Change My Life plan

Well, I didn't get up early yesterday morning (after my previous post) , and then I felt all grumpy about it.

But today? I got up before 7:00 and I made it to 8:00 yoga. Virtue and happiness are shining out of my pores.

I actually prefer to exercise in the afternoon or evening, after I've had the chance to stretch out during the day. My focus is better, and I can rid myself of any stress from the day. At 8:00 a.m. I don't yet usually have any stress. But I've realized that the stress of not being sure if I'll be able to make it to class in the afternoon is worse than the drawbacks of morning exercise. Plus I'm a much nicer person after yoga, so why not have that throughout the day?

At another level, too, trying to get up early is part of my ongoing struggle with depression. If I make a commitment to get up early and follow through on it, it really helps set the tone for the rest of the day. Not to mention all the good effects of a hot yoga class. I know that there really isn't any moral virtue to what time of day you get up. Many of the most productive people I know are night owls. I used to work late into the night myself. But the flexibility of an academic schedule (particularly in the summer when I'm not teaching), which I prize greatly, can also be really problematic and overwhelming for me when I'm depressed. I get up kind of late, and then have a hard time organizing my time productively.

So my Change My Life plan looks something like this:
  • get up early to go to 8:00 yoga at least 4 days a week
  • try to wash dishes and do all the kitchen chores before bed so I don't wake up to them
  • work on writing projects 6 days a week
  • take one day totally off each week
  • eliminate piles of paper, books, and miscellaneous stuff
The last point will be the hardest one to achieve, but actually might improve my mind more than anything else. I've been really loving my new office on campus -- because I just moved into it, and because the semester hasn't started yet, my desk is still totally clear. I put everything away each night and when I walk in there I feel so calm and happy. Achieving that at home will be much harder (there are more surfaces to watch out for, and more kinds of things that accumulate). Piles create stress for me, even when I'm the one who created them. One of the best organizational books I know is How To be Organized in Spite of Yourself which I found at the library many years ago. It's sort of the Myers-Briggs of organization -- you take a few little quizzes and figure out which space & time profile fits you. Unlike most organization books which proclaim one method as the only way to do things, this book offers you different strategies. Some people need to see everything in front of them to understand their work; some people feel happier having a clear desktop. I'm definitely in the latter category. Having my beautiful clear office at campus has reminded me of how important that is, so it's something I want to actively work on at home.

If I can put this plan into effect for the next two weeks, I'll be halfway to habit formation when the semester starts. Hopefully then it will stick.