The way I start my day will often have a huge influence on how I behave for the rest of the day; begin the day well and the rest of my day will flow. I’ll get loads done, and my creativity and awareness levels soar. Start it with the snooze button and all day long I feel like I’m struggling to catch up.
I’ve noticed that the most successful people are usually early risers; time after time I hear the most successful entrepreneurs, sportspeople, salespeople, adventurers, and managers making best use of the early hours of their day. They set clear intentions for the day ahead, take responsibility for self managing their laziness and get out of bed when the alarm goes off, rather than hitting the snooze button.
How, and why do they do it? I know it’s not easy, I’ve been there many times myself (I used to be a snooze button addict), and so I’m sharing my 8 practical steps to start your day in flow:
The night before – get the rest you need to wake feeling your best
1 Create certainty
Before the end of every day, get clear on what tomorrow has in store for you. Enough clarity so that you can switch off, knowing you are clear on exactly what you are going to do the next day. The brain needs certainty to be at ease; all of my meetings, client sessions, networking tasks, calls, etc. (the ‘who, what, where, when and why’ details) are input into my calendar.
2 Tell my brain to sleep well
I used to believe that listening to self-hypnosis recordings was a load of mumbo jumbo, until I started to use them regularly about 3 years ago. The brain listens. If I fill my brain full of negativity (watching the news or reading a newspaper is a very effective way to do this), then my experience of life becomes negative. Self-hypnosis is simply telling the brain there is a better way of experiencing life and I often use a very simple 10 minute recording by Tom Fortes Mayer of the Freemind Project to help me have a great night’s sleep. No matter how little I’ve slept, when I use this recording I wake up feeling rested, energised and ready to engage with my day.
3 Go to bed when I’m tired
Sure, I know this is obvious, but in the past I’d ignore my tiredness and stay awake, wasting time vegetating in front of the television. Listen to your body because it’s more intelligent than we sometimes realise; go to bed when you feel tired and if possible don’t watch television at all, or turn it off at least one hour before you usually go to sleep.
Each morning – spend 20 minutes improving your performance
4 Review your previous day’s performance
Take some time to sit down and notice your behavior from the previous day. Just 5 minutes is enough and you don’t have to be on your own; I often do my 5 minute review when I’m sitting on a train into work in the morning. Write down 1 or 2 brief sentences into the notes section of your phone, or a notebook if you prefer. Where did I do my best? What can I improve on? The point is simply to notice, just doing that will lead to improved behavior and performance. Your best will get better!
Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before, it’s much easier than you might think. You don’t have to know how to mediate to start, that’s why it’s called a meditation practice! Only 10 minutes is perfect, or longer if you have time. Search on YouTube for “Alan Watts – Guided Meditation (Awakening The Mind)” for a great place to begin. If you’re still stuck after listening to that, get in touch with me here and I’ll be happy to help. Meditation will help you to become more present, more aware, less stressed and much calmer. Mindfulness has become an integral part of many business leaders’ lives and meditation techniques have long been used in the US military.
If you can, put some music on and find a space to dance, even if it’s just for 1 track. Dancing is a brilliant way to start the day and I often do it – with headphones on. Yes, I look crazy, but no one can see me and afterwards I feel unstoppable! If dancing is not for you, go for a run, a walk, a bike ride; do whatever you need to get you body moving first thing in the morning.
[NOTE: The previous 3 activities I’ve recommended, can take as little as 20minutes each morning. Notice if you’re resisting by telling yourself that you don’t have the time. Make time! Now you’ve got things to do, get out of bed 20 minutes early, before the kids need you or you have to start work!}
7 Don’t turn on your phone
Keep your phone on airplane mode until you leave the house. You can access the internet for guided meditations without having to take it off airplane mode. It’s so easy to let 20 minutes fly past while checking emails and texts that can easily wait until later. Gift yourself this time!
8 Make a plan
Write down and make a simple plan for what you’re going to do and the time you will do it. Remember, the brain loves certainty and so will you each morning because with a plan, you won’t have to think about what you’re doing to start your day in flow, happy to be alive and brimming with energy.