What’s a freelancer‘s most important moment of the day?
Maybe it’s those few minutes you spend getting your to-do list ready each morning. Or maybe it’s the moment you hit Send to turn a story in to your editor.
For me, that moment is at 6:15 a.m. when my alarm clock rings. I’ve realized through trial and error that my first conscious moment of the day is also the most influential on my daily productivity. Go figure.
Why? Because that’s the moment that I decide whether I’ll jump into the shower and get dressed immediately, or keep my PJs on as I begin the process of ushering three kids out the door to school. Believe it or not, that single decision sets the stage for my entire day ahead.
I discovered this anew recently. Usually I’m dressed and pressed — makeup on, hair flat-ironed — by the time the last kid gets on his bus at 8 a.m. Then I sit down and begin working, and this raring-to-go mindset carries me through some crazy-busy hours.
One day last week, though, I lapsed on this routine. I thought, What the heck? I’ll just work in my jammies today. Nice and comfy.
Comfy, yes, but a veritable disaster to my motivation level. I ended up scrolling through Twitter and Facebook for about two hours as if it were Saturday morning before getting down to writing. I’d planned to finish two assignments that day, but only one actually got done because I’d squandered so much time on this weekend mindset.
Can I really blame it all on the pajamas? Yes, I think I can. There’s a subtle mental shift that occurs when I go through the motions of getting dressed each morning, a shift that makes me sharper, more prepared. Clothes and makeup = productivity. Pajamas and dirty hair = slothfulness.
People like to joke that freelance writers are lucky. “You can work in your pajamas if you want to!” some of my friends say admiringly. And they’re right. We can make that choice, and for some of us it makes no difference to our output what we’re wearing. But it’s funny how much what’s on the outside can affect what’s going on inside.
For me, the clothes really do make the woman — a woman whose success apparently depends on the very first moment of the day.