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Ready for the most eye-rolling adage ever?

Sunlight before screen light.

I know. I know. Get off your phone, touch grass, look up at those stars you keep forgetting exist. But it's one of the snippets from Rick Rubin's The Creative Act that's stuck with me months after reading it.

Sometimes I need to be hit in the head with things that are obviously good for me. Read things that make me happy. Choose real food, take walks, stop by the gym. Spend time with friends, on hobbies, outside, etc. Such a case here: it was standard for me to shut off the alarm and immediately start scrolling.

Oh, it wasn't TikTok or Instagram. Surely checking the news, Slack, email, that's not addiction. (Pro tip: Anytime you need to convince yourself it's not addiction, it's addiction.) I caught myself opening LinkedIn on autopilot the other day. LinkedIn. I woke up to a lovely thunderstorm and I reached for my phone to check the weather app. Instead of, you know, enjoying it like a normal person.

These kinds of habits put me in the mindset of productivity and work and missed texts the moment I woke up. And that kind of sucked.

Now my morning routine includes taking a few minutes to look at the sky. Seriously. I mean, it's Poland, the sun doesn't exactly have perfect attendance. But sitting on the balcony with a french-pressed coffee is better than reading the latest collective worry on Twitter or immediately stressing about upcoming meetings.

I got rid of the UX/eComm/productivity/tech sites on my RSS feed and replaced them with feeds from my favorite authors. I bought a Clarkesworld subscription so I can digest a short story or two each morning. I write for at least an hour a day, things that I actually want to write, and I don't worry about answering phone calls and texts right away; I don't need to be, and shouldn't be, available 24/7. I get up a bit earlier to walk to the local bakery with my husband before the day starts. We spent last evening on a hiking trail, and all I could think while looking at the leaves was why was I so stressed out about the hierarchy of that one screen?

It doesn't mean I shouldn't care; it means I shouldn't care after 6o'clock. I actually think small changes like this improve productivity, but that's not the (insert favorite expletive) point. Working remotely blurs the boundaries of personal and professional life, makes it seem like they're one and the same. But there's so much in the little moments that make up our day, that it's worth starting with a nod outdoors.


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