Change is a thing. The way my brain works, I actually react to change in a fairly positive way. Add to that my lived experience in my personal life and in my day job career, and even in my writing career, I’ve become rather accustomed to change. And in the transition phase between the way things were before and the way things are evolving moving forward, I have 3 facets of my day-to-day I evaluate to live my best life.

How, not when, I start my day

Before anyone asks me whether I’m a morning person or a night owl, let’s establish one thing: I’m a wanderer.

Whether I’m traveling, and therefore in a drastically different time zone then what I consider my home city or I’m working on a global project team and meeting with cross functional groups in various time zones, I don’t have a daily routine with a regular wake up time and bedtime. The combination of my personal life, day job commitments, and writing career collaborations may require me to have meetings across a broad range of time zones on any given day. Heck, sometimes I’m in Thailand or another country and working remotely on East Coast or Pacific time, resting on a biphasic sleep schedule.

So it’s not about what time I wake up and start my day, so much as how I get ready to live the day I have ahead of me no matter what time it starts. This is what I need to evaluate to live my best life …for the near future. Things could change again.

In the past, as soon as my alarm went off I would get up and head into the bathroom to see to personal needs and take a shower, get dressed, and even do my hair. Sometimes makeup would happen, depending on my mood and how I wanted to present myself to the day.

In recent years, my alarm would go off and I would roll out of bed to pull on and oversized sweatshirt or sweater, tie my hair back, find my glasses, and power up my computer to immediately jump into a video conference.

These days I don’t have the energy and don’t see value in going through all the effort of showering, dressing, and doing hair (and possibly makeup) — but rolling out of bed and directly into working puts me into a grumpy mindset for the whole day.

I want to start my day differently. In this transition time when my day job career is changing significantly, I think I’d like to try setting my alarm to wake me up about an hour before I need to interact with anybody so I can see to my personal needs and then maybe get back in bed with a cup of tea and have a pleasant 30 mins for my own personal thoughts before I start working for the day.

How I manage my day

In the past, I have been amazing at task management and productivity. In my day job career, I’m still an excellent global program manager and project manager. Then I hit burnout a few years ago. No I’ve had multiple medical challenges throughout my life, a new complication hit a few years ago that required absolute bed rest. The intentionally slow, gradual recovery through the following years has been good.

But I’ve been progressively taking on more and more activities, making more commitments, and increasing my workload. I need to find ways to manage what I need to get done in a given day, to reduce the stress of worrying about dropping a ball or forgetting something.

I used to love paper planners, but my spine issues and the related nerve complications in my hands mean that I can’t maintain a daily planner consistently. On any given day, I’m not even sure I can hold a pen. For the same reason, I can’t leave myself a cloud of sticky notes to manage my to do tasks either.

I really enjoy trying new software apps and there are a lot of task management and productivity apps out there. So in this facet of daily living, it seems what I need to evaluate to live my best life is productivity software.

Habitica is one of my favorite apps to gamify daily to dos and habits. I actually like using it for personal things like remembering to hydrate and remembering to take my meds. But it is not complex enough to track multiple projects across my day job and writing careers. So Habitica can be a part of my day to day tools, but it isn’t the full solution.

I’ve tried Notion, because a lot of my colleagues who love paper planners also love the customizable aspect of notion. But there’s something about the application user interface that just isn’t for me. I love Trello, mostly because it’s very easy to create cards and manage tasks in a Kanban style workflow. It really works well when I’m evaluating my long term goals and defining them for myself. But like Habitica, it doesn’t work for me when it comes to tracking multiple projects across my day job and writing careers and having a dashboard I can view at the beginning of my day to assess a sort of daily to do list of tasks across the varying work streams in my life

I’ve tried ClickUp and it has the functionality I need, but it’s almost too fussy to set up and I found myself not particularly interested in checking in each day. I’m going to try a Asana this month, and hopefully it will support me the way I need to successfully navigate the upcoming transition in my day job.

How I maintain my boundaries

In the past I really didn’t maintain boundaries at all. From a day job perspective, I was very driven by the corporate attitude of going above and beyond, exceeding expectations continually, and proving I was an asset to my company by overachieving. I have no regrets. I was really good at what I did and I accomplished awesome things. And I’m done with that.

In my personal life, I was a people pleaser. I was trying so hard to be a good friend, a good person. Even when others didn’t have or didn’t choose to invest the same energy into the relationship that I was. The only thing I can control was what I did, so I continually took all the accountability and I was convinced if I just tried harder and did more for the relationship then I’d have the peace of mind of knowing I was a good friend. I don’t have that energy anymore and moving forward, in order to have the energy I need to be healthy, I need to be more cognizant and intentional about nurturing the relationships in which people invest their energy in our mutual relationship along with me.

And so in this transition time I’ve been thinking about the guidelines and parameters I will use to prioritize and decide when I need to say no. That could be saying no to myself and my urges to try harder every bit as much as saying no to the invitations or demands coming to me from the people around me.

Piper, that’s all awesome but when will your next book be ready?

All this introspection may seem to have nothing to do with my storytelling. On the contrary, if I don’t take time to evaluate to live my best life, I won’t have the wherewithal to write.

These three facets influence how I go about my day and have the time, the energy, and the creativity to write.  It’s one of the key things that makes me happy. And to me, a sign of living my best life, is thinking back on my day just before I fall asleep and feeling happy.

While I’m doing all of this behind the scenes work on myself to evaluate to live my best life, readers can enjoy my recently released queer science fiction romance, An Idol with Luv. And fantasy romance  fans of my Mythwoven series, can look forward to the release of Fangs So Bright & Deadly this coming September.

An Idol with Luv by Piper J. Drake