Do you ever have those mornings where you wake up like a Disney princess with the smiling sun nudging you from peaceful slumber while singing birds tie ribbons in your hair as you whistle a chipper morning tune?  Yeah, me neither.   Most of my mornings consist of me rolling out of bed too late because I stayed up too late, and then rushing to make it look like I might have showered so I can grab a coffee before work and (hopefully) only be 5 minutes late.

It wasn’t always like this.  There was a time when I actually woke up early (like, really early) to work out for 45 minutes, and then arrive at my 9 a.m. class full of energy.  I wrote a chapter a week, did a crossword every day, and was generally happy, despite a distinct lack of social life.  What happened?

Now that life is busier, I am realizing that I suck at time management.  Despite my deliberately working three part-time jobs to give myself time to devote to other projects, I am left feeling like I have no time, or at least that I waste a lot of time because it takes me so long to re-focus myself after work.  I am not working on my book, or my blog, or any of the other numerous things I told myself I would do after graduation to the standard I want to.  This has been making me irritable, and frankly, kind of a bitch to be around.

Enter, my good friend. She works a 9-5, and told me the advice she got from her father, a very busy man.  She said that every day after work, she forces herself to do some kind of physical activity that marks the start of her “away from work time.”  Sometimes it’s the gym, sometimes it’s a Pilates class, and sometimes it’s just a walk or a short hike, but every day, she devotes at least 45 minutes to clearing her mind of work.  How simple, right?  What common sense.  I needed a ritual, a small, daily thing that told me that it was time to focus on my own work, the work that is meaningful to me.

So, today after work, I took a beach walk.  It was originally supposed to be a beach run, but we’ll get there when we get there.  It was beautiful, not too hot, a little windy, but perfectly for a contemplative walk.  I got about half way down the beach, when out in the surf I saw dolphins!  Tons of dolphins flipping and playing so close to shore you could probably swim out to them if you weren’t afraid of the water like me.  I returned home refreshed and ready to work. I did at least a little bit of everything on my list, and even managed to squeeze in a crossword and some laundry.  This will mark the start of a weekly un-wind post, or the balance between work-work and life-work that is often overlooked but so important.