Focusing on First Things First

Attitude of Gratitude, self improvement, The Inspired Life, Writing

There is the saying: I got out of the wrong side of the bed today.

A rather silly saying, but used to mean, “I didn’t get the day started off properly” and once things started off in the wrong direction, well…down the hill it went, like Jack and Jill, and no one could quite get it back the rest of the day. Sometimes, a bad start to the day is a spill of milk or running out of coffee. ( That one will set me off FOR SURE) or the children will bicker.

Sometimes, though, the alarm goes off and you don’t get up. You roll over, skip the work out, talk yourself out of your morning routine and then it’s a rush to get into traffic, a rush to sit in it and a rush to get out. Life is no fun. We KNOW this isn’t good for us. We KNOW we feel better when we stick to our routines, do our work out, eat healthy, clean up a little and throw in that laundry before we are sniffing the undies in hope that they are clean, so WHY oh WHY do we let ourselves get into the muddle of last minute muck up?

It’s because we are living a reactive life rather than a proactive one. It’s a matter of making sure the garden is full of beautiful flowers that has no room for weeds to grow, or letting things slide so far that all you have now is a big weed garden and all you do is pull weeds and have no fun.

I want my home to be a pretty place with a cheery welcoming front door, with an organized life behind that door, pretty flowers and a peaceful, fun atmosphere. I want my body to be healthy and trim, exercised and well nourished, my family fed and in shape as well. I want to explore my creativity, challenge my comfort zones and expand my horizons as a person, while maintaining my identities as a mother, a wife, a daughter and a friend.

I also want to be a full time writer- who actually begins to earn a living from her craft. I want to paint more. I am inspired by my friend Amy Palko to do more with my photography. ( see photo above, a picture I took on our honeymoon in Ireland). My creative playground is a place where I could hang out for hours, writing and painting, playing my guitar, my drums, hanging out in my garden, or….I could get lost in the world of reading books….and never come out to play at all….

Of course there is the wonderland rabbit hole of the bloggers Intenet. Read just one blog and leave a comment. Then notice an interesting title in Commentluv. Click on it. Follow down the rabbit-hole to somewhere interesting…read…leave a comment…notice one of your favorite bloggers put up a new post…click……funny-how-the-day-went way.

Any one of these things done first…and nothing else at all could get done.

No exercise, no laundry, no dinner for the family, no grocery shopping, no return phone calls to whoever was on the TO DO list. Then the next day piles up, and the next and life turns in to a big catch up game. The house isn’t clean. I don’t know what is for dinner. I feel more sluggish because the exercise didn’t happen. And oh, by the way, now the muse has left me, because the MUSE thinks I should go get my dang house work done too!

First things first.

In order for MY life to work right, things have to be done in a certain order. I need to get up in the morning and have my quiet time. The very first and MOST important first for me. The time of the day to get centered and focus on gratitude and love and priorities. Miss that one, and I HAVE gotten out on the wrong side of the bed. Then I have to check that list of things to do. Then the kitchen, the daily chores, and laundry. Then kids and husband all settled and then exercise. EVERY DAY. Then and only then can I turn on the Creative Juice. If I do it backwards and let the juices flow first, they spill all over and get things soggy.  Now, the added advantage is the Muse will most often come and visit while I am in the routine of the ordinary. When I am doing the little ordinary things where the brain can switch off, then my mind can wander off to play with the muse and go visiting off to *wonderland* that beautiful little world of “I wonder this and I wonder that”, which is a very creative place for a writer’s brain to be.

This isn’t to say that I always get this right. This is to say in fact…that I start to get it right..stumble…fall…get back up and start again. But I do know HOW to do it right. When I’m not distracted. When I FOCUS on putting first things first. When I start my day right side up. Sunny side up.

How about you? What is your routine? How do you manage being a creative person and keep it all together? Do you do the same things every day in the same way? Do you have a first things first? An order to your madness? Please share!



25 thoughts on “Focusing on First Things First

  1. First things first.

    Thank you for a nice post.

    Now, on to my thoughts – I am a big fan of Covey’s work, and yet sometimes I stumble. I know better, of course. Time in excess, I do not have, so I must choose important work – things important to me. Sometimes, that means doing absolutely nothing (!) so as to sharpen the saw.

    I found what helped me was to set up a daily schedule – and put my own personal projects FIRST, right away in the morning. No sense in giving my best to my company, and then trying to work on my writing and so forth when I’m tired. I mean, I still do work on it at night – but I can have fun, knowing I’ve given my best right when I was fresh.

    Because, I’m just like you… full of wonder, always thinking “what’s this all about?”


  2. I thought I had a routine, then went on vacation and can’t seem to get it back. It doesn’t help that things will be a little crazy for the next two weeks! I will keep fighting to get back on track though!

