The Productivity Experiment: 5 Days of Getting Shit Done
If you know me at all, you know how much I love curling up on the couch after work with a glass (or a bottle) of wine — and basically not moving until I go to bed. While I can think of few things that might be more relaxing, I’ll admit that this routine isn’t very conducive to actually getting shit done.
Enter Terra, our resident organizational/productive/workout/meal-prep freak, who physically cannot fathom an evening of simply doing nothing just because. Instead, she’s literally always on the go (which exhausts me just thinking about it). Though we work for the same company and have a lot of other things in common, Terra and I realized after talking about our schedules one day just how different our after-work lifestyles were. So naturally, we decided it would be fun to perform a little experiment that involved me basically living her life for one week.
My normal schedule consists of rolling out of bed at about 6:30 or 7 a.m., going to work, coming home at 5 p.m., relaxing, and doing it all over again the next morning — I don’t work out and I usually just completely wing it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day (which usually results in eating out or ordering in). Basically, my life is a mess. Though most of my (limited) free time is spent doing a whole lot of nothing, I still feel stressed about 99% of the time and I never feel like I have the time to do some of the things that I really want to.
Terra’s schedule, on the other hand, includes waking up at 5 a.m. (yikes), drinking coffee/journaling/filling out her planner until 5:30 a.m., working out from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. (double yikes), getting ready, going to work, coming home at 5 p.m. and changing into tennis shoes, spending the next three hours checking things off of her to-do list (run errands, clean, laundry, etc.) and preparing for the next day (pack lunch/snacks, make coffee, etc.), then finally spending one single hour (or less) unwinding and relaxing before going to bed at 9 p.m. She also meal preps every single week and eats much healthier than I ever thought possible.
So, in an attempt to understand how and why Terra is the human equivalent of the Energizer Bunny, I decided to abandon my normal routine in exchange for her crazy schedule for a week — also to see if there were any advantages to avoiding down time like the plague. Here’s what happened.
5:30 a.m.: Waking up was pretty hard today because I didn’t go to sleep until pretty late last night. However, once I dragged myself out of bed, I actually kind of enjoyed it. Spending 30 minutes on the couch with my coffee, just taking my time waking up, was surprisingly refreshing. I also got my entire day planned out before it even started, which literally never happens, so that was nice.
6:30 a.m.: Terra met me at the gym to show me how to work out (because I literally would have no clue where to start on my own). Even though she made me do legs on my first day, the workout wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be, but my legs definitely feel like jelly afterward.
7:30 a.m.: Terra told me to make sure to eat some protein 30 minutes after my workout and now I see why! After I got out of the shower I started to shake like a leaf, but I couldn’t find any damn food in my entire apartment — I hadn’t gone grocery shopping for the week yet. I eventually dug out a lone packet of tasteless oatmeal buried in the depths of the empty cabinets.
8 a.m.: I was still absolutely starving when I got to work, so I devoured a nasty granola bar that had been in my desk drawer for months — but I didn’t even taste it.
9 a.m.: My stomach started growling again, so I ate some peanut butter crackers I found in my desk drawer.
10:30 a.m.: Still starving. I innocently walked into the office kitchen and happened to find a bag of Snickers minis on the counter…I’m helpless. (Don’t tell Terra!)
12 p.m.: Finally, finally, finally lunchtime! I went home and made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which finally took some of the edge off my endless hunger. I’m definitely noticing that I have a lot more energy than usual — I didn’t even want to sit down while I was eating. I’m anticipating a crash and burn at some point this evening, though. It’s inevitable, right?
6 p.m.: I went to the grocery store after work today to get all the supplies I needed to meal plan this week (and to keep from literally starving to death). I found a bunch of Terra-approved “healthy” recipes that I’m actually pretty excited to give a try.
After I got home, I went ahead and made my a salad for work the next day, with fresh lettuce and baked salmon. I also pre-packed some healthy snacks that I could eat throughout the day — green grapes, cheese and crackers, mandarin oranges, and pineapple chunks.
8:30 p.m.: After I sat down on the couch for more than five minutes I realized how tired I really was, so I headed to bed early. But I’m definitely feeling like I’ve got this under control. These next four days aren’t going to be hard at all!
5:30 a.m.: First day in the gym by myself and I won’t lie, I was definitely doubting whether or not I was going to make it. But once I was up (and caffeinated), I was feeling really motivated to go kick some ass. However, I got to the gym and of course there was a random stupid alarm going off (which you can hear in the video). I had no idea why it was going off and I couldn’t get it to stop, so I contemplated for approximately 2.5 seconds just giving up and going back upstairs. But then I decided that I wasn’t going to let that screw up my experiment — so I turned on some loud music and pushed through my arm workout anyway.
I must admit, I’ve always been a little intimidated by weight workouts (mostly because I had no idea what to do), but I’ve realized that they’re actually really fun! I’ve also always hated working out because I forced myself to do things that I hate (like running), thinking that was the only way. But if nothing else, this experiment has taught me that there are other ways to be active, and doing things you actually enjoy makes you feel much more motivated.
