7 Feb 2016

Inspire Aspire - Morning Defrag

Morning Defrag - as I call it - might sound like Morning Decaf but don't get yourselves deluded! Morning Defrag is a highly-energised caffeinated powerhouse that sets you on your working day focused and ready. It is all about self-organisation. All these years in England, I used it instinctively and it grounded me. Then I recognised the pattern and channelled it and understood how it took me from a state of morning haggard hazard to morning calm. This is a routine you need to incorporate into your life if your bed-to-work journey is hectic and chaotic.

A Date with Fate 2 by Jack Vettriano

I will state emphatically that I am NO morning person. The thought of getting up early frazzles me. So imagine how difficult and painful it was for me to get up at the crack of dawn for a work start at 6:30am or 7:00am! I had to get myself organised. Apart from those specific work assignments, my working day usually started later, some time between 8:00am and 9:00am, depending on the workplace.

There was nothing left for improvisation in my morning. I got up an hour before due to leave, so everything had to be timed, and divided into half an hour for getting ready and half an hour for breakfast. That gave me manageable time and this was a great help to me! Be warned that skipping breakfast in order to have extra time in bed is a false economy; it will burn you out come mid-morning because you will be running on empty!

It all started off with a good night's sleep. Then as soon as the alarm went off, I got up. No snooze buttons! Straight to shower, then dressed up. Down for a good hearty breakfast of hot chocolate and muesli (mixed together, yep!), followed by a glass of fruit juice, sat down at the table, to set me off for the long day ahead. I'd then prepare my lunchbox. If I wasn't running late, I took my doggie out for a quick walk round the block, or popped a few items in the washer, or whatever quick household task I could handle. The make-up routine, I have to say, was stripped down to the bare minimum. So forget the Kardashian contouring!

'Reade St Shadows', oil on linen by Stephen Magsig (2015)

Then I would leave, always aiming for that 5-10 minutes leeway prior to my absolute cut-off time of leaving the house. Because commuting is the biggest chance you're taking every single day, timewise. You have a rough idea of how long it is supposed to take, but then traffic jams, roadworks, accidents and other delays will set you back big time and aggravate your day!

I would take no chances on the road. That side street that looks like a shortcut is a bad idea to investigate impromptu on one's way to work! Investigate the feasibility of those alternative travel routes on a day off.

Depending on how I was feeling that day, I would either have the radio on (BBC Radio 1 in my case), or some pre-recorded music tracks that I liked, just to keep my mind off the stress of driving. Sometimes I was just content with the sound off. While stuck in traffic (inevitable in North West England!), I would - while paying attention to the road - get myself mentally prepared for the whole day ahead.

'47 Greene St', oil on linen by Stephen Magsig (2015)

I'd approach that quite methodically, yet without forcing my thoughts out. Usually I would start off with thinking about personal/ housekeeping/ family matters that I needed to address or deal with that very day or later in the week, and often I would find myself in a propitious frame of mind: clear-headed, sharp, spot on and business-like efficient at that particular time of day, and solutions would present themselves to me without trying too hard.

And from there my thoughts would drift towards work, important things to do that day, and I would prioritise them in my head. I would break the tasks down, and by doing so and approaching them from outside the workplace, I would have the focus, the perspective, the insight, the light bulb moment that might not have been that clear-cut at work - even if it were staring me in the face!

It became clear to me that my brain was reorganising jumbled up information and making sense of it into its next stage as follow-ups, conclusions, solutions and calls to action. My brain was like a computer being defragmented, rearranging data in a more workable way.

By the time I got to work, after my one hour commute or so, I would be raring for action, my ideas organised, solutions to the ready, new avenues to explore, reminders flashing in my head, and there was no stopping me. And as much as my long daily commute never was a piece of enjoyment in itself, I wonder whether I would have felt that prepared for work, should my commute had been short! Think this one over and praise the long journeys to work that take you to the roads less travelled... of the mind!

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