  3. The word Rush does not exist in my world.

    What is your routine? (An order to your madness?)
    I have a scheduled routine each day from waking to sleeping. It is a must to assist with my personal madness – the Bipolar swings. I do not deviate – period. Favorite person is actually a fictional detective known as Monk. He shares the obsessive side of me. Living alone makes scheduling so easy.

    How do you manage being a creative person and keep it all together?
    I have streamlined my life totally and times for creative writing are set aside during major times of day and late night/early morning. Life’s other duties are around these time periods. They are secondary!

    Do you do the same things every day in the same way?
    Absolutely, except for the walks which are altered to different areas and also the writing which takes me on trips not even imagined till the fingers start to move and the stories write themselves.

    Do you have a first things first?
    Upon waking, stretches, bathroom, feed cats and clean litter boxes, care for him, shower, wash hair, makeup applied, clothes donned, liquid protein shake downed,
    and out the door for gym workout. Back home for a small breakfast and then first writing time.

    And so the schedule continues. . . . . . .

  4. I find it really helps being single with no kids!

    That gives me PLENTY of time for creativity! 🙂

  5. Friar,

    I do think that helps. Living alone, like you and Ms O, gives more of an even keal to a schedule. There is ALWAYS something here ready to upset a mother’s apple cart. Nothing like 31 years of parenting to keep a person flexible!
    But when it comes to setting down a consistent routine flexible isn’t always good. Flexible can be inconsistent very fast!

  6. Jenny, yes, just coming back from vacation DOES make it hard. I am struggling with that too. But having a plan helps. At Least I KNOW what to do even if it doesn’t happen every day, I have at least an outline of a gpal, a map..something to shoot for. A target. It keeps me at least somewhat on track. I’d hate to imagine what I would be like without it!!!

  7. So Brett, you write before the other stuff?
    I do my quiet time writing/ journal stuff. But if I did the other stuff, I’m afraid the whole day would disapear into space. Maybe I’m just scared. Hmmm.

  8. Wendi, think of Shirley Jackson writing “The Lottery” in her head as she pushed a pram to the market. Remember that Jean Kerr was editing “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” in her car parked a block away from her family home. And, my favorite, Betty MacDonald, dreaming up (not writing but keeping it in her head) from her bed in the tuberculosis asylum!
    Oh, lets remember Jane Austen and all those women who did not have the advantage of growing up after the massive cultural (and educational) reform by that second wave of feminism! And with all constraints, still took time for their creativity.

    Take 15 minutes, if that is all you have in a morning or afternoon. Let’s start a group here of at least, 15 minutes taken. . . . What did you do in the past 15 minutes?
    Ms. O
    Being alone does not always belay the act of procrastination! (giggle)
    Why my schedule is paramount!

  9. Yes…understanding what it means to just take your time and take things slow…i am reminded of your post. This reminds me to just slow down and wait a while. lol. great post. Sherita

  10. Welcome Back Wendi! Great post! If I I’m training for an event I am on a strict schedule and pretty much I will not veer from it. In regular life, morning prayer and quiet time start the day, and if I fail to do do that first, the whole day goes cattywompus. I write in the morning and save meetings, admin stuff for the afternoon. I also work out in the mornings but will also sometimes power through the morning and then work out. I’ve learned to be focused but also have some flexibility. Stuff happens and sometimes my family actually wants to spend time with me (the nerve of them) so I have learned to make it work. I think for me too it helps that even when in Corporate I had a flexible schedule. So going into business, I had already worked offsite for more than 10 years and learned to work anywhere…and I do mean anywhere. Oh boy the stories I could tell. 🙂

  11. @Wendi,

    Yes – I try (emphasis on “try”, as it doesn’t always work!) to write first thing in the day. I do write at other times too. I find I can think and plan fairly well later in the day. But my writing is freshest right after a good sleep. The added bonus is that it actually seems to help me at work too. I feel like I’ve done something good that I wanted to do, and then I don’t procrastinate at my paying job 🙂


    I love that word “cattywompus”. Sounds like the sound of my kids playing…

  12. It’s always a challenge to be spontaneous and dutiful at the same time. I try not to have a set routine though, a basic routine but one that can be changed on a whim. I hope you have nice dreams tonight!

  13. Wendi,

    Oh, yes. Method to madness. I must have my “me” time before the little person gets up, just a little quiet before the craziness starts. Must imagine myself the only one awake in the world, check a few blogs, read a bit of a magazine, drink a little milk, putter in the kitchen a bit… then it’s alarm clock for daughter, morning hugs, and shower-races, suit, makeup, normal stuff. Without the bit of quiet time first, I am cranky and harried; with it, the racing around flows much better.

    Oh. Then traffic. You had to remind me!

    Great post. First things first is one of our big mantras around here. I love your take on it.



