Creating structure and routine increases productivity and happiness.


September looms, with alarming crispness, on the calendar, and many families are busy organizing children for their return to school.  This back-to-school period tends to generate mixed emotions among students and parents alike but the lessons of this yearly migration back to the classroom, after a sun soaked summer hiatus, apply to everyone.  My theory? PMS please!


Human beings crave structure and build it through routine.  As a young school teacher, I learned from a peer that PMS is good for you.  I recall looking at this Grade 1 teacher with my mouth hanging open.  In my head I was thinking she was crazy, but then she revealed her secret.  PMS really means “Please More Structure” and I have used that term this way ever since.  We crave structure because although it is fun to laze through the summer holidays and occasionally enjoy a decadent vacation, research shows, we flourish through productivity.  My theory is that PMS is good for you.


Now that I am an entrepreneur, I cling to this phrase even more.  Most entrepreneurs are notoriously unstructured and although I am someone who accomplishes a lot in a day, I have the worst time scheduling myself.  In short, I am unstructured.  Phone calls are missed, meetings slip by and opportunities evaporate because I am “too busy” to jot them into my calendar.  I also often suffer from SBO – Shiny Bright Object syndrome.  This is akin to the family dog Maggie, who when she sees a squirrel, goes completely berserk.  I get distracted too.


As I think about my own struggle to better organize myself, I consider how I used to feel, as an overweight person, about food.  It would be fair to say that food created a chaotic cloud around me, wherein I could see neither routine, nor healthy habits.  Although eating seems like an ordinary thing to do, I, and many like me, suffer great confusion about how to accomplish it.  If this were not true, then why would rates of overweight and obesity, accompanied by associated diseases, be skyrocketing as they are?  Why also, would there be so many eating disordered folks?  Could it be PMS applies here?


I have noticed that the more routine I have built into my day, the happier and more productive I am.  The key is to lay that structure down and stick to it.  Eating Clean provides the healthy structure, relating to food, we inherently crave – think PMS for food.  For the millions following the lifestyle, the framework of eating 3 main meals, punctuated by 3 mini-meals, daily, provides the necessary routine of when to eat.  Not only that, but using the backbone of protein + complex carbohydrates + healthy fats consumed at every meal, and you now also know what to eat, as well as when to eat it.  This is highly satisfying in a world where what to eat has become the most asked question and orthorexia has become the newest eating disorder.


Do not mistake structure for rigidity.  These are not the same.  Structure is the living, breathing framework in which to operate.  It is anything composed of a series of parts arranged together in some way to create organization.  While rigidity feels more restrictive and implies denial and suggests inflexibility, strictness and severity.  A structure provides the driving directions but allows you to navigate on and off the road. 


As the house settles against a cloudy late summer sky, trees dropping crimson leaves in great swirls, I acknowledge that things will once more change.  Two daughters moves out to occupy their edgy little apartment in the city and another moves back home.  Just as I was learning to navigate the subtleties of young twenty something lifestyles, I had to change course and adapt to another, somewhat older daughter, who moves back in and has a whole different approach.  Every day is a surprise.  I either adapt and grow or get overtaken.


Putting myself in the path of change is a powerful way to grow.  I have embraced every opportunity to do so – the good, the bad and the ugly.  What I know for sure, yes I stole that from Oprah, is that you need to make yourself uncomfortable now and then in order to squeeze the most juice out of this lemon called Life.


You have also shown that you are willing to change.  I witnessed the outpouring of commitment in the Strike Sugar Challenge where you gave up what you had always considered as food and embraced something new – food without sugar.  You may not have liked giving up your coffee with Hazelnut Vanilla Creamer but you did it.  You probably thought I was crazy to suggest eating kale and eggs for breakfast, yet the bounty of photos on the Facebook page, shows that you did that too.  These were uncomfortable changes but you saw the reward and dug in anyway.


These structures, whether Striking Sugar, Eating Clean or scheduling your day, provide meaning and purpose to life’s daily unfolding.   Obtain structure from Eating Clean, pinning nourishment into place with those 6 meals.  Focus it further by keeping sugar out of the house rather than in it.  Build daily obligations and goals into your calendar and stick to your plan.  Let this “back to school” time of year remind you of the benefits of PMS.  You’re going to love it!


Remember, I am always listening.

Tosca Reno


I want to hear about your day. Any chance you could share your daily routine with me and let me know the benefits you get out of PMS? I can’t wait to hear about it.