Non-Negotiables: Things You Should Do Every Day

Non-Negotiables: Things You Should Do Every Day
Carly Jacobs

‘Oh I’ll have one of those eggplant things, some of that spicy tofu and I’ll try the soy beef! Thank you!’.

The waiter turned to me and I said ‘I’ll have the dumpling soup.’

My friend laughed at me and said ‘You really are a creature of habit aren’t you? You’ve ordered the dumpling soup the last three times we’ve come here!’ 

We were at Neko Neko which is my favourite Japanese restaurant. It was a thirty-second walk from my old apartment so I ate there a lot. The first time I went there ordered the dumpling soup because that’s what my friend ordered and I don’t really like making food decisions so I just copied whatever she said. The soup was delicious so I just kept ordering it every time I went back.

I do this nearly everywhere. I get the Power Salad at Grill’d. Mild chicken and salad at Nandos. Prawns at Pepper Lunch. I don’t really do it consciously, it’s just once I know the healthiest most satisfying thing on a menu, I just keep ordering it because it’s easy and I don’t have to use my brain.

It’s the same with my life in general. After years of self-experimenting with routines, eating plans, exercise regimes, workflows and more apps than I can fit on my phone, I have a very solid outline of things that need to be done every day in order for me to function effectively. This list started out as a proper list where I actually ticked items off but I’ve been doing it for so long now, I don’t even have to worry about it. It just happens. Here are my daily non-negotiables.

every day

1.Exercise 

I don’t have to go to the gym every day and sweat myself silly, but I need to close the green exercise ring on my Apple Watch every day. I sleep better, my mood is more consistent, my body feels better. I used to have to force myself to move every day but it’s just become a habit for me now. I also notice in winter if I skip my morning gym class, I’m colder during the day and I have to wear more clothes and make love to the heater to stop from freezing solid so there’s that. If I don’t want to be cold to the point of distraction all day, best be a grown up, get the hell out of bed and raise my body temperature for the day.

2. Sitting fully dressed at my desk by 9am

I work for myself so I have to be very disciplined about this. It means I can’t get home from the gym and sit in the car for 20 minutes dicking around on my phone because before I know it, it’s 9am and I haven’t even had a shower. I’m the sharpest first thing in the morning so I need to prioritise getting to my desk by 9am so I can work solidly from 9 to midday.

3. Leave the house 

I work from home and obviously, I also live in my home so I have to make the effort to leave every day otherwise I’m like a caged rat. I generally leave most mornings to go to the gym but that doesn’t really count, so I try to go for a walk or drive somewhere where I can go for a walk. It just clears my head and makes me feel less claustrophobic. This one has been difficult to adjust to as I moved from a gorgeous, scenic area where I could walk all day and not ever get bored to a suburb that’s quite barren, void of trees and not very pretty which makes walking really hard so I have to make the effort to drive to a more scenic area for a walk most evenings.

every day

4. Schedule my day the night before 

I started doing this years ago and I don’t know how I functioned without it. I use Actions app to schedule my day and tick items off as I complete them. This works for a variety of reasons.

1. I pre-determine how long a task will take so I don’t waste time dragging out a task or making it take longer than it should be.

2. I always know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. As writer/freelancer, my to list is already longer than my lifespan which is an unbelievably over-whelming thought. If I pinpoint exactly what my priorities are that day, it saves me from wandering off and doing other things that aren’t as important.

3. It’s pretty. I like having my day all nicely laid out. It calms me.

5. Have a proper screen free lunch break 

I make my lunch, eat it and then listen to a podcast and crochet for half an hour. It clears my head, gives my eyes a break from screens and also helps me to avoid that afternoon slump I get if I go too hard during the day. Read a book, do a crossword puzzle, read the paper, knit, crochet… just put your phone down and don’t look at a screen for half an hour in the middle of the day. Your body will totally thank you for it.

every day

6. Laptop and phone away at 9pm every night 

As an internet type person, I’m generally on the internet most of the time. I certainly block myself out for hours at a time but I manage lots of different communities and accounts so I need to be there quite regularly. I used to be on Facebook answering questions and chatting away until midnight but a few years ago I stopped this. I need a big chunk of offline time every day to re-charge so I turn my phone off at 9pm almost every night. If I have an event or need to be online after 9, I will make an exception but generally speaking, the phone is off at 9pm every night because if anyone needs me, they can wait until the morning.

7. Drink at least three cups of tea

I have a morning, afternoon and after dinner cup of tea every day. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, I’ll make it happen. If I have a meeting and I’m offered coffee, I’ll go for tea. It’s just a thing I need.

This week on Straight and Curly, Kelly and I are chatting about our non-negotiables and how they keep us on track. We also talk through how you can find your own and use them to totally nail your productivity.

What about you? What are your non-negotiables?

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15 Comments

  1. Reannon 3 weeks ago

    For someone who is not a tea drinker can you recommend some teas for me to try? I’m trying very hard to find something to replace my sweet treat habit & thought tea could be it? Plus, I’m almost 40, it’s about time I started drinking a grown up tea!

