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Get it done early

Class ends and it’s 4:30. I just had a long day and the last thing I want to do is work out. I’m tired, there’s homework I have to do and I want to stop by my friends’ room and shoot the breeze. So then I think to myself: I only need to workout four days this week and I’m tired. Why not do it when I’m refreshed tomorrow? Well here’s the problem. I’m almost never feeling refreshed on a weekday and certainly not motivated on a weekend. And if we’re being honest, most of us feel very unrefreshed to say the least for most of our weekend. Now the vicious cycle begins. I lose consistency and things start to break down. Four days a week turns to three. Soon, three turns into three weeks off, and apples turn to apple crisps. Now I’m playing catch up to get back into shape. This struggle besets everyone and is very difficult to overcome. Over the years, I have tried a million methods to combat this when it comes to working out, getting homework done early or any other task I don’t want to complete in the moment. Alerts on my phone, motivational videos, written-out schedules. While some worked better than others, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon my favorite solution this summer thanks to the time constraints of my job.

The long hours of my internship this summer gave me one option to stay in shape: get a workout in before work. This meant I had to wake up earlier and build up the energy and motivation to exercise. At the beginning, I figured this would be a huge problem since I commonly struggle to get up for a 10:30 a.m. class ten minutes from my dorm. However, I soon discovered the freedom that early morning work grants an individual. Each day, my friend and I would trudge out of our apartment in the morning, exercise, then start a grueling workday. On paper, this sounds horrible. Waking up early for exercise after a 14-hour workday sounds like the last thing I would want to do. However, I soon discovered that these “grueling” workdays were made much easier by a morning workout. Whether it’s exercising, homework, or working on any other personal goal, now that you have accomplished a very crucial task in the morning, you will feel more relaxed the rest of the day. You’re not playing catch up. Instead, you can feel the relief of knowing you got your work done and have a sense of accomplishment throughout the rest of the day. This allows you to feel more cheerful and present in the moment because you’re not caught up thinking about the painful task you don’t want to do but know you have to later.

In addition to feeling more relaxed, a huge advantage of waking up before the rest of the world is no one can distract you. No text messages are sent and no spontaneous plans can be made. It’s you and you alone with the opportunity to get your work done as efficiently as possible. Your intentions are clear because there is nothing else to do early in the morning. Essentially, if you’re awake, you might as well be productive with such limited options to procrastinate. On campus, this is especially relevant because most buildings are closed early in the morning besides the productive ones: the library and the gym.

Now that I am returning to school, I am going to try my best to stick to getting up early and getting my work done. While it may be tougher with late nights and a looser schedule, forcing yourself out of bed in the morning will make the rest of your day significantly better. So if you struggle with pushing things off and find it affects your day-to-day life, try getting something important done before your first class. It’s not a crazy change or new idea by any means, but it can make your life less stressful and give you greater control over your daily actions. Put it this way. The longer you wait to do something, the more opportunities you’ll have to push it off. So try a couple early mornings and see where it takes you.

Mikey Colgan is a sophomore from Boston majoring in Finance and ACMS. He can be reached at mcolgan2@nd.edu. The views expressed in this column are those of the author, not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Yes to more intentional living

This past summer, I had the chance to live in Washington, D.C. as I completed my internship. And while there is so much to learn from living alone in a big city in your twenties, one lesson that really stuck with me was undertaking living with more intention. This lifestyle entails practicing deliberate intention every day; it starts with a calculated, conscious choice to pursue a specific course of action or direction.

As my junior year spring semester came to an end, I was left completely exhausted. It felt like I was stuck on autopilot with a predictable routine. I wasn’t making progress toward my goals and it felt like I was missing something. I said yes to too many commitments and was left procrastinating heavily to avoid dealing with all of it. Does this feel familiar to you? If so, then it’s probably time to live with more intention; it is time to step out of mindless activities and ensure your life is based on your own conscious choice of how you want your life to be. 

Ironically, living with more intention happened to me unintentionally. Having to balance a 40-hour work week with online classes and the desire to explore the city meant I not only had to closely plan my days, but also had to prioritize. I had to sit down and decide what mattered to me most and how I wanted to split my time. I had to identify normal behaviors and patterns that just seemed to suck time out from under me and redirect my efforts toward other activities. For instance, I started completely turning my phone off after 9 p.m. (unless I was out, of course). Since I couldn’t sit there and just scroll for hours at a time, I had to find fulfilling activities. I started working out more often, going on long evening walks, organizing other areas of my life like my finances and I even read six books in under a month. 

Moreover, living alone in a new city meant I had to be intentional about relationships and meeting new people. I had to schedule times to FaceTime with friends and family back home. I also had to be more proactive in going out and meeting new people or connecting with coworkers over happy hour. I tried to be more present and truly enjoy the times when I was surrounded by exciting new people. 

A third big part of living with intention is learning to say no. If a commitment does not align itself with what you value or does not bring you any closer to the person you hope to be, do not be afraid to say no. Some days it feels like I have to stay open and keep saying yes to everything: yes to starting a new research project, yes to leading a club, yes to volunteering for dorm events, yes to going out every single night, yes, yes, yes … and quite frankly, it can be overwhelming. Living with intention means you will recognize how precious your time is, savor the moments of free time you have and decline participating in activities that do not add value to your life. Keep in mind that added value comes in all shapes and forms: happiness, more free time, longer breaks, etc. Value is not only centered around more money or more prestigious status. 

All this is to say that you start settling into a routine for the semester and feel overwhelmed by all the commitments and tasks you have to complete, so take some time to identify your goals for the semester and highlight what matters to you most. Let these goals and values become a compass for more intentional deliberate living. How else do you think you could tune in to yourself? 

Krista Lourdes Akiki is a senior majoring in business analytics and minoring in computing and digital technologies. She grew up in Beirut, Lebanon and moved back to the U.S. to pursue her undergraduate degree. She loves learning new languages, traveling and of course trying new foods. She craves adventure and new experiences and hopes to share these with readers through her writing. She can be reached at kakiki@nd.edu or @kristalourdesakiki via Twitter.

The views expressed in the column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Krista Lourdes Akiki

Contact Krista at kakiki@nd.edu