Last night, as I was in bed watching an Amazon Prime original on my computer and scrolling on Instagram simultaneously, I was determined to do two things: spend less time on the screen and more time sleeping at night. So, what did I do? I took advantage of the features of this expensive @** iPhone, which I’m sure I don’t get my money’s worth from. There is a bedtime feature in the clock application that allows you to set how much sleep you get. How does it know you’re sleep? It probably doesn’t but it reminds you when to go to bed and when to wake up. So, I said I wanted to get 6.5 hours of sleep per night, Monday through Friday (I probably should’ve set it Sunday through Thursday so I’ll adjust that before Friday night comes knocking). At 10:45, it reminded me that I have 15 minutes until it’s time for bed.
After I did that, I restricted screen time with the usual suspects. Actually, I restricted screen time almost all together. Between the hours of 11PM and 7AM, I will only have access to certain apps, such as the Bible application and the Harvard Business Tip, which I read first thing in the morning. That means no e-mails, no calls and text messages*, no Instagram. I also retain access to my fitness applications because I should be using them first thing in the morning.
Finally, the asterisk above is because I can be reached during these times via call and text by a select few people who, in the event of an emergency, I would be expected to respond.
My first night on this was fairly successful. At 10:52, I realized I needed to post to my photography Instagram page, so I was a few minutes late for bed (I am able to override the suggestion to put the addictive device down), but, all in all, I am pretty happy with this new commitment to a healthier schedule.
Oh, and if you don’t have an iPhone but do have a smartphone, search Google Play (or whatever other app stores are called) for iHome. I was using that for sleep regulation before iPhone developed these features.
Make taking care of yourself a priority.
Over the past 26ish years, the way I move on Saturday mornings has shifted tremendously. Some of my earliest memories are of watching the MC Hammer or New Kids On The Block cartoons while eating cereal. At the time, I was probably hanging out in my favorite Knicks shirt and some UNC shorts. It was pretty cool after a hard week of doing whatever it is that three-year-olds do.
Looking back now, those were some great times. How I operate on Saturdays now, relaxed as it may be, is still about growth as much as my Mondays through Fridays are. Most Saturdays, I wake up to pull out my yoga mat and stretch (tip to my near/post-30 year olds: STRETCH!), after which I go into the kitchen and pour a cup of coffee, spread some cream cheese on a bagel (unless I feel like cooking), and head over to the NY Times website to see what’s going on in the world. Then it’s time to shower, shave, get to running a few errands, after which I can get to my crossword puzzles. I used to exercise on Saturdays but that’s been moved to my Sunday morning regimen.
Saturdays have changed and, as a kid, I would think of my current life as boring but this is fun. I’m learning, I’m growing, and I’m keeping myself sharp.
Construct a Saturday morning routine. Make it cathartic and enjoyable. And let it work for you.
Make professional development a priority.
Ever have that friend who shows up right on time to hang out but you really weren’t expecting them to be there when they were supposed to be?
This year, that friend is August. I’m sitting here looking at my calendar and August is HERE. Here here. As in here right this moment. I’m looking at all I’ve accomplished and, while I am pretty proud with some of my forward steps, I’m behind the 8-ball on a couple things.
So, now that we’ve realized our awesome buddy Auggie is here to crash on my couch for the next 31 days (only to be followed by his sweet sister September), I’ve got some tips for both myself and you all that will help us fast-track our way to reaching our 2018 goals before the ball drops.
- Maximize your time. We all need rest (not just sleep but truly restful periods) to be healthy, happy, and productive people. That being said, some of us have been resting a lot during these first seven months. Shoot, I just took a whole two months away from the United States (but I was working on some major projects while I was gone, so don’t get it twisted). Use your lunch breaks to knock out some smaller tasks or to get a larger task done over the course of a few lunches. If you need to, pick a day out of the weekend to truly wind down but, if you’ve got goals and you’re far behind, you have to make up for time wasted by grinding on that other day.
- Pick an accountability partner. Yesterday, I had lunch with two of my closest friends. We had a running challenge while I was out of the country. I lost badly. They picked on me. The challenge required that the losers buy the winner lunch and the winner certainly didn’t let us off the hook. If you have a goal but you’re having a hard time reaching it, get someone who is going to be honest with you and set some consequences for yourself if you don’t reach it.
- Cut out the unnecessaries. Do you need that burger? How about that beer? You say you want to save money but you’re going out again this Friday? Netflix is cheap (or free for some of us whose families are generous). You set a financial goal at the beginning of the year. What will you need to sacrifice to get there before the end? If you need some help, click this link and check out what George Acheampong can do to help you get on the right track.
- Nike said it best: Just Do It! Apply for that job. Start reading some books. Fill out those incorporation papers. Enter an art competition. You have time and you said that, at the end of 2018, you won’t be in the same place you were at the beginning, but, many times, what stops us from reaching our goals is that we over plan. It would be nice if the stars all aligned and everything was perfect but, to be realistic, that will not be the case very often. Sometimes, you just have to look at the plan you have, say “Shoot, this’ll get me 75% of the way,” and figure the other 25% while you’re on the journey.
We have five more months. That’s almost half a year. You can do this. Put in 2.2x the work and you’ll hit the mark. I know we can do this.
Make achieving your goals a priority.
