Are you one of those naturally well-organised people who starts every day feeling focused, motivated and completely clear on what you’re going to achieve that day? Or are you like the majority of people who start their day by trying to work out which of their 8 billion priorities they should work on first and questioning how on earth they’re going to make a dent in their list at all that day?
If you’re more like the second person don’t panic, it means you’re perfectly normal! It also means that the tips I’m about to share will be particularly relevant to you. You see there’s something I’ve discovered over the years which is incredibly simple but has a huge impact on how effective and productive your working day becomes.
And it’s simply this…
The first 20 minutes of your working day will set the tone for the whole of the day.
So if you typically start your day by scouring your emails, checking all your social media notifications, going back though voicemail messages and piles of paperwork to work out exactly what it is that you need to achieve that day then you’re likely to start your day feeling slightly flustered and disorganised, maybe confused, perhaps even starting feeling the nagging stirrings of overwhelm creeping in already.
The painful truth though is that if the first 20 minutes if your day feels flustered, chaotic or disorganised that’s very likely to be how the whole of the rest of the day feels. Whereas if your first 20 minutes are efficient and productive, there’s a good chance that you’ll hang on to that feeling all day and get through a lot more work as a result.
So what can you do to get your day off to the best possible start? Here are my favourite tips.
Write tomorrow’s plan today
This is something I harp on about rather a lot in my workshops. It’s a classic Brian Tracy tip from his legendary Eat That Frog book and it absolutely, categorically works. And it works for 3 reasons. Firstly it allows you to actually close off your working day today, which can be really challenging when you work for yourself. Secondly, it passes those awkward or tricky tasks on tomorrow’s list to your subconscious brain so that it can slot them all nicely into place and make sure that by morning they don’t seem anywhere near as tricky. And of course, the third reason is because of the impact of the first 20 minutes of your working day on the rest of the day.
So by making the last thing you do each working day the writing of your to do list for tomorrow you will give yourself the best possible chance of starting the following day in a fantastic, productive groove straight away.
Achieve something quickly
In the social media and instant accessibility world that we live in today I know of very few people who start their working day without already having checked their emails and scrolled through their social media platforms. But this is all distracting, unproductive ‘stuff’. It’s putting you straight into that unfocused, faffy place that you really want to avoid at the start of your day.
So I know this is much, much easier to say than do, but if you can avoid emails and social media for at least the first 20 minutes of your day you’re far more likely to have a more productive day. You can always schedule those things into your diary an hour into your day if you really need to check them, but at least that way you’ve already started the day in a more productive way so they’re likely to prove less of a distraction.
Focus instead on something more significant so you can get something ticked off that list quickly & that speedy achievement will lift your focus even further.
Find out how to boost your own energy
Understanding your own energy levels and the triggers that help to boost your energy rather than drain it can hugely transform your concentration. Some things you might want to think about here are:
Exercise – are you somebody who gets a huge energy boost from exercising in a morning but struggles to fit that in? In which case how could you re-organise your diary to sneak it in there, even if all you can squeeze in is a speedy 10 minutes of something rather than a full workout. If exercise boost your energy then it will actually make extra time for you in your day because of the focus it gives you afterwards.
Hydration and nutrition – this is something I’ve been focusing on much more myself recently. One revelation that has really surprised me is drinking hot water with a slice of fresh lemon first thing in a morning rather than my usual 42 cups of tea. It seems to really refresh the body and mind and kick-start my energy. If you haven’t tried it I’d seriously recommend it.
Meditation – if you’re somebody who’s prone to feeling stressed or overwhelmed than 10 minutes of meditation in a morning could give you exctly the kind of calm start to the day that will really work for you. It’s a challenge though because the people who most need this are also the ones most likely to be anxious about getting on with their day so they feel like they don’t have time for meditation! But again, this is a time investment. It will pay you back several times over during the day through the extra focus and energy it gives you.
Journaling – again this is something I’m focusing on in my own business at the moment. I’m finding that 5 minutes of free-writing in a morning about my plans for the day and my approach to it is really helping to set up my mind and energy levels for the day. There are specific journaling books and templates out there if that’s something you’re interested in but right now a notebook and a nice pen is working just as well for me.
So those are my top tips to help you start your day off right. Do you have any other tips that you help you in this way? If you do, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.