How hectic and chaotic are your days?
Do you run around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get ready for work, or whatever your day holds? Jump in the car and hit a drive-through so you can grab a bite without being too late. Then, hastily scroll through your email and calendar to see what you need to do first thing that you probably forgot about.
And it only goes downhill from there.
Don’t do that.
Let’s start over. Be Kind, rewind. Like it said on those Blockbuster VHS tapes. (What’s a VHS, I heard someone say.)
You need a better morning routine.
And it starts with a little planning. Actually, it started yesterday. Before you leave from work. There are four things I want you to do before you leave your office. Every day. Plan about twenty minutes at the most. First, go through your email. File everything in its proper place. I’m not going to do a deep dive in email management here; that’s another article.
The point is, you need to leave your inbox empty. This does three things that will help your morning. First, you are aware of anything that came in late that needs your attention early. Put those on your to-do list for tomorrow. Second, it ensures that any email in your inbox in the morning came in overnight and is most likely spam. Third, it gives you a sense of closure, of completeness to your day. Take a deep breath.
The second thing you need to do is take a glance at your calendar. Anything on it for first thing tomorrow? Either way, you know it before you come running into your office, sloshing Starbucks all over the carpet. That early meeting shouldn’t be a surprise. That’s what calendars are for.
Now the third thing. Turn off the computer. Click. Done. You have finished today. Tomorrow you will begin your day by turning on the computer.
The last thing before you leave is to clean off the desk. File or trash everything on it. Tomorrow, as the last part of your new morning routine, you will walk in calmly to a clean desk and a blank screen.
So, what about that morning routine? That requires planning also. It may take you a few days to fine-tune it, but it starts at the end, and you back up from there. You need to start your day with enough time to do everything you need to do in an orderly and leisurely fashion. This will probably mean getting to bed earlier, which is a good thing. You’re not eighteen anymore; you need sleep. This staying up to eleven to watch the news business is leftover from another century. Go to bed.
Okay, let’s start at the end. How long does it take you to walk from your car or commute to your office? Allow time for a restroom break and to stop and speak to a couple of co-workers. Make a note of that time. How long is your commute? Allow for a nearly worst-case scenario. How long does it take on a bad traffic day? You don’t need to factor in a meteor taking out the only bridge but allow for contingencies. Also, allow time to pick up that coffee.
Now, keep backing through your morning, tracking how long it takes to do things. Not how you did things before, but how you should be doing them. Take your time. Go slow and be intentional. Take a long hot shower and dress slowly. Prepare and eat a good, healthy breakfast, sitting down. Sitting down with your partner or family would be even better. Spend a few minutes browsing social media or your favorite news site.
Check to see what great article Darryl Brooks wrote yesterday. This one is important.
Allow time for some exercise unless a trip to the gym happens at some other part of your day. Even so, take some time for stretching, yoga, or pilates. Spend ten to fifteen minutes just getting out of bed. Lay there and wake up. Greet the day. Do some slow, lazy stretching, Then stand up and do a bit more. Head into the kitchen to start your tea or coffee.
Once you’ve worked through the timeline, you will know what time you need to wake up. Set the alarm for that time. From now on, that’s when your day starts. Now, back up eight hours; that’s when you go to bed. I don’t care, just do it. Try it for a week and see how you feel. Whatever you used to do after that time was not that important. If you reset your whole day, you will feel much better. Trust me.
A chaotic day begins from the moment you jump out of bed. Use these tips to reset your day starting the day before. At first, it may feel like you are spending too much time doing things, not to mention going to bed too early. But I know from many years of experience, you will look, feel, and act better. I’ve done it both ways. After you get used to it, your morning will be your favorite part of the day instead of something to rush through to get to work.
And here’s one more thing. Now that you aren’t rushed and stressed out, I want to use your commute for something besides getting from point A to point B. If you drive, get some audiobooks. Or learn a new language. This just adds one more facet to your morning routine. One more thing to look forward to. Instead of dreading sitting in traffic for an hour, you will look forward to getting through the next chapter of your book.
And do the same thing on your commute home. After you have prepared your office for the next day, prepare your mind for your home and family. Listening to a book or lessons will flush away the day. Leave work at work. Your home and family are the only reason you are working so hard; give them the attention they deserve.
Stop with the rushing, stressed-out morning routine you are used to. That sets the tone for the whole day. But so does a thoughtful, leisurely morning.