On Tuesday night, I was having a talk with one of my good friends while I was driving back from Greensboro. We talked about developing good habits and changing destructive ones. It made me think back to the beginning of the year when I committed to living a healthier lifestyle during 2018. And I did for the first quarter. I was eating better, drinking less, and exercising at least five times a week. I even started off the second quarter like that. But, throughout this quarter, I’ve seen my resolve wane, and, this past week and a half, it has come to a complete standstill.
Because life happens. Over the past few weeks, work has been hectic, family has been demanding, and side hustles have been taking up my weekends. I just feel like I don’t have the time. But really, I haven’t had the drive to get it done. There are twenty-four hours in every single day and, where I started the year off using the first two waking hours of those twenty-four to focus on my spiritual, mental, and physical health, lately I’ve felt too drained to do that at all. But we’ll always have some excuse to say we’re drained, be it work or family or funds. But that’s no excuse. Realizing that, I have to work twice as hard to make up for the two weeks of quality work I haven’t put in at the gym or in the kitchen.
Don’t let your 180° change turn to a 360°. Good intentions will have you change for a short period of time. It takes true discipline to ingrain that change into your life. That’s not to say that you won’t hit slumps where you fall off the wagon but staying off is a choice. Choose to get back up and back on today.
Make developing a stronger resolve a priority.
Last week, I didn’t post to The Reader. I needed some time away so that I could marinate in my creative juices. And this blog wasn’t the only job I stepped away from.
When I’m gone (and I mean really gone) from work, I do my best to disconnect. I don’t check work e-mail more than twice a week (at which point I respond to whatever is truly time sensitive). I may choose to respond to an urgent work-related text but my responses are very quick and direct. In short, I make a true effort to protect the time I’ve carved out for myself, my family, and my friends.
Everyone doesn’t agree with my school of thought. Some people believe that endless work equates to a solid work ethic (whereas I equate that, in a salary role, to either poor time management skills, a lack of a personal life, a thirst for money and/or attention, or some combination of all these). When you work, work hard. When you play, play hard. Try to keep the two separate, if at all possible.
Living selflessly is great but you’ll never know how happy you can help someone else be until you explore and nourish that which truly fills your own spirit with joy. Like I said yesterday, time is a nonrenewable resource. Make sure you set some aside for yourself from time to time. That’s what adds color to a life that would otherwise be nothing but a monochromatic period of time.
Make protecting your joy a priority.
Time is the one resource that has been proven time and time again to be nonrenewable. It doesn’t have half-lives that extend its impact. You cannot develop a synthetic minute. It is what it is. We have a finite amount of time to experience an infinite combination of experiences and spending it on everything but your own purpose is an affront to the Creator.
That being said, make every moment the best one you’ve ever had. I’m aware that each second cannot be as exhilarating as your favorite memory. I will never be able to replicate the first time I had pieces published on Blavity or Revolt. Walking into work on Monday morning may not be as exciting the first time your vegan blog got 500 hits in a day. And I’m willing to bet that, no matter how she tries, I’m willing to bet a mother will never shed the tears of joy she did when she saw her firstborn child smile. But we can all choose to make an attempt at finding the beauty in every second. And, if there is no beauty in that moment, there is a lesson that can bring you to a beautiful place if you take heed.
Somewhere, the seconds we have are predetermined. Whether you will take your last breath because of old age or as a result of a meteor that comes crashing down to end humanity, no one knows is certain. What we do know is that we have a choice. Choose moments to make every moment matter.
Make meaningful moments a priority.
“How tragic it is to find that an entire lifetime is wasted in pursuit of distractions while purpose is neglected.” ― Sunday Adelaja
I had no clue that much of what I prayed for would come at one time. Opportunities, influence, good credit, a healthier mind and body, more spiritual awareness. I almost wasn’t ready. But then I slowed down/cut out everything else that wasn’t necessary and I worked to prepare myself at the same time that these blessings were showing up. Because what wasn’t going to happen was me being able to say “Wait, I’m not ready. Come back in 6 months, please. Thanks, God.”
It’s not that there isn’t enough time in the day. It’s that we aren’t using the time we have effectively. Every single second counts, which is why rushing isn’t always a great decision. If I’m bouncing back and forth between the living room and the bedroom in the morning because I didn’t slow down to think about what I really needed to get from the living room, I’m doing myself a disservice. Sure, I only spent 90 seconds actually in the living room but how much time did I waste walking back and forth? Or putting down what I was doing in the bedroom to recommence something in the living room?
That appears to be a pointless example but it is indicative of what we do every day. Those 90 seconds could allow me to catch a stop light on the way out of my neighborhood, resulting in me missing a huge traffic jam that would’ve made me 40 minutes late to an 8:30 meeting. Every single second counts.
What if, at the end of each night, we planned what the next day needs to look like in 30 minute increments? You know when you need to do tasks that require the most brain power and you know when you can waste an hour doing mindless tasks like cleaning out your e-mail inbox (NOTE TO SELF: SET ASIDE AN HOUR FOR THIS TOMORROW). And you’ll rarely make everything happen perfectly, but the structure is what matters. It serves as a guide for what you ought to be doing.
Life is all about maximizing time. It’s ok to take breaks. There’s nothing wrong with napping. But invest the time required on the front end to be your most productive self throughout the day. Time is the one thing we can never get back so we have to make the most of it.
Make being intentional a priority.