was having SUCH a hard time dealing with all of the stress in my life that I just had to try something different. I started making time to do some type of physical activity everyday. 

Here’s a whole post I wrote on how exercise helps us study better

It doesn’t have to be insanely strenuous. Even just a 10-15 minute walk at the park makes a difference. Our bodies are meant to be active. They are not meant to sit stationary in a chair all day long staring at a screen. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, get rid of some of that nervous energy through exercise! 

Freeze and Name 10 Things You’re Thankful For 
This is something that I do pretty frequently and it’s also something that I boss invite coworkers/friends etc. to do when they’re feeling overwhelmed as well! This is a really helpful idea because it immediately shifts your thought process! When things seem to be going wrong, we love to sink way down into that “bad” feeling and focus on everything that’s going wrong. 

We call it a “bad day” at noon and completely give up on the possibility of anything going right (aka, the way that WE think it should go). BUT when you switch your perspective around and start to focus on the good things, you kind of get a better grasp on reality. So maybe you thought something was off of your to-do list, but you just found out there is something else you have to do. (me with every single step pertaining to my teaching certification)

Acknowledge that what you’re dealing with is annoying. It’s totally fine to be frustrated by something that just can’t seem to get done the right way! Next, name 10 things that ARE working out (a job, a compliment, a good grade, a car that works, a coat to wear, a place to live…). Then just move on! And if you’re so distraught that you feel like you have nothing to be thankful for, check out these 3 links!

Start saying “no”
You want to make people happy. I want to make people happy. We all want to make people happy. HOWEVER, when you spend too much time doing what others want you to do, you forget to do what YOU want to do. This is a big thing that we all have to learn because it’s hard. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed by your schoolwork and someone asks you to cover their shift at work, you’ve got to say no. Don’t justify it. Don’t explain it. Just say it: “No, thank you.”. 

Also, along these lines, don’t be afraid to back out of something if you have too many things going on! People would rather have you 100% engaged and focused in their activity than to have your brain in a million different places. If you are trying to do your schoolwork at your internship or trying to secretly write a blog post during a sorority meeting, that may be an indication that you have too many things going on. Trim your life down to about 5 major activities and organize your time so that you can do all 5 very well! 

Write about it
I really got into writing in 2009. I lived by myself in a studio apartment with no TV. As a way to kind of deal with boredom and manage my emotions, I started writing every night when I got home from work. I would write about things that upset me, things that made me angry/sad/happy. What’s the biggest thing that I learned from that process? 

I learned that my problems are absolutely nothing. And I mean that. When I went back to read what I wrote, sometimes I would just laugh and thank God that nobody else could read how bratty I sounded. I have too much schoolwork due? At least I live in a country where I have the opportunity to go to school. 

I have something scheduled every minute of this weekend? At least I have friends who want to hang out with me. My closet is too messy? At least I can afford to buy clothes. I have too many bills/expenses? That means I’m living a really privileged life. This past semester, I actually filled an entire page complaining about my professor using “excessive punctuation” when he graded. #diva 

Identify the (real) source of your stress
This is super helpful for me to do. If I’m feeling like an emotional wreck on the surface, there is always, always something going on deeper… like a “heart” problem. Maybe something is going on in your family or relationship that you need to deal with. Maybe you could be more grateful or a nicer human. Maybe you’ve been taking in a little too much negativity from the news. 

Dealing with stressful life events us unavoidable. Take this science-backed quiz to find out your current stress score. This website also has tons of information on how to help you deal with that stress! Once you’ve identified the underlying reason or the REAL reason, you’ll be able to take steps to calm yourself down and focus on the right parts of your life! 

I’m feeling a little better already! Aren’t you? 🙂 

Further Reading: 

What are some ways that you deal with stress? Do you think any of these links could help you manage your stress levels better? 

…OR stop right now and list 10 things you’re grateful for! 

PROJECT: Get Your Time Back

So, I received this e-mail from the sweetest girl the other day:

I am a Junior in college and I have been feeling so discouraged when it comes to studying, this semester just started but I feel as if my study techniques are not efficient.

I have always been a flashcard, color coding girl, but lately that technique is not working for me. It doesn’t help that I had 3 exams all in one week. I was just wondering if I could get advice from you on how to manage my time better! I work two jobs and go to school full time.

Sound familiar to anyone else? 
I totally identified with this immediately. Junior year of undergrad was a really hard year for me, too! I also worked 2 jobs… One of which involved traveling and went to school full time. And I was completely overwhelmed (and broke) all of the time. 
First of all, if you’re also in this boat right now, remember that things WILL calm down and get better! I promise! 
Here is how I would suggest getting your time back:

In addition to your planner, get a small notebook to carry around. This is what I’ve done in the past when finals week seemed unbearable or I was way too stressed out (plus, it’s a great excuse to buy a cute notebook)! Then just “download” all of the crazy things swirling around in your head into it. Specifically, the things that make you want to sit in the floor and cry because it seems like it’s just too much to do in the amount of time you have.

This saves you time because you immediately start working on what needs to be done. 

Dedicate 1 page to each day. Write out the times on the left side and what you HOPE to do during those times. This keeps you focused *only* on what needs to be done today. If you’re already feeling super overwhelmed by what to do today, worrying about some new thing from next week is not going to make you feel better. By all means, stay aware of upcoming projects, but prioritize by due date. Get through this then you can get through that.

This saves you time because you are working high-priority to low-priority. 

Make this your new mantra: One thing at a time. One day at a time. Post it on your wall. Repeat it in your head. Say it out loud. Write it down. Remember that, despite what all you have to do, at the end of the day, this is really all you can do. Focus on this thing. On this day. In this moment. Then the next thing. Then the next thing. You will get it done. Anxiety comes from anticipating things that aren’t even here yet. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap! 

This saves you time because you skip the part where you stress over any and everything. 

As you go through your day, use a different color pen/pencil/marker to write notes about what you *actually* accomplished out to the right side. For me, when I write out what I DO instead of what I NEED to do, it calms me down and shows me I am progressing. It also helps you see where you could replace less important activities with important ones and it also helps you see that you’re accomplishing more than you feel like you’re accomplishing.

This saves you time because you hold yourself accountable; and you want to succeed. 

I once read that we can balance about 5 different things really well. After that, we get stressed out and start to do a poorer job. College is super demanding because we are expected to do a TON of things all at once! If you’ve got too many things going on (work, school, barre, more work, planning parties, sorority commitments, a boyfriend, volunteering, church, an internship, a study group) don’t be afraid to politely step out of an activity or two. People will understand.

This saves you time because you are working on a manageable amount of tasks at a time. 

Finally (and this is the hardest one for me), let go of perfection. Every class doesn’t have to end in an A. There is nothing wrong with a B or a C! Your future employer will care IF you graduated, not how quickly you finished or what your GPA was. Set a time limit for doing projects. Set a time limit for editing/proofreading/revising projects. Then turn them in and move on to the next thing! No one else’s paper is perfect either!

This saves you time because perfectionism is the sneaky enemy of productivity! 

You’re always doing better than you think you are. 🙂 
Are you in a similar situation? Do you have any advice to add to this? Is there a time management tip that you can add to this list?