It’s the start of the work week, and you know what that means: the majority of anyone “largely online” will be preaching the rise and grind manifesto while the rest of us lay in bed far too long, scrolling through Twitter and wondering if the people we worked for could be charmed into paying us for doing nothing, forever.
So this is for you: the actual pep-talk most of us are interested in and also need, particularly if you’ve woken up to a headache, weird emails, or to the realization that you forgot to buy coffee and are now drinking Diet Pepsi at 10 in the morning because somehow this is the adult you morphed into.
Rise and grind, realistic-style. Or maybe more specifically? Just get through the day.
Step 1: Get up
Get up! Just get up. Sit your body up, and do not put your head back on that pillow. I know the light hurts, and you’re tired, and the last thing you want to hear is me bossing you around in the A.M., but look: get up. It’s fine. Everybody feels this exhausted, it’s not just you.
Step 2: Caffeinate
This isn’t for anyone off caffeine, I’m sorry. This morning, pre-Pepsi, I could feel the caffeine headache beginning, and I wondered out loud (to the plants I’ve managed to keep alive) who’s ever successfully weaned themselves off the one thing I need to stay alive. So: drink your coffee. Make your coffee, drink your coffee. Speak to no one. This isn’t their journey. Trick your brain into thinking you’ve slept enough. And then get ready.
Step 3: Get ready, eat breakfast – the specifics are yours to decide
I can’t eat breakfast until lunchtime because my stomach and I are Sam and Diane from Cheers. So eat breakfast if you want, or don’t if you’d rather consume a full pot of coffee with enough milk to justify it being a dairy treat. Then: get ready. I don’t know what this means for you, but try to look like a person. You can do this. You can make your hair presentable enough that should you see a person you hate, they will be in envy of you. You can choose an outfit you feel powerful in. Why? Because otherwise you will spend all day staring down at the button-up you bought only because it was on sale, and revel in regret. First: that you bought it at all (it’s not your fault – I just did it like, two weeks ago), and second: that you’re stuck feeling like it’s 2002 and you’re dressed appropriately for grad photos.
Step 4: Honestly, just do the work
Just do the work today. That is your goal. Make a list of what you need to do, and then do it. That’s it. Does it need to be good? I mean, probably (if you want to remain employed). But aim simply for completion. My favourite thing to say is that you will do it because you don’t have a choice. And I mean, you can absolutely choose not to do something. But when it comes to doing your job, the other choice is job abandonment and you need to pay rent. So head down, headphones in, whatever. Treat yourself to another Pepsi.
Step 5: Make a list of ridiculous to-do tasks
I would love to say that you can achieve everything with positivity, but that isn’t true and I don’t trust anybody who believes it. Instead, I believe in rewarding myself for doing the least on days where I’m not sure I can get through doing the most. Which is why I have tasks like “make list” and “email so-and-so” on my to-do list, so that when I do those things, I am reminded of what I can achieve. (Everything.) And so can you.
Step 6: Eat lunch
You made it to lunch. You, a person who used eight bottles of dry shampoo on your messy bun, has made it hours into the work day, and now you are going to nourish yourself with various forms of food. What should you eat? I don’t know you, and I don’t know what you want. But I do know that you should feast only on what you’re craving because life is short and you deserve it. The other day all I wanted to eat was chicken fingers, and do you know what I did? I ate them. Because life is hard and I’m not about to stop denying myself types of food in an attempt to . . . I don’t know what. Feel fulfilled? For heaven’s sake.
Step 7: Just plow through the afternoon
This is the ultimate test: will you survive? Yes. But the only way you will is to add more things to your to-do list that involve “grabbing a coffee” and “asking co-worker about their weekend” and then finding excuses to go outside and remind yourself that in mere hours, the fresh air is yours.
Step 8: Celebrate the end of your marathon
Because you did it. Look at what you achieved! YOU GOT THROUGH THE DAY. (Anybody who can’t believe this can be a battle are people I do not want or need to know, goodbye.) You made it through, and now the evening is yours. And so help me, if you don’t use at least a minute to celebrate what you’ve achieved, you don’t deserve this step-by-step guide to survival. Eat an ice cream. Watch a Netflix. Walk around the city with your friend, screaming into the night about how tired you are. Read a book. Sit, staring at nothing. You are free now. Tomorrow will be easier. And if it isn’t, consult this list. Or find me on Twitter, and read all my tweets, knowing that it could always be a little more grim.