DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m having trouble managing my sleep schedule, and I have a real issue with staying up late, sometimes when I have work in the morning, and sometimes when I just want to watch more television. When I don’t sleep enough, I wake up exhausted and grouchy. I work in a coffee shop, so often I have to get up early.
Today at work, one of my regular customers asked me how I was doing, and I gave an honest response: I was tired. We talk all the time, so it was fine that I told her the truth, but other customers gave me looks that said they couldn’t care less and I need to be on my job and get them their coffee. I know how little time people have in the morning for their coffee before work. I can’t afford to flake out with my customers. My boss has made it clear that the morning rush is the most important time of the workday for us to be on top of things. What measures should I take to better myself? -- Sleepless Night
DEAR SLEEPLESS NIGHT: It is time to get your priorities straight. Right now you are allowing distractions to derail your future. You know that you cannot effectively stay up all night watching TV or doing anything else when you need enough rest to function in the morning. Face the facts. Tell yourself that you will go to sleep at a particular time. Set an alarm 15 minutes before your bedtime. Then set alarms for when you must get up. Give yourself time to awaken fully, eat, get ready and get to work a few minutes early. Train your brain to support your needs. That’s when it works.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I lie compulsively about how busy I am, and I suspect it is a product of my depression and anxiety. Usually I decide to lie as a way to get out of possible time commitments in favor of alone time or even getting ahead on my work. Although I know having alone time is important, I think I should get out of the habit of lying like this. How do you think I should I approach this issue? -- Why Lie?
DEAR WHY LIE?: If you think this is possibly happening because of depression or anxiety, schedule an appointment with a mental health professional who can give you tools and possibly medication to help balance out your system so that you can begin to think more confidently.
In addition to professional help, start thinking things all the way through before you open your mouth. If someone asks you to do something or to share information, play the entire scene out in your head. What could the outcomes be if you tell the truth or if you tell a lie? What would happen if you say nothing at all? Evaluate each answer to get an assessment of what the best answer will be. Nine times out of 10, it is best to resist committing to sharing information that may be inaccurate or agreeing to do something that you know you have no interest or intention of doing.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)