Out of Phase

It starts simple enough. Maybe you lie in bed a few minutes after the 5:00 a.m. alarm goes off. Sleep last night was hard to find. Couldn’t get there, couldn’t stay there. At least you’re up. You find that you missed a step in last night’s routine that throws you off a bit this morning. Have to correct that. So you get to the gym already off your game. Workout has to be done. This is one of the non-negotiables. Not doing it would screw your day up even more than it already is. It’s tough because you’re tired. Today is not the day for personal records. So be it. Sometimes the best you can hope for is to try and maintain. So you maintain.

You’re behind schedule. Recovery between exercises took several seconds longer than normal. But seconds add up. Now you’re fifteen or twenty minutes off your normal routine. Maybe more. The day is going to be one of those. The type where it’s all just a little bit off. Not because of the workout. No, that had to be done. Just because we can’t always execute as well as we would like. Some days we’re just off. Out of phase with how we’d like it to go.

So, you’re behind. Not a reason to stress about it. Or rush the rest of your morning. That will only make it worse. You’ll make mistakes. Maybe forget something. End up focused on the wrong things. At best, this will lead to irritation. Sometimes we have to accept being out of phase. Maybe you can recover, maybe you can’t. Bring the wrong energy to bear and you definitely won’t.

Being out of phase isn’t an excuse to let things slip. We still have to do the work of living. Still have to be intentional and effective. Arrival time at the office is going to be a bit later than normal. Hopefully you’ve established a bit of a buffer in there and traffic isn’t too bad. Or your arrival time is flexible.1

Little things might continue to be off. Nothing major. Nothing that, by itself, would really impact your day. Take a deep breath. Otherwise all the little things feel bigger. You left your breakfast bar in the car. There’s an issue getting your computer working and the restart takes forever. Someone didn’t make coffee. An urgent email came in while you were on the drive in and you have to scramble. You’ve got a meeting and the conference room is the farthest possible distance from your desk. You manage to get there two minutes early and find it was cancelled a minute ago. Or moved to a different room.

On it goes.

Being out of phase in the morning doesn’t have to equal a bad day. It’s possible to recover and have the rest go beautifully. That can only happen when we detach from our synchronization problem. Just like changing gears requires separation from the current gear, you have to let go of the problems you had this morning. Don’t dwell on them. You might have to make the attempt multiple times. Perhaps repeatedly through the day. Sometimes we get stuck and our execution is just off. Don’t over-react to any of the little frustrations. Over-reacting will make it worse, throw the timing off even more. Then things eventually spiral and you’ve gone from being out of phase to full on bad day.

We have patterns and preferences. Some days it all lines up perfectly. Other days, not so much. Stay with it. Reflect and adjust as needed, but don’t let those critical small things slip just because you feel out of sync. Exercise, meditation, journaling, connecting with others, reading - these things help even the out of phase days still count as good ones. Make today count as best you can. You’ll have another one tomorrow.


  1. Try not to let being out of phase result in issues with your job. There is zero chance that getting yelled at by your manager will put you back into phase, it can only make it worse.