Give yourself the first hour of your day

Today, I recommitted to writing for the first hour of my day BEFORE checking email. I’ve made this commitment before but I’d gotten so out of whack in past months that I turned into someone who checked email while I was just out of bed. It was as though I was expecting a limited time offer of a million dollars and I wanted to be the first person to email back.

I felt ashamed that even I had succumbed to FOMO. I didn’t think that would ever happen to me.

It didn’t matter that I never missed anything, except eventually my calm center and next to come, my sanity.

Today, resisting email first thing, was hard. Jumping out of bed and double-tapping the gmail app had become a habit. Hard to break.

This morning, I only had time to write for 15 minutes at home so when I arrived at my office I still owed my writing another 45 minutes.

I wanted to check email.

I lit a candle instead.

My fingers itched to turn on my computer.

I sat next to the candle instead.

That felt a little better.

Every moment I didn’t succumb, I felt a little freer.

Interspersed with these moments of freedom, I needed to check my email to hear from a literary agent, to get an answer to a question I had asked someone yesterday. But the more I resisted, the more my craving for email subsided until the craving stopped. Not giving in, made it diminish, which I never imagined it would. In the moment, it felt like giving into the craving would solve some problem or put an end to something that needed closure. It’s the opposite. Resisting puts an end to it.

I also noticed that the urgency I had felt about an answer to a question faded too. There was no burning building, no life or death, no ambulance. It could all wait.

This is the way back to my writer self and toward my own hand sailing across the page. I had time to watch a black, speckled bird on the treetop outside my window, I wandered over to my writing drawer and sifted through some abandoned projects and found two short essays, I still like. The writer me was back.

Are you spending the first part of your day on what matters most? Are you making it creative and enjoyable? Or are you sounding like a drill sergeant? How do you resist the siren call of email? 

Paul Gauguin’s Armchair, by Vincent van Gogh, completed in 1888 in Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône, France, oil on canvas, 90.5 x 72.5 cm, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.