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How to start earlier



I’m Andrea Griffith, a.k.a. AG, a TV Exec and writer based in Toronto, Canada. This newsletter is my happy place. Thank you so much for spending some time with me.


How are you faring?


The weather has been hit or mist up here, gorgeous sun, loads of rain. Though perfect for fashion (bonjour, light layers!), I still feel a tinge of funk. Like I’m out biking with my buddies, and we’re being called in for dinner. Like my freshly scooped ice cream fell and is kissing the pavement. Like I’m with a cutie and the last call lights crush our vibe. You get my drift.


I love fall when it’s a sunny, corduroy jacket meet-cute, but (for me) it can’t hold a flame to free wheelin’ summer. Fall is more of an “Aww, man…”


So, to crank up the fun, we go on family walks, hang out with friends, sell no-needs at our community street sale, and our personal fave – we go to an old school, crunch ‘em, crash ‘em demolition derby.


If you’ve never been, drivers take beat-up old cars, strip out the windows, spray paint themed designs on them, and smash and dash until there is one car standing. Or sputtering. Usually, sputtering.


There are safety rules, the fire department is on standby, there’s hootin’ and hollerin’, and holy moly, it’s a ridiculous amount of fun.


Even though I’ve renamed last month, Sleptember (all that rain made me dozy), it reminded me that fun is findable any time of year.


Since your time is precious, here’s a heads up of what I’m going to cover in this newsletter. You’re in charge. Hop, skip, jump at your leisure.

  • 1 Idea – How to start earlier

  • 2 Yescessaries - Two tips on how I get my sugar together

  • 3 All my yeses – Links to what I’m saying “yes” to right now


1 IDEA – How to start earlier


This last month has been an adjustment for me and the family. We’re building new routines, remembering old routines, and working towards those “magic mornings” when everyone gets out the door with all their stuff in ample time.


Write it down. Use what you have. Start earlier. Champion your yescessaries – these are some of the strategies I use when I produce television that help us at home.


If you missed last newsletter, there’s a full bio pack where I explain that I’ve been cribbing from how I produce television and using it to parent and live a “let’s be real” life.


How do I do it? Well, truthfully, some days I don’t. But I get through every day the best I can by honouring my personal code of strategies. I have a system.


I’d like to start the fun, creative journey of this newsletter by delving into the strategy that unlocked all the others. I taught myself and my family to START EARLIER.


Brace. Origin story.


Ages ago, we didn’t get my son (who was three? Four?) a snow suit in time. Of course, we did. Wah wah, AG. It’s not lost on me how many families need winter gear. We frantically hit up the stores and second-hand shops and couldn’t find one in his size. The snow had already flown and settled. It was the end of November before we landed one.


Admittedly, there’s some first-born drama mixed into this inciting incident, but it made me take a hard look at why we waited. Winter is no surprise to us up here.


I knew that if the “snowsuit source” were work-related, I would have been on top of it. Or had my husband, Step, on top of it. We’re a team.


When I’m producing, I put our crew on a track to tackle tasks early. Everything feels last minute when we’re in it, but the reality is, we are months ahead of the air date.


We slipped on the snowsuit, but I’m no slacker at home.


I totally slay sometimes.


But not all the time.


And that’s A-OK.


When I hold up the mirror to my life, I do it with love and compassion. I can’t slay all the time. It’s not possible. It’s a privilege that I can even entertain the idea of doing better versus keeping my people fed, watered, and alive.


That said, I want to have comfortable days and reduce stress, and for me, being more efficient as a family unit helps us all.


When we started earlier on more to-dos it relieved all sorts of stress. And I’m not talking a few tasks. We didn’t sprinkle, we hosed. Heck, we power washed our home life with starting earlier and it changed our EVERYTHING.


Thanks for reading so far because I’ve got something for you. I’d like to share a new perspective and a new term. I’ve changed the way we approach responsibilities by embracing - wait for it… being preactive.


It kinda sounds like exercise. No crunches – promise!


Check it. I found there are four types of planning. According to this helpful link, two key definitions:


Proactive - create the future

Proactive planning involves designing a desired future and then inventing ways to create that future state. Like:

  • Saving money to buy a long-coveted high-end barbecue

  • Taking a business course to start your own shingle

  • Applying for the job you want knowing that you don’t have the desired experience

AG aside: There’s this troubling trend with job-seekers (not just tech!) that females don’t apply unless they have one hundred percent of the qualifications. You can’t make it to the interview stage if you don’t apply. Passion and desire impress, not CV’s.


Pep digression. Back to the topic.


Preactive - predict the future

Preactive planning is an attempt to predict the future and then to plan for that predicted future. Like:

  • Booking your tax appointment well before the deadline

  • Buying extra toothpaste when it’s on sale

  • Meal planning

Here’s my take: proactive planning is crafting the life you want.


Preactive planning is getting ahead in the life you have.


I’m not throwing shade on proactive planning; we absolutely need both.


When we embraced my producer strategy of “start earlier” and supersized preactive planning, we completely reprogrammed the timelines of our lives. We were less stressed, excited for the occasion. We were calmer, there was less friction. We felt less pressure.


I hear y’all. Like what?


Let me drop some examples:

  • Seasonal clothes (a must for us Canucks) – We don’t have walk-in closets in my compact house, so summer clothes are packed up by August 30. Winter goes bye-bye by April 30th. We soft slide into spring in April and May. Chau overstuffed drawers.

  • Halloween – kids’ costumes are sourced/purchased second week of September. My kids hype Halloween, and it totally boosts the “go gaga” meter when they know what they’re wearing.

