Does a good morning routine make you a better blogger?

And does it contribute to being successful?

Woman writing in her journal
Photo by Trent Szmolnik on Unsplash

I’ve just read an article written by a successful blogger interviewing other successful bloggers about their morning routine and how it contributes to their productivity during the day.

In every single one of the six interviews I read, no matter when they woke up, no matter what time of the morning, be it 5 a.m. or 9, their first task was writing. Journaling was the most popular thing, setting out goals for the day, reflecting and thinking.

Clearly none of these bloggers have children, bar one, who said she had a 5 year old. She writes before the child wakes. I have to say, in my experience of 5 year olds, she must have to get up pretty early.

I’m not criticising, I’m just astonished and slightly envious. When I was younger and, thank goodness, healthy I was married and bringing up 5 children. The mornings were absolute mayhem, getting them up, ready for school, making sure they had breakfast, games kit, packed lunches etc etc. Every mum will know the drill. Certainly no room to put a word on a page!

The only thing I got up early for was to feed the baby, or in later years, to grab a quick coffee before the chaos began!Too exhausted to write anything except note in child’s homework book or something.

Once the last one went to school, I started and ran my own business (with my friend and business partner) for the next eight years. Then, going to the gym early in the morning was more important to my wellbeing.

My husband worked long hours, I tried to fit my work into school hours, so I was able to pick the kids up. I also worked weekends.

During this time, I did keep a journal of sorts, when I had time, or remembered to write in it. When my youngest child was about 12, I started a degree course with The Open University, when obviously writing was intrinsic to the course.

My morning routine was no less chaotic, I still had four children at home, my eldest having gone to Uni by this time.

Sometimes, as the kids got older and were sleeping in a bit longer, on a Sunday morning I would get up and take coffee and the papers back to bed where my husband and I would read them and the kids wandered in and out.

Once they all grew up and one by one left home, I could finally have a morning routine that suited me. But it didn’t involve writing or journaling in any way. It just meant coffee and reading my book. I hadn’t properly read a book in years. Now was my chance!

(Just notice how often coffee pops up in this story!)

Then I got MS. I had managed to keep a journal going when my symptoms started, because I needed to get things on paper (yes paper!) for my mental health.

Since I’ve been a tetraplegic (10 years now) I have a morning routine that is not of my choosing. Now I couldn’t write in the morning even if I wanted to. My mornings are strictly controlled to be ready for carers every morning when they come at 9.30 a.m.

Twice a week community nurses come in at 10 and the carers at 11. Since I am put to bed at 6 in the evening, most days are short. I have to fit all my writing and other things like seeing my friends and family into this short day.

I suppose these very productive bloggers must have become successful so they treat it as a business. I have been learning to blog for six months now and it’s changed and enriched my life in so many ways. But my morning routine is as it is!

I just hope I’m as successful as they are one day even without the enviable morning routine!

Photo by Austen Distel on Unsplash

Can we live a ‘Freedom Lifestyle?

What even is a freedom lifestyle? I’m going to try and find the answer.

Original photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

Trawling through the Internet I saw loads of different definitions. I would say that most of them were about starting a business to achieve financial freedom. Some were about living a freedom lifestyle through travel, such as trekking or bike-riding across different countries or continents. But the core definition seemed to go something like this:

A freedom lifestyle means living a life that is self-designed. Saying yes to things you love and no to things you don’t. The freedom to choose what is going to be part of every minute of every day of the rest of your life”. (Marie Hernandez)

https://ohwhatajourney.com/freedom-lifestyle-mindset

The blog ohwhatajourney.com has a post talking about having a ‘freedom lifestyle mindset’. They use the quote above and Set out their ‘Freedom Lifestyle Plan’:

  1. Work only contract jobs – check
  2. Travel as much as possible – check
  3. Start a travel blog, build following
  4. Start an event planning business on line – check
  5. Build client list
  6. Train as a travel agent – check
  7. Get TICO certified – check
  8. Find a travel agency to work with as outside sales rep – Check

Fairly easy then! This is a plan that may take some time. But if you are in a place in your life where it resonates with you go for it.