7 a.m.: I was feeling so motivated this morning after the gym that I came back upstairs and made a healthy breakfast for my boyfriend and myself: My special recipe of egg and bacon toast! However, I ran into a slight hiccup — my dog is used to our normal routine of being fed and taken out as soon as I wake up. So he wasn’t very happy when I left for the gym this morning before taking care of him; even though it was an hour before he would normally even be up, he was really confused and had a little accident while I was gone. So I’m going to have to figure out what to do with him for the next few days because I don’t think this routine is going to work for us.
8 a.m.: I was headed to work, feeling on top of the world…until the soreness in my legs set in. I walked a few blocks to work every day, and as soon as I started walking I realized how incredibly sore every single muscle in my legs were. I seriously doubted whether or not I was even going to make it (there was a very real chance my legs were going to give out and I was going to just collapse on the sidewalk). I normally like the feeling of being sore, but dang. This just confirmed how out of shape I really am.
12 p.m.: Being more prepared for the workout-induced hunger definitely made today better . I snacked about every two or so hours and my protein-filled lunch was a good choice as well. I’m still chugging water all day, but not starving anymore.
8 p.m.: I had to run some errands with my boyfriend after work, so I didn’t get home in time to pre-pack my lunch or snacks. I just decided to pack my snacks in the morning and come home and make a salad for lunch tomorrow instead.
Though I’m still feeling more energized than usual, I’m also starting to feel a little worn down without having any time to relax in the past few days. Going to bed so early is a little strange too, because my boyfriend isn’t tired yet and stays up watching TV without me.
5:30 a.m.: I 100% didn’t want to get out of bed this morning, and the only motivation I had was the smell of fresh coffee. I also decide to go ahead and take my dog out before my workout so he won’t be so freaked out. It’s only February, so it’s still freezing and completely dark and creepy early in the morning. I’m not a fan. I’m just feeling kind of cranky today, and I’m hoping the workout will help.
8:30 a.m.: My workout this morning was cardio and core, and I’ve never liked cardio, so that may have to do with why I’m still feeling cranky. I’m also just dragging this morning and taking way too long to get ready. I woke up three hours ago, but I’m still running late to work.
12:30 p.m.: I’m feeling generally annoyed today for some reason. I had to come home and cook lunch because I didn’t have time to do it last night, which is going to take much longer than just grabbing something easy like I normally would.
3 p.m.: My annoyance has given way to full-blown exhaustion. I’m struggling to stay awake at my desk, and my work is suffering as a result. I can’t really focus on anything I’m trying to accomplish because all I can think about is how much I would LOVE to take a nap right now.
8 p.m.: I had to run some errands after work again today and this just added to my irritation and exhaustion. By the time I got home, I literally just went straight to bed in an attempt to get the most sleep possible before tomorrow.
5:15 p.m.: I’m officially over this. I’d give almost anything for it to be Friday. Even though I got a good amount of sleep last night, it was nearly impossible to drag myself out of bed this morning. I’ve decided there’s literally no way that Terra isn’t completely exhausted all the time. This is just too much for one human to handle — Every. Damn. Day. Every single muscle in my body is screaming at me to take a break, but I have to go to the gym anyway.
12:30 p.m.: Although I’m still ready for this to be over, I’m in a much better mood today than I was yesterday. I’m also realizing how much I enjoy meal prepping — at least for lunch and snacks throughout the day. I feel more organized and just better overall by eating healthier and having all my food packed and ready to go every day.
6 p.m.: My apartment has stayed exceptionally clean this week as well. I’m realizing that another good thing about Terra’s schedule is that if there’s something that needs to be done (laundry, dishes, errands, etc.), it’s best to just go ahead and do it as soon as I get off work.
Before this experiment, I would be so ready to relax after work that the first thing I would do was pour a glass of wine and collapse on the couch, putting off other tasks and chores until later. But I see now that there are a lot of advantages to forcing myself to get these small things done before I let myself relax. I’ve learned that relaxing feels so much better after everything is in order and I’m not thinking about all of the stuff I need to do but don’t want to.
That being said, I’m also realizing how important my unwinding time is to me. I’m a classic introvert, so I think I really need that time to recharge after working and socializing all day. Without it, I start to feel even more stressed out. Because Terra is a thousand times more extroverted than me, this schedule works great for her lifestyle — but I’ll definitely need to come up with my own routine in order to keep working out and living more productively.
7 a.m.: I’m feeling so much more relaxed today because I decided to do yoga in my apartment instead of going to the gym. I was feeling really sore from weight-lifting and I think having some quiet time doing stretches was a great way to start my day. I also decided to wear my “FRIYAY” t-shirt today because I’m so freaking excited that it’s finally Friday! This has been a learning experience, and I’ve gotten a lot out of it, but man am I glad that it’s (almost) over.
12:30 p.m.: I’m feeling much more upbeat today, and I think it may have to do with yoga this morning. I really do enjoy the workouts, which is something that has surprised me about this experiment. I want to keep working out, but I definitely don’t want to work out before the sun comes up. Mainly because of having to take care of my dog, and that it causes me to have such a weird sleep schedule.
5 p.m.: Guess what the first thing I did when I got home? Yep, you guessed it: Poured myself an extra large glass of wine. Peace out, Terra’s schedule. It was eye-opening, but I can’t say that I’ll miss you.
Follow Christine on Twitter: @christine0022
Last modified on January 9th, 2018