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Thanks for visiting Joy42. Follow along on my adventures as an American Expat. I hope to encourage you to seek out the little joys in your life.

Setting the Tone for the Day

Setting the Tone for the Day

In the last few months, I've realized the importance of the first 30 minutes of the day. I spent the first half of the year Skyping with Luke every (weekday) morning from about 5:00-5:30. That's not a bad way to start the day! But now that my life looks a little differently, I'm having a harder time settling into a good routine.

I have every intention of starting the day unplugged, not looking at my phone, not switching on the TV. It was my goal in August and September after all. I haven't been doing so hot lately, but I can tell you for certain, the days I start off social media and without Netflix are measurably better days. (So why not start every day that way, Hannah?!)

On my best days, I put my phone away and pull out my prayer journal instead. Okay, I might get the phone out for my worship playlist on Spotify and to use the 30/30 app. Afterward, I spend 30 minutes reading my book. I usually have a cup of warm lemon water, which aids digestion, helps flush toxins, boosts the immune system, among many other benefits. I also use the 30/30 app to limit my time on social media to 30 minutes.

When I start my day this way, I'm more likely to work out at some point. I'm more likely to get outside. I might even be more likely to have a healthier lunch. I start my day feeling productive and I continue to stay motivated to tick things off my to-do list throughout the day.

On my worst days, I pick up my phone to turn off my alarm and immediately tap over to social media to catch up, which has become a bigger task thanks to the time difference. (So many posts while I'm sleeping!) Seriously yesterday when I first looked up at the time (on the same screen!) it had been nearly two hours. Like, what?! How?!

When I start my day this way, I'm likely to skip my prayer journal, my book, my cup of warm lemon water, and my work out. It's basically lunch time and somehow that makes it feel like the day is nearly over so why bother starting anything?

The other day a friend shared a video on Facebook about using a technique inspired by a rocket launch. It's The 5 Second Rule. Mel Robbins talks about the lowest point in her life and not being able to beat the snooze button every morning until she started counting down from 5 out loud, like NASA. She explains, "You have about a 5 second window in which you can move from idea to action before your brain kicks into full gear and sabotages any change in behavior. Remember, your brain is wired to stop you from doing things that are uncomfortable, uncertain, or scary. It's your job to learn how to move from those ideas that could change everything into acting on them." Adding, "When you understand the power of a 5 second decision and you understand that you always have a choice to go from autopilot to decision maker, everything in your life will change. You'll realize the amount of garbage that you put in the way of your hopes, of your dreams, of your potential, of your confidence, of your courage. Everything comes down to the decisions that you make." The short video clip ends with her talking about how in her lowest point, the desire to change was still there, she just didn't know how to do it. That really resonated with me because last week, as I touched on here on Monday, I experienced that. I was lying on the couch thinking of all the things I wanted to do instead, all the things I should do instead, unable to do any of them. So now I feel better than I did last week, but this week I've still been struggling to get out of bed. This might help first thing in the morning and throughout the rest of my day, especially in this strange professional limbo.

This week I also downloaded the Headspace app to try meditation. A few people have posted about it recently on social media and a friend invited me to participated in a guided mediation through the app months ago. I figured now is as good of time as any to test the waters, but I only started yesterday.

Setting the right tone for the day is important to me. I know myself and I know how difficult it is for me to overcome a rough start. I remember days of bad Skype or WhatsApp connections with Luke and suddenly I'm grumpy and edgy all morning. I'm determined to get better at creating my own good start rather than hoping things will fall into place on their own. I'm determined to outsmart my own brain in 5 seconds while making decisions that I've been struggling to make. I'm determined to set aside time in the morning to be with God, to be in a book, to be in my breathing.

What do you do in the mornings to make sure you're setting yourself up for a productive day? 

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