  14. Hi Wendi,

    I work in a the home office for our business. That means the phone can be ringing at 6:00 a.m or at 9:30 p.m.. There is no such thing as routine. Just when I start one project, the phone might ring, and I’m out the door, or jumping to another program on my computer to type a letter or proposal. Depending on the weather and other uncontrollable elements, sometimes the crew is done early, other times they work until dark. I haven’t had a set dinner hour for so many years, I can’t remember the time when I did. I have learned to go with the flow, never knowing where it will take me.

    I have found I need to squeeze me time (creating time) in whenever I can, and often that’s late at night when the house is quiet.

  15. Barbara,

    I was a Realtor for over 6 years, working at home- phone stuck in my ear all hours of the day and night. I finally had to learn to set some boundaries and guidelines. Learned not to jump so high every time the phone rang, but it was HARD. IT burnt me crispy! I get exactly what you are saying. Back then I just shut the creative side of myself off, except for using it through my work.
    I don’t ever want to to that again. I was miserable.

    Art must come out in an artist. or the artist goes nuts. that’s my thought on it.

  16. Kelly! Good to see you back here,

    Hey, I have been at your blog a few times this week reading and haven’t had a chance to leave a comment, I have been so busy catching up. But I have been enjoying your posts.
    I always wanted to get good at caligraphy. And believe me, as a Realtor, I know a bunch of those *shower* type guys you were talking about. Made me laugh! ( everyone go check it out-if you haven’t. )
    Do you go to an outside work office then? I thought you worked from home.

  17. Daz,

    Thanks, Dreams were ok last night…nothing too strange. ( everyone, for the story behind this, I had a dream about an art Museum that Daz and I were in. for full details- visit his blog where I told him the story and he interpreted it for me. thanks for that by the way!)
    Spontaneous and dutiful. I guess that is pretty close to the balance I am looking for. As a Mom/Wife, people here are depending on me and and I can’t just blow things off, but as an artist of many flavors, if it always gets pushed on the backburner, it never gets done. Sometimes you have to write/paint/whatever -when you can. I am working on creating a summer schedule here that I think will work. After quiet time, getting the Chores done bright and early leaves me the rest of the day to be spontaneous and free of mind and time. I think that works best for me.

  18. Oh, I hear you Wendi! I had to by an organizer to actually schedule when I would have “blog” time. Or I can easily waste the day on it. And I don’t have ADD, I like to focus, so I don’t like jumping from blog to blog.

    My most creative time for writing is when I first get up. I try to protect that time. And then I take Carolyn to school, come home and get on with articles, photo shoots, whatever.

    But your recovering from vacation, also. Give yourself a break. You’ll get into the routine again.

  19. Okay, ya got me. I had a great routine started for the first time ever back in October…healthy eating, some exercise, a tidy house, and a pattern to my day. Never felt so robust.

    Then classes started.

    Then I started blogging.

    That new “job” revolved around writing and networking, the last things I thought I’d ever do, and yet? A tough school semester got mixed in, and also working out how I’m gonna earn a living. In that whirlwind my routine got swept away. I’m only just now getting back to sleeping a sensible amount at a sensible time.

    Last night I looked at the clutter-hell and wonder “How did this happen?” Early this morning the answer snuck out of my Denial Box: “Happened the same way it’s going to unhappen…one day at a time!”

    As always, your “little inspirations” aren’t at all little 🙂 So glad to read about everyone’s ups and downs with a routine, and the success of having one. Very encouraging to know there’s a life beyond this clutterful space and closets and desk!

    Big huge welcome back…not that you’ve heard me say that before 😉

  20. I struggle with this all the time. I’m always falling in and out of my routine, sometimes for days, other times for months. Occasionally for years. I think it’s because I like a change every now and then, so I make it a point to shuffle things around. But one thing is certain, if you do get up on the wrong side of the bed, taking those few moments to sit and be peaceful and gracious can change everything (for the better)!

  21. Crystal,

    And welcome back to you here! Its good to have the gang all gathered around chatting again. I really missed this. Sometimes I think I am the one who gets inspired the most!

    You are so right…one day at a time…or as Flylady says…babysteps!

  22. Ellen,

    Thank you for reminding me to take it easy on myself coming back from vacation. You know, that is somthing I would remind someone else, but when it comes to myself…hmm..I’m all like…what happened here?????

  23. Melissa,
    goodness gracious, what were you doing rummaging in the spam filter! So glad I got you out! That pesky filter!
    I think the fact that I like change and basicly abhor routine is a big part of my problem. I like the idea of a routine..but I get bored quickly and get a new idea for how things could be done better and woof poof off I go…. down the shoot….

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  25. I believe doing first things right up early in morning could not always prove good. Sometimes you just feel so sleepy, I always do 😀 .. So my focus on first things first is rather different, that is to do something new every day … 😛 That’s how I reached this post, by searching for my own post.

    I’ve described “first things first” in a different way on my blog … you might like it..

    anyways, nice post this one.. goodluck with ur task management stuff

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