Of course we all want a life that is self-designed, and most of us have it up to a point. We choose where we live, where we take holidays, what we do in our spare time etc. But most of us have to work to have these choices.

Everybody’s daily routines are different. For most people life is a morning commute to get to work and the same routine in the evening just to get home again. Traffic jams, a crowded bus journey, the school run. All the things that make up people’s everyday. Not much room for doing things you love unless you love doing all this stuff!

Do what you love at weekends and say no to things you don’t love? Hmmmm…. weekends can be just as busy as weekdays particularly if you have kids or even if you don’t. If you work all week then the weekends can be taken up with shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry and all that.

I sound a bit down on the whole thing. I’m not but I just wonder whether any aspect of the freedom lifestyle is doable in busy lives.

For me, as a disabled person, obviously not. If I was to say ‘no’ to the things I don’t like I’d never get out of bed! I don’t like not being able to look after myself without help (great as that help is), and I don’t like the strict routine I have but I wouldn’t be able to live without it.

I’m not complaining. Other disabled people are in the same position as me, some with many more problems than I have. Able-bodied people have lots of things in their daily lives that they don’t like.

Back in the day my husband loved his weekends, he was a hockey Dad, taking one of our daughters to field hockey every Saturday. That was something he loved. That was his day of freedom. Sunday mornings he would read the papers. That was it for him, Sunday afternoon he would work at home preparing for Monday (he is a retired lawyer).

My freedom at weekends was Sunday afternoon reading, something I love.

Now we are both retired. We should have lots of time. We wanted to travel, for us that was the ultimate freedom lifestyle. But – bang! I developed MS and it was not possible.

We do things that we love. I love writing, he loves doing crosswords. We take a trip to France once a year. He cooks nice things and I eat them!

What exactly is a Freedom Lifestyle?

I’m going to see if I can somehow get to the root of it, and see how practical it is.

One blogger (George Maszaros successharbor.com) suggested ditching the:

  • job you hate
  • boss you dislike
  • commute you hate
  • things you don’t need (de-cluttering)
  • addiction to being busy
  • relationships that are negative In your life

Not an option for most people I would imagine! Most of the research I did on the Internet focused on starting your own business to gain the financial freedom to live however you want, using words like ‘laptop lifestyle’ or ‘digital nomad lifestyle’ or ‘living your dream life’ One blog I read defines a freedom lifestyle as this:

1. an intentional and adventurous way of life. 2. the ability to do what you want, when you want, how you want. 3. a lifelong commitment to crafting and sharing your unique genius (yes, you’re a genius).

http://www.armanassadi.com/introduction-to-freedom-lifestyle

This blogger had just left a job with Google in Silicon Valley, so was clearly in a position to be able to start up his own business. He then goes on to describe how he travels the world because he can take his business with him. A digital nomad!

I even read an article in which the author suggested that perhaps, to gain the financial means to live your freedom lifestyle, you should start a business on the side in addition to your day job! (medium.com/rasheedhooda)

Not practical for most of us. Just keep buying your lottery ticket!

A Freedom Lifestyle for disabled people?

When it came to researching what a freedom lifestyle means for disabled people this focused on independent living. I soon realised that this is a completely different thing.

One disabled person said this:

It is the ability to live independently and productively in the community and to live with the same freedom of choice as a non-disabled person. So it’s not that you are living on your own but that you control where you live and have the same range of choices as a non-disabled person.

Jill Weiss

So, if my idea of freedom living is to sit alone in a cave on a Tibetan mountain meditating then it’s a no-go. Right?

Photo by Yomo Owo on Unsplash

I have to admit that it’s a good definition of how disabled people would want to live. There are many younger people who go travelling with their wheelchair and a carer, living the best freedom lifestyle they can.

So, is a ‘Freedom Lifestylepossible?

I’ve only looked at a tiny bit of what’s out there on the web and in blogs about this idea. To ‘self-design’ our own lives depends on so many things, our circumstances and commitments, money, kids, elderly parents to take care of, whatever.

