I am thrilled to introduce you to Lily Calfee of Ideal Nourishment. She is a vibrant soul that has meant a lot to me and my progression of self-care. If you've ever struggled with tending to your body and mind with an open heart and gentle adjustments, well, you really need to be talking with her ASAP. For now, enjoy this lovely piece all about maintaining a schedule that supports your self-care! You're gonna love it!
Common questions that I get from entrepreneurs or “side-hustlers” are ones of self discipline: How do I stick to a schedule? I want to take a lunch break but not a two-hour lunch break… Should I work on evenings and weekends or stuck to nine to five?
I’ll let you in on a tip: when I was first figuring out how to be an entrepreneur, the best thing that I did for myself was to get my sleep schedule on lock. When I started out, it was very tempting to stay up late working (or watching movies). I’d tell myself, “Well, I'll just start work at eleven tomorrow, and work until eight PM.”
Eventually, I figured out that I actually get my best work done in the morning. It became obvious that I needed to get myself in bed early enough to wake up, do my morning routine, and start working by nine AM. I only have about three or four hours of super-focused creative time in me before I need to switch to tasks like networking or meeting with clients.
A trick I discovered was to wake up at the same time every day, no matter what time I went to bed. This was a real struggle for a while because I wanted to wake up every day at 6:30, but some nights I’d go to bed at ten and others at 11:30—and I never felt well rested when I woke up. After a week or so of getting up at the same time every day, I started to also get tired at the same time every day, and eventually my body got on a pretty standard sleep schedule of 10:30 PM to 7 AM.
The other important change I made was to create a bedtime routine. As a solo-preneur who lived alone, I would often go back to work after dinner and stare at my computer right up until the moment I was about to pass out. Obviously, this didn't make for very restful sleep.
These days, I take about forty-five minutes before I want to be asleep to make my to-do list for the next day, get into my pajamas, wash my face, and then lay in bed and read. (Actually, I very rarely read. I just open my book and stare at the same paragraph until I realize I need to turn the light off before I pass out.)
Taking taking time to unwind before I fall asleep has been such a godsend. It allows me to transition more smoothly into a restful head space, and I no longer have busy, stressful, anxious dreams. In fact, I recently had a dream about sitting on a dock and staring at the sunset with two old friends. The dream felt like it lasted for hours, but nothing ever really happened—it was just this peaceful, warm experience.
To get my sleep schedule on lock, I also needed to look at my relationship with sugar and caffeine. I am a self-identified health nut and used to say that I lived a “low-sugar lifestyle.” However, when I looked at what I was eating or drinking over the course of the day, I realized that I used sugar and caffeine to get me through the dull moments.
I actually gave up sugar entirely—cold-turkey, none, not even fruit—for about nine months, and have never slept better. I realized what an impact my blood sugar was having on my sleep, and now I'm very conscious of what I eat and drink, especially when I'm feeling sleepy. It seemed natural to feel tired at two or three in the afternoon and reach for some crunchy carbs or a little coffee or tea to get me through the last bit of the day. I realized that I was mostly looking for a distraction in those moments and if I was hungry, I was actually hungry for protein and fat, not for carbs and sugar. I started snacking on a carrot and almond butter, or a little piece of beef jerky, or a handful of walnuts. This practice not only truly satisfies my cravings, but also helps keep my blood sugar balanced.
Energy is key for anyone starting out in the freelance or entrepreneurial world. If you don't have consistent energy and focus, your plans just don't happen. If you’re struggling to stick to a schedule or get yourself up in the morning, I encourage you to look at your sleep routines and blood sugar. If you want to have an in-depth conversation about food and your energy, focus, and productivity, you can find me at idealnourishment.com