It’s 7:00 am on a crisp fall morning in upstate New York and I am walking the dog. I am also dressed — in real clothes. In a half hour, I’ll pack my messenger bag and nag my son out the door for our one-hour commute.
My son is going to a new school and I’ve adopted a new work routine. And I have to admit, the forced get-up-and-go is having a marked effect on my working habits.
In the old days (that is, last school year), I rose up at a similar time, around 6:30 am, and like now, making coffee was the first task. I’d still nag kids out the door — “Do you have your instrument/ lunch/ form I signed for you last night?” but many days I would delay the getting-to-work part. I’d check email and Facebook over coffee. Then I’d have another cup of coffee. I’d put the dishes in the dishwasher or start a load of laundry.
I’d tell the dog, “We’ll go out soon.” I was likely still wearing the T-shirt I’d slept in and only added yoga pants and a fleece pullover. Good enough for walking the dog, whenever I got around to that.
Back then, I got my work done and I met my deadlines. I also partook in a lot of kvetching on Facebook about procrastination, or foot-dragging, or how I’d frittered the morning away.
Now? I’m dressed and walking the dog at 7 am. When I get to my workplace a little before 9 am — whether at a coffee shop or at my friends’ house where I use their college-aged daughter’s bedroom as my private office — I get to work. Simply and surely.
It’s partly because there’s nothing else to do. I’m stuck in a town I don’t live in for the next six hours. So I work.
It’s partly because after an hour of driving, it feels wrong to squander another hour on Facebook and Twitter and email.
But I think a large part of this new workday behavior is a function of getting up and getting going. The rituals of leaving the house at an early hour truly puts me in the mindset for work. (Okay, the hour commute helps too. I listen to the news, but I’m often thinking about work. First I have to do that. Don’t forget to email her. Maybe if I frame the story this way…)
One fact about working for yourself is that every act of your day is open to debate: Should I do this now or later? That can be incredibly freeing, but there are inherent pitfalls — especially for a procrastinator like me.
My new routine, driven by getting my kid to school, forces a certain number of “just do it” acts and for me, the performance of these acts function as a practice, a rehearsal for my work tasks later in the morning. I have to transcribe an interview? Just do it. I have to sketch out a draft of that article?
Just do it.
Photo credit: Jill U Adams.