For most people the ability to have a life of freedom from pressures of time, money, work would be a dream, for some people that dream can become a reality. But it surely, unless you are already financially secure, it takes a leap in the dark with no idea where you’ll land and that is truly scary. Not a risk that anybody would take lightly.

The best that most of us can do is live the best life we can through creating a balanced life of work and leisure and make it count. Self-designing our life in whatever way suits us, and creating choices for ourselves whenever we can.

I refuse to use the term ‘work-life balance’ – it’s been worn out. Maybe a ‘freedom lifestyle’ is better!

Photo by Collins Lasulie on Unsplash

How it feels to live with chronic illness

Six things I learned that may help

“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life”. –

Seneca – Letters from a Stoic

These are wise words indeed, especially if you are living with a chronic illness or are a disabled person, when everyday can bring different symptoms, different feelings and obstacles. Not so easy though is it?

Photo by Dimitri Schemelev on Unsplash

Yesterday, I gave in. For two days I had been feeling awful, deep down I knew why, but, as usual, I kept going.

For two weeks before Christmas I was busy as we all are. Being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean I get away with not planning and buying presents and food like everybody else. Plus, my mother turned 90 in December and my daughters and I organised a family party for her.

I do find social occasions a bit exhausting even if it’s just family. I had to be in my manual chair because the house has steps up to the front door! This means I usually get put in a convenient corner out of the way of everyone milling, but of course I can’t do any milling of my own!

Because of all the festivities, I didn’t do any writing for two weeks. I took the time to read about improving my writing. That was exhausting because I had to concentrate!

After New Year I managed to get out two or three pieces but then – nothing. I dried up and I could not motivate myself.

I found myself reading articles about optimising my blog, as I had convinced myself that that was my goal for 2020.

I can’t believe some of the things I have read these last few weeks, getting deeper in to marketing strategies that in no way do I want to follow, and am in no way ready for. Don’t get me wrong, the material was very well written by people who know what they are talking about, but the jargon being used was beyond me!

So I stressed about never being able to get people to read my blog or my articles if I didn’t master the jargon. Result: increasing anxiety, till my head hurt and my stomach was churning.

I’m now two weeks into a very unproductive January, and I found myself feeling out of sorts, not being able to eat much with aches and pains. I was suffering extreme anxiety.

What I hadn’t learned

I couldn’t believe that I had fallen for this old MS trick again, when it’s been happening for years. I hadn’t learned that when you live with a chronic illness it’s important to do what you know is right.

All I needed was to take a day in bed to just watch a bit of tv, listen to some music and sleep. So that’s what I did. I was warm comfortable and relaxed.

It’s amazing that just taking one day completely away from e mails, social media etc can make such a difference. What I can’t get my head around is why I didn’t recognise what was happening and allowed myself to get into such a dark place

Today – new person. Like Phoenix rising from the ashes I’m ready to take on the world! Well, not really but I got up this morning desperate to write.

Here are the things I’ve learned from this:

  1. Always listen to what your body is telling you. Whatever type of disability you have your body can always tell you something.
  2. Don’t push yourself beyond your physical and/or mental capabilities.
  3. Learn what your main limitations are, and own them. They are yours and yours alone. That way it’s easier to avoid pushing yourself too far.
  4. If you do beyond the limit take time to recover. Take a walk if you are able to, stay in bed for as long as you need, do what you want.
  5. Don’t think it’s your fault if you have to step away from things for a while. No one knows your condition like you do – do what you have to do.
  6. Self care is the single most important thing you can give yourself when you are a disabled person.

I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to learn this. I think it’s because I felt I was giving in, I wanted to fight my MS, not let it beat me and so on.

If you are, perhaps, newly diagnosed you may feel some or all of these things too. These six tips can help you realise that having a chronic illness isn’t going to stop you doing things, but may help you learn from what your body is telling you to make sure you are living your best life.

Tomorrow is another day!

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash