When there's a lot to get done in a day, its easy to roll off the pillow and hit the floor at pace to get through it all. As logical as that sounds, a more gentle, considered and strategic start to the day tends to lead to greater productivity, a lessened sense of overwhelm and proper prioritisation.
Here's five easy steps to help you achieve more in your day:
1. Set some intentions for the day.
I like to ask myself every morning, 'What would make today great?' Sounds simple, but it can actually be quite difficult to answer. But there's two great reasons to ask it.
Firstly, if you have no idea what would make that day great, how do you know if you have a good day? The days begin to roll from one to the other without ever feeling like something's been achieved.
Secondly, it brings focus. If you ordinarily wake under the burden of an ever-growing 'To Do' list, setting some intentions around the list items brings a lucidity to what really needs to get done today. Think to yourself how it would feel to knock off a few projects or get the ball rolling on others and how awesome that would feel.
And have fun with it, sometimes my intention is to smile more today or uplift the mood of everyone I encounter or just to remember to breathe more deeply a few times a day.
2. Rise early.
Research has proven again and again that people that rise early achieve more success. Whether that's to journal, meditate, walk or getting school lunches cut and packed before the chaos, meeting the world 'on your terms' is preferable. Be up before the phone starts ringing and your objectives get whisked up and entwined in other peoples agendas.
3. Go for a twenty minute walk first up.
This is a great tip from I Quit Sugar's Sarah Wilson, that's so simple yet, when put into practice, so profound. Just have a spot somewhere in your house that you keep your walking shoes, walking clothes, earphones etc and when you rise simply dress and head out the door and walk for twenty minutes. Doesn't require thought or effort - and yet suddenly you are exercising everyday with ease. Research shows that the majority of health benefits from cardiovascular exercise come from just twenty minutes walk per day.
As someone that's had periods of being very fit, I always make it too hard for myself when I try and re-start a fitness regime. I set goals or over-plan it - and the reality is it then becomes just another burden on my list to get done and, therefore, very often, falls away. But who can't find twenty minutes to walk? (Especially now you're rising earlier!)
4. Plan your day.
Take ten minutes BEFORE you check emails, before you answer that first call to plan what's important today and how you're going to get it done.
Here's the system I use. Start by doing a brain dump and getting it all out of your head. Then prioritise it quickly (you'll intuitively know what's most important); 1. MUST do today, 2. Do today if time, 3. Things to do when there's a quiet moment. This keeps your focus so you don't skip something important that bores you and choose a more enjoyable item at number 3. Sometimes something new may arrive to you that's gotta go straight to priority 1 - that's fine. You can also do a half- day check in and perhaps juggle a few in line with changing priorities. Remember to cross 'em off as you go! (Is there a better feeling than a big black line of completion?)
5. Before bed.
Grab your daily priorities and start a fresh page re-numbering priorities 1 to 3 with what's left on today's list. That way tomorrow morning (after your walk, and 'ease' into day) you can just add anything that's come up over night. Then switch off. You've got this sorted. You know what's important for tomorrow.
Check in on your day's intention - did you remember? Did you achieve it?
If you keep a journal write down some good stuff that happened today or that you achieved. If you don't keep a journal - start one! It's so natural to focus on what didn't go right, so journaling the 'good stuff' helps to balance that out. This also becomes a handy 'pick me up' resource to read when you're feeling flat and need reminding that you have done some great work.
Then go enjoy yourself! Have fun, cuddle a beloved of two legs, four legs, furs or feathers, dance, play tennis, go for another walk .......But remember to go to bed early!
Here's a great infographic from Entrepreneur to help you have a super productive day - http://entm.ag/1wKkxej