Getting moving in the morning does not come naturally to me. It takes willpower. Otherwise, if left to my own devices, I would be foggy-headed and unproductive until well past noon, with or without coffee. So to make the most of my days, I developed some habits that help me start my day on the right track, get more stuff done, and feel better for it. Perhaps these tricks will help you too.
Start the night before. I love lists. Without them, I’d be hard pressed to remember everything I need to get done. Each evening, when the work day is fresher in my mind, I create my “to-do” list for the next day. That way, I will not forget important tasks overnight. It also improves my mood in the morning. It could feel overwhelming when making this list at the start of the day — how will I ever get all this done? Instead, I get a good night’s rest and when morning arrives, hit the ground running.
Feed your brain. Breakfast is crucial. I am now the millionth person to tell you this. Do you eat breakfast everyday? Coffee and a donut is not breakfast. I’m talking about something healthy, such as oatmeal, fruit, yogurt, granola. A full belly focuses the mind. Breakfast time for me is first thing in the morning.
Exercise your body. I am much more productive when I get in some physical activity. It helps to clear out any remnants of sleepy time and get my adrenaline going. Do enough so you feel fully awake, but don’t kill yourself. You don’t want to immediately feel exhausted and tired again. My morning workout takes about 30 minutes: Some push-ups, ab crunches and stretches in my living room, followed by quick walk outside; the fresh air is invigorating.
Honor your soul. Upon returning from my walk, I have a quick meditation session, about 15 minutes. This helps to center myself and get back in touch with whatever is the major goal or task I’d like to accomplish that day. I get quiet and listen to my inner guide. My daily mantra is: I have love to give. I have gifts to share. I have creativity to release. I have abundance to experience. For me, that would be a great day.
Dress for success. Studies show that your wardrobe impacts your mindset. The better you look, the better you feel, and the better you feel, the better you are at getting things done. I work from home, so I don’t need to wear a suit and tie. But at a minimum, I put something on so that when the UPS guy knocks, I won’t be embarrassed to answer the door.
Clock in. A regular start time is a sign of commitment to the importance of your work. For me, I am at my desk at 8 a.m. Choose a time that works best for you. The exact time is less important than the consistency of hitting the mark.
Stay out of your inbox. Email can be a giant time suck, especially for easily distractible types like me. Resist the urge to dive into your messages first thing in the morning. Otherwise, you’ll risk getting sidetracked by other people’s agendas. Same thing goes for Facebook and Twitter.
Be a giant killer. Here’s when I pick up my to-do list and weigh the various tasks before me. It may be tempting to go for some “quick wins” but I find myself better off when I knock off whatever is my top priority for the day. Not necessarily an entire project, but at least a significant task connected to it. That way, no matter what happens the rest of the day, I’m already a success for crossing something major off my list. Hooray me!
Email is now permitted. Resist the urge to read and reply to message in the order received. Scan your inbox first and open emails in order of importance. First, I look for replies to messages I sent, especially if there is something in particular I’ve been waiting on. Then I note any replies I have not yet received. I then send out reminders to these folks to get in touch with me. Next I move on to messages about things other people are waiting on from me. I’ll tackle them if urgent. Otherwise, I will get to them in the course of my to-do list. Next, I open anything that could be considered new business and add to my to-do list accordingly.
From this point on, I go back to my to-do list and repeat the process. Tackle something big, avoid email until it’s done, and respond to messages in the same manner above. No Facebook or Twitter until at least lunch.
I’d love to know if you have your own system for success. What have you tried that has worked and not worked for you? Try the above and let me know if it works for you. I’m also here for one-on-one custom coaching and support; just drop me a note to learn more, or with any questions.
Photo: JD Hancock, Flickr.com