There are so many disadvantages to living in Michigan in the winter time and there are so many things working against my mood and focus. Summer time is so much more inspirational with the sunshine, birds chirping, and longer days. I wish it was possible for summer time me to poke my head in once in a while and remind me of the things that I already know need to be done to keep me at the top of my winter day games. Unfortunately that can’t happen and I sometimes get to taken down by the grays outside and the bitter cold that I forget those tools exist. Fueled, I bet, by yesterday’s out of season warmth and sunshine, I started making a list of what perks me up when I’ve got the cold weather blues, and am incorporating them in my daily to-do list.
#1 is lighting. Duh. When I drop the kids off for school in the spring and fall, it’s already light by the time I get home and dig into work. I have already felt the benefits of the sunshine on my skin. As we spiral off into morning darkness, I am so on autopilot that I just dig into work and forget to light up the house! It’s not exactly dark – it’s just gray and gloomy. So first thing when I come in – Turn up the lights.
#2 is music. The music is probably actually the most important tool but logistically speaking, the first thing I should do when I come in the house is turn on the lights as pass by them. Then tune in some tunes. The selection of music is tricky though. It positively cannot have words. I know everybody is different but I cannot write with people talking or singing around me unless I am already deep in the zone. So for instance, as much as The Black Eyed Peas get me excited to do laundry and scrub bathrooms, they kill my writing mojo instantly. Instrumental music can be a downer though. Bordering on funeral-ish. I find that orchestral strings are the best writing music for me. Even when the song is sad, there is always this great BUILD UP that subconsciously gets my adrenalin pumping and motivation high. Paired with ocean sounds or chirping birds through the window in the summer and I’m a writing machine morning til night!
#3 Lists. In addition to the order and organization of a list, I get satisfaction and further motivation from checking things off and seeing my accomplishments before me. Such a simple easy addition but for maximum effect I have to do it the night before so I’m ready to get busy in the morning.
#4 Stretch breaks. Yup. Still struggling with this one. Even though it is possible to make it through my work day and cross everything off my list and be productive withOUT taking breaks to exercise, it is still taking a toll on me and my body for the rest of the day. When I take regular breaks for movement during the work day, I have more energy and longevity into homework, showers, and bed times with the kids.
There are always more things you can do to jazz up your work day but it’s more likely to stick if you keep the changes small and simple. That’s what I’m banking on anyway. What is the key to your successful work day? What kind of music do you like to listen to when you’re creating?