There are 288 five-minute moments in a day that can be turned into joy.
Some of that will be sleep. We all need it and you can charge yourself with that particular time, but what about the other 240 moments in a day (yeah, I’m assuming that you’re not sleeping enough as it is right now).
Mainly because that was me a few years ago. I had massive insomnia and it would take forever to fall asleep and forever to wake up.
Now, I leisurely wake up while I do my morning routine, but that was by design. Yes, I do spend an hour from when I make start making my coffee before I’m expected to have a coherent sentence on the page. But it’s not like I spend the whole time in bed.
I joke that I started with the idea that I was only comfortable with being on camera for five minutes at a time, and that’s why I started there. But there’s a little bit of truth to that moment. My morning routine was not an overnight I decided to have one and then it stuck.
It’s taken me ten years to get it to a system that really works.
I started with making my bed. Which takes five minutes because I had like forty pillows and more than enough blankets involved. It is also probably what saved my life at one time or another.
The Start of Something Great
When I was a freshman in college I had two roommates. One, for three weeks until I switched rooms, and then the other after that. She, I say this lovingly, was a bit of neat freak. Dishes were washed at the end of every day. The bed was made. She got out of bed at about the same time everyday. She didn’t drink coffee but she loves hot chocolate. At one point, she did describe me as bit of vampire to her parents.
I rarely left our room, I didn’t know how to actually make friends without them reaching out, and I would hiss when she’d turn on lights. This was also the time period when an older girl knocked on my door and kept me from doing something badly drastic.
The beginning of October my roommate had had enough of my ‘moping’. That’s really what it was. I had this dream of this freeing college experience and I wasn’t able to participate because I didn’t have money. There would be no help from my parents. I’m almost past my bitterness. Maybe when I finish paying off my student loans.
So, in the wisdom that she gained from having fabulous parents, she dragged me to an event where she was like ‘There are music people here, you will like at least one of them’.
She was right. She was also pleased that she’d helped my little lost soul in the process. I may have been her first solo project, but I was not her last. There’s a meme on tumblr that shows up on my feed of this family that prevents the apocalypse by adopting the would-be antichrist and loving the devil out of him. I was by no means evil, but I sure wasn’t happy.
So I started making my bed. And letting my own orderly sense of self back in.
The ‘Start Routine’
I am never going to be one of those people who even suggests that getting up at four in the morning regularly is a good idea. Special occasion of seeing the sunrise, once in your life? Okay, that might be a good reason.
However, my brain does not like running any of my mental processes before the sun comes up. It will however run until two in the morning. I like to refer to things as a ‘start’ routine because it is what you start the day with, whatever time you wake up. If you work over night and don’t get up till 4 in the afternoon and go into work at 7pm, it’s still a start routine.
Mine, has become a pattern and I’ve found that doing it in a certain order helps move my day into a positive realm.
I start by making my bed and then writing out my journal page for the day. The tasks that I could get done and relieve myself of that burden. The way I feel about my own body (aches, pains, and the like) and then I list the three important things of the day.
What will make me feel more focused and on task?
What will make me feel more energized for the day?
What is the one thing that will make all other things unnecessary or redundant?
The first is my own invention because of my ongoing battle with my ADHD. The other two are from others that I felt was massively important to getting my day on track. Mel Robbins has the 5 Second Journal, a companion to her book “5 Second Rule” that I read and really liked. The third question is from Gary Keller because much as I like giving myself choices about what to choose for the day, I like knowing what would make my life easier.
Then I do my gratitude. I used to do a list of three things, because that was recommended somewhere. Probably the internet. Then it spread to filling a certain amount of the page with my gratitude.
Recently, I started making the section at the bottom of the journal page which allows me to reread it more often because that’s the part of my planner I see when I flip through looking for something. I like it, but I only started that in the middle of last month when I got frustrated with my task list for the coming day, and decided to just put in on the bottom of the page.
Next, I start taking chunks from Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning, and read my scriptures. Currently I’m studying a psalm a week. For the last bit, I’ve been taking a chapter a week and studying various books of the bible. It’s interesting to see what sticks out of material that I’ve read more than once recently and how it relates to the particular that has just passed or the one coming. Sundays, I focus on whatever section my church sermon is on.
Next up I read a chapter of a self development book and take notes. I’m not looking for any massive insight. Just something that tweaks what I already have going.
After that, I do affirmations and a visualization. This is the latest addition to my start routine. I was a skeptic. I started by doing the person I see myself in ten years and writing ten statements about that woman. It always felt a little forced.
Then I would do a list of affirmations that felt important to tell myself. Some were repeats every single day.
‘I am enough’ was one that is on every single day that I’ve done it.
I switched the order that I was doing these this month and do the affirmations before I do the visualizations and we’ll see if I like that order in a few months. I also switched it to five things in five years.
Then I list of three things that I need to do to either preserve my sanity or further my dreams. I try to make this a list of three things because three seems like a good number of choices. Great days are when I get all three done, good days are when I get one of them done.
The point of this is that each of these tasks outside of reading a self development chapter takes five minutes*.
This is a process that has been in mutation for ten years. It started to work when I started guilting myself with blank pages in a journal with the date written on them. It moved a little when I started doing a four sentence journal. It was a series of trial and error.
I hear the advice that you should have a to do list with only three things on it. I tried that. God, that was a bad system for me. I got literally nothing done. So I went back to what was working, but made it a point to point out which things were über important. That’s helping, somewhat…
I think that as we change, what we need changes, but drastic measures only work in drastic situations.
When your entire life is not what you want, moving to another city, state, country, might be the only option to get you out of your rut. This week is the mark of three years of having left Texas. I was in a rut, and I wasn’t digging myself out. I had expectations, rules, and life that just didn’t add up to what I valued. But I was entrenched.
So I did the only thing that I hadn’t tried. And I thank God, it worked. I got out of the rut. I learned a hell of a lot of things about myself as a person, and I’ve learned that those things are tools, tricks, and tips that I can share.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, you just need to strengthen the spokes.
So your homework this week is to make your little piece of joy consistent. I’d start with the first five minutes you wake up.
*Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle took an hour each day, but man did I hone in on a few things about myself.