    • Cindy 3 weeks ago

      For a tea newbie, you might like to start with a milder flavour, like Darjeeling. The breakfast teas are much stronger, and I tend to avoid them these days. Follow the instructions on the pack or look up how to make good tea on the internet. Don’t go for teabags. They may be easy and convenient, but have none of the flavour of loose leaf tea. I only buy organic now, and the difference is amazing – there are some lovely organic teas.
      If you like the aroma of bergamot, Earl Grey is a lovely tea. I drink an organic one I buy online, and I drink it black and unsweetened. You get the added benefits of the essential oils as well as the tea.
      Before bed, chamomile tea makes a soothing hot drink – unsweetened is best. Enjoy…

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 weeks ago

      There’s a Dilmah Ceylon loose leaf tea I get from the supermarket which is our standby. I also love African Rooibos or red tea from T2 – it’s caffiene free and I have it before bed. Try plenty of milk and teaspoon of sugar to get you started! English Breakfast is a good beginners tea too!

  2. Cindy 3 weeks ago

    These are some really great tips, Carly. I haven’t really thought about mine, but I’m going to put them down on paper now. I bought a rebounder a couple of years ago because I wasn’t able to do other exercise and I read the bouncing was good for people with Myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.). Before I’d saved up for a good one, I started bouncing lightly on the bed, which cleared my head. Using the rebounder daily I feel much better – if I miss it just once, I feel like I’ve got cobwebs in my head. It’s helped me move on to doing some other exercises at home, like ballet and (very) light weights. So that’s my main non-negotiable.

    Tea is something I really love too, and sometimes I really crave it. I only buy organic now, and have several varieties of organic tea in jars in the refrigerator to keep them at peak freshness. I also have a couple of beautiful two-cup teapots and nice china (cups and saucers) so I make a bit of a thing of having my tea each day, like people used to.

    Not being on the laptop after 9pm is exactly what I need to do. I’ve deactivated my Facebook account for the month of May, and hopefully beyond, because I was spending way too much time doing absolutely nothing… So now I’m reading healing books instead. I read that the blue light from the internet, etc, makes it difficult to get to sleep, so it’s good to turn everything off well before bedtime.

    I’m off to make a pot of tea… Thanks for all the great ideas.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 weeks ago

      How are you coping without Facebook? I’d love to go off Facebook but I have to be there for work. If my job wasn’t the internet, I wouldn’t be on it! I’m pretty good at blocking myself out of for most of the day so that’s good.

  3. Jane Gundogan 3 weeks ago

    I always close my laptop and phone at 8.30 but I go even further, I turn off the wi-fi as well. I guess all those people talking about electromagnetic radiation and its dangers finally rubbed off on me. I also work from home but I live in a beautiful area so getting out and about is no hardship. I walk every day (treadmill if the weather is dreadful) plus my dog needs his morning and afternoon constitutional. I will read for at least half an hour before I switch off my light and it is usually a re-affirmation or self-help book. I think it makes for better dreams.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 weeks ago

      I’ve been reading for half an hour every night too but I’m sleeping so well at the moment I can barely keep my eyes open and I just nod off. It’s magic. I just read on my Kindle with the lights off and it makes me so sleepy.

      • Jane Gundogan 3 weeks ago

        You are so lucky. I never sleep. Well no that’s not entirely true. I pass out pretty easily but wake early hours thanks to my nemesis the rooster. Once he starts the neighbourhood dogs start, then my dog starts and its all over. And yet husband and daughter sleep straight through. Ugh!

  4. Michaela 3 weeks ago

    One of my non-negotiables is that I need to be in bed by midnight every night. Any later than that and I’m a really crabby zombie the next morning. I need at least two cups of coffee in the morning to really get going and I absolutely refuse to eat before noon, or else I get sick.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 weeks ago

      Yes! Me too! I’ve been going to bed slightly earlier because of the cold but any later than midnight and I’m screwed. I stayed up too late at the beginning of the week for the F45 and I haven’t been right all week!

  5. Carole 3 weeks ago

    My non-negotiables are – Kitchen and bathroom cleaned before I’m allowed to go to bed. Makes getting up in the morning a lot more positive!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 weeks ago

      Oh yes! They’re Mr Smaggle’s non-negotiables… I’m usually in bed when he’s doing that! 🙂

  6. Bec 3 weeks ago

    Gosh I’m feeling very undisciplined having read this and all the comments! I generally wing everything and bounce along through the week doing my best haha. Whenever I try a routine something inevitably throws it out.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 3 weeks ago

      Sometimes that just works for people! Also sometimes I’m super disciplined and other times I’m not as hardcore. It’s not an exact science.

  7. Angela 2 days ago

    Thanks for suggesting the screen-free lunch break. I really needed that! Its nice to have time to reflect. By the way, we have four hotels in Manhattan. Be sure to stop by one day when you get the chance ?

    Angela
    http://www.thepaulnyc.com

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