Paulita LaPlante’s morning is for the birds — literally. After waking up at 5:30 and completing a 10-minute stretch, she gets interrupted by other pets and feeds them before turning her attention to the bird feeders.
“This immediately makes me either happy, mad or guilty,” says the chief strategy officer and managing partner of Prescription Landscape in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. “Happy if there is a pileated woodpecker on the suet. Mad if some stupid deer head-butted the sunflower feeders to emptiness. Guilty if its sub-zero and everything needs to be refilled.”
It’s obvious that birds are high on LaPlante’s morning priority list. During growing season, she cleans or refills feeders, checks vegetable gardens and refills her bird baths.
Here is LaPlante’s average day.
Breakfast is liquid — coffee, water, milk — I drink all of this while I assemble my meals to-go for the day. When I say “assemble,” I mean it. I use a bento box approach to meals, so I put 4-5 containers of the main food groups (protein, grain, fruit, veg) into a small food cooler. When I get to work, I will eat whatever makes me happy. That may be hot curried noodles, or it may be buttered bread with sliced apple and cheese.
My commute is 23 minutes. I listen to Minnesota Public Radio News to get the headlines, the weather forecast and the market open.
Mostly, I like to be in between 8 and 9 a.m. I say “hello” to whomever is in, fill my tumbler with water, then set up my Surface and log into Microsoft Teams.
I go through the daily e-mail I receive from Microsoft Viva. This permits me to quickly review commitments and follow-ups from all the emails that I have sent, mark them as done, or pop them into a follow-up queue. This utility makes a person look awesome but seriously, it’s the software. I then check for bids and contracts that I need to review/sign and flag them by due date. I do the same for emails. Depending on the day and appointments, I also use Viva to block time into my calendar to prep for meetings. I am a huge believer in leaning on software to help me be more productive.
I have lunch booked into my schedule 12-1 p.m. every day. Depending on the day, that can change a bit. As I previously said, I typically make my lunch so it’s pretty easy — a hardboiled egg, cubed cheese, nuts, a veg, a fruit, whatever salads/soups I made on the weekend and bread. It’s a lot easier to eat healthy this way. Also, if I have to hop in the car to go to a jobsite or to another branch office, I can easily take this along.
1-3 p.m. is a popular meeting time, especially because we use Teams and can get a lot of meetings completed. This time slot is usually when I work on solutions to issues brought up in morning meetings or field work.
I leave the office between 5-6 p.m. Again, I listen to Minnesota Public Radio News to catch up on what happened during the day. I know a lot of people will keep tabs on news throughout the day, but I find that can send me into a rabbit hole so drive time is news time.
I don’t mind occasional text message exchanges in the evening, but I don’t want phone calls since that requires more concentration which revs your brain and body metabolism when you should be in the home zone. Sometimes, there are issues that come up on a Friday that you need to work on over the weekend. When that happens, it’s best to agree to what everyone can commit to doing over the weekend. Sometimes that simple exercise of commitment and talking through priorities reveals that the issue can actually be handled during the week.
At 9:15 p.m., I get a mindfulness alert from my Apple watch. There are a variety of topics. I read the topic but don’t begin the session right away. Instead, I think about the topic while I get the dishes done, clean the kitchen, throw a load of clothes in the wash, pet duty, etc. This is meant to be a 15 min. effort — pick up the big stuff, pack up my Surface and briefcase, and make sure there are zero opportunities in the kitchen for counter-surfing pets. Around 9:30 p.m., I get a wind down reminder that 10:30 p.m. bedtime is coming up. I check the people/groups I follow on Instagram which takes all of 10 minutes and then I read a few magazine articles or a few chapters from a book.
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