5 Things Everyone Should Do Before Lunch

Start with getting enough sleep and go from there.

Photo by Sanah Suvarna on Unsplash

I quit my day job in June of 2016. My dreams have come true. I get to be a full-time writer-slash-entrepreneur.

In case you have any doubt, that’s freaking fantastic.

It’s also kind of scary. I don’t have anything outside myself structuring my time. No one watching the clock. No one upset if I don’t show up in the morning. Sure, I have a boss. The boss is me.

The boss has a tendency to agree that mid-morning naps are a good thing, even when there is shit that needs to be done.

So, the boss’s boss (still me) came up with a system to make sure that I stay on track in this whole working-writer brand new world.

I do these five things, every day, before lunch.

I think they’ll work for you, too.

Get Enough Sleep.

So this happens way before lunch. It starts the night before. (Obviously.)

I cannot overstate how important getting enough sleep is. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself. For me, I feel the difference when I start to get a solid eight hours of sleep every day. Too many six hour days and I start to run into problems.

The biggest problem for me is that if I get less than eight hours of sleep for enough days in a row, my brain starts to shut down by 3 p.m. Especially the creative part.

I’m not going to tell you how much sleep you need. You know that already. Do what you need to do to make sure you’re getting it.

Make a list.

Once you’re awake, make a list. There are lots of ways to do this. Use Evernote. Or Trello. Go old-school and use a notebook. Or a dry erase board. Whatever works for you.

I like analog, so I keep my daily lists in a day-at-a-glance planner. Every morning, just make a list of the things you need to do that day. Think about your goals and add the very next step you can take on each of them. It’s okay if you don’t get to every single item on your list. Just writing it all down keeps you honest.

Now pick a few of the items off your list and figure out how you’re going to get them done before lunch. I usually choose five. I write them on sticky notes and stick them on my 5 Before Lunch doohickey. Yes, that’s a technical term.

If you want your own doohickey, click here and I’ll send you one STAT.

Get your story fix.

I don’t care how you do it. Listen to a podcast on your way to work. Keep a paperback in the bathroom. Go to a matinee. Catch up on your DVR. Talk to the barista who makes your vanilla latte.

Sometime before lunch, take in a story. Open yourself to it. Lose yourself in it. Even if it’s ten minutes, give yourself over to really immersing yourself in a story sometime before lunch.

Some people take smoke breaks. You take a story break.

I understand that telling you to watch a movie or some television before lunch isn’t exactly traditional productivity advice. You probably don’t to make those your go to.

Sometimes that kind of indulgence is just what you need.

I promise — getting your story fix will ignite your imagination and creativity. Open those floodgates, and anything is possible.

Do at least one brave thing.

Remember the list? Make sure that you’re not making yourself so busy with things that aren’t related to your biggest, hairiest, scariest goal that you’re just letting that one slide by.

Don’t be the person who is going to do something great — tomorrow.

It can be so easy to not do the scary thing. I’m talking about your true-north thing. The thing that you know is important by virtue of how terrifying it is.

For a few minutes, ignore the voice that says: of course you can’t do that right now. Not when you have so much else going on.

Do one thing about that goal before lunch. Everyday. See what happens.

Get a head start on dinner.

Want to reduce the stress in your life? Get rid of the stress that comes with standing in you kitchen, surrounded by hungry natives (or just a hungry you), with no clue what you’re going to feed them.

Decide what you’re going to have for dinner tonight, before lunch. It’s okay if the answer is Del Taco or a pizza. Sometimes, it just is. I get it. But make it a choice, not a desperate act of self-preservation.

You’ll have fewer 59-cent tacos in your life if you think about dinner before lunch everyday. Because you can get a head start. Chop some veggies, maybe. Throw something in the slow cooker.

I do this meal planning thing. It works. Like, really, really works.

Think about it. If you save ten minutes a day and you use them to write one page of your book — you’ll have your first draft done in a year. Do that a few more times, and you’re a novelist.

All because you thought about dinner before lunch. Powerful stuff.

Here’s my secret weapon for sticking with whatever your thing is.

Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She is an out-of-place Nevadan living in Northwestern PA with her husband, three superstar kids, two dementia patients, a good friend, Alfred the cat, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes and is the original Ninja Writer.