  • Holiday gift buying - We use Black Friday (end of November) to do the bulk of gift buying. Because it’s not an official holiday in Canada, the stores are empty after 10am and the deals are on point. Look out for me. I’ll be hitting laps with the seniors in that empty mall.

I have some start earlier dailies:

  • My Work To-Do List – I write my priorities at the end of every day for the next day. A plan in hand gives me peace of mind and helps me focus even if the day goes alternate universe sideways.

  • Clothes – We’re working hybrid (I love going in!), so on Sunday I pull out three outfits for the week and decide morning of. At the very least, I plan the night before. I’m surprising no one who knows me by this admission.

  • Kids’ Snacks - I pull out reusable containers the night before. Searching for a matching lid for a tiny container in the morning is a form of punishment never to be inflicted on the living.


I still miss on some things. Possibly, a lot of things. I’m human. I’m BUSY. We’re busy. I should have started earlier on this newsletter post. But for the most part, life is SO much smoother.


It’s taken us years to re-craft our lives and find opportunities to start earlier. You know how it is, when you look for opportunities, they light up like a constellation.


You may be a star at early starts already (yeah you!) but try looking again. I bet there are many more timelines you can bump up.


So, how did I start this whole “be preactive” journey? I examined my weekday.


I Bullet Pointed a Day


And I wrote it down. I started from the moment I woke up and re-lived a day in my mind.


I have an “every day is different” occupation, but I still brush my teeth, hit the java or tea. I sometimes eat. There are some constants even when my days are varied.


I jotted down my typical weekday and was specific.


I Chose One Daily Task


I asked myself, “Is there anything I could have started earlier that would have helped today go more smoothly?”


I chose one thing and that was setting out the ‘fits on Sunday. It worked and reduced my morning scramble. So, I kept looking for other opportunities.


I didn’t attempt to overhaul. I started with one task that I could safely set up for myself earlier. Small and simple. And when I felt I got it, I added another. That’s it.


If you’re up for it, try it. Add one more task, then build on it. You can blow this start earlier strategy right the hell up.


And please share. Don’t go it alone. You and your people can be preactive, even the young ones. Even the old ones. Have fun with it. Be ok with missing sometimes.


We can’t slay every day, but we can aim to improve and be smooth. There’s nothing wrong with that.



2 YECESSARIES – Two tips on how I get my sugar together


This is the section where I share what’s in my Idea Log. I’ve been keeping track of what works for me and my family for years and I’m ready to share.


COOK ON MONDAYS


I batch like a bad ass. If that’s not the name of a cookbook, it should be. I’m the family chef and I love to cook on weekends. I make enough to store for another meal or two, but it still isn’t enough when we’re in a weekday time crunch of feeding everyone before a practice or a game.


The best strategy I’ve come up with is to cook on Mondays. Most Mondays. Nothing I suggest is regimented. My life is flex. My suggestions are flex.


But I try to make one more meal on Monday night and sometimes I crank it out after the kids go to bed. It works. That extra meal gives us enough variety to not feel “been there done that.” I use Monday nights to lighten the load for the rest of the week.


STORE LIKE A STAR


We don’t have a ton of space (mentioned the petite house) so, I have a few rules when it comes to storing things:


  1. We use clear bags or clear storage bins

  2. Any bins that aren’t clear are accurately labelled

  3. We keep same season things in the same area

  4. We store frequent use items on the main floor

  5. We make a to-get list for the next season


Last one - game changer. When I’m storing the kids’ summer clothes/winter clothes and donating what they don’t need, I use that time to make a list of what they DO need.


I’m doing inventory anyway, why not set up for the next season?


Four tee-shirts, three shorts, two more swim shirts – they’re still growing.


I write down a list of what the kids need for the corresponding following season, and I put it right there in the label of the box, where I can’t miss it.


It helps me source the next year without over buying. A useful way to start earlier.



3 MY YESES – What I’m saying “yes” to right now


  1. I’m always chasing a good night’s sleep and I came across this ayurvedic practice that’s helping me snooze HARD.

  2. I love a deep V. Sultry. The word sultry makes me giggle. Tee hee.

  3. I dig my moisture and try not to cross into raisin territory. My friend, Angie, bought me a tub of this company’s shea butter and I’m all about it. Black-owned. Also available here.

  4. Bring on them pumpkins! This soup was a big hit. I adjusted for the kiddos, reduced to 1 tbsp of curry paste (I only had green curry), upped the ginger to 4 tbsp, and I didn’t have lemongrass. DIVINE.

  5. I just went down to the kitchen and Step talked to me for five minutes (again!) about the yum factor and versatility of this sauce. We use the Original. My son says he’s only using this sauce and eating ramen when he goes to university. Boy’s got dedication.

  6. I have chronic knee pain (old soccer injury) and have implemented 5 minutes of stretching in the morning and at night. I cannot get over the difference in my gait, my walking endurance, my swimming. Of course, consult a physician before embarking on anything. My number one is a V-sit stretch that I hold and breathe through. I also use this time-tested book. Hitting extra laps at the mall now.


Well, that’s all she wrote folks. Thanks so much for being the raddest readers. I appreciate every moment with you. I hope you have a safe and fun Halloween, and that the coming weeks bring loads of blessings!


Until,

xoAG


P.S. Finding moments to write this month was extra tough, but I mined time while cheering from the bleachers, during piano lessons, and late dates with myself at the library. When I finished, I danced to this song. Celebrate your wins dear friends.

Enjoy!

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