"How's your day going?"
Seriously, how's it going?
Think about how you answer that question.
(I mean the genuine answer. Not the B.S. one you give strangers.)
I'm talking about if your spouse or your best friend asked you—how would you answer it consistently?
The longer I've been a mompreneur, the more I've found that my answer to that "How's your day going?" question grew to be consistently positive.
But only after I made the effort to change my morning routine.
Some days I'd sleep in, other days I'd get up.
Some days I'd get ready for the day, others I'd slip into a cut-out T-shirt and lounge around all day—getting nothing done, feeling exhausted, and dipping into a depression.
But when my kids started becoming less enthusiastic about going outside to play or doing, well, anything, I realized I wasn't being a very good role model.
So, I stepped it up.
And with 4 years of consistency under my belt (with plenty of health and family life "distractions" to shake it), I'm excited to share this 5-part morning routine to help you conquer each day with intention—with purpose.
Read on and take a leap toward more productive days, and a stronger business and life.
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Thing 1: Get Up (Even If You Feel Like Crap)
After multiple surgeries within an 11-month span, I found that the days I stayed in bed—regardless of justification—I felt worse.
My head was foggy, and I'd started exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
(I was literally getting sick from my pain and just letting myself be lazy because of it.)
SIDE NOTE: I've battled with anxiety and depression all of my conscious life. I can tell you without a doubt in my mind that if you suffer from any sort of "mental disorder" (note the quotes there...) or not, you can be or are your own worst enemy.
It's much easier to blame others, but what really matters is how you feel about and view yourself.
As a sufferer in more ways than one, no matter how crappy you feel, no matter who died, no matter what happened to you—you need to get up.
Get out of bed every single day.
Even when it hurts—get up.
Even when you're so tired your body just wants to stay cozy in it's warm cocoon of sheets—get the heck up.
Motivator: Remember every time you slept in and felt regret?
Nothing substantial got done that day.
- Your family was cranky
- Your house was messy
- (Your kids got into crap they shouldn't have)
- Your emails piled up and you feel like just giving up on them
...but not anymore.
Now you're going to get up, brush your teeth, fix yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and start your day off like your panties are on fire.
Because it won't get any better until you do something about it.
And not much gets done when you're sleeping in.
What You Can Do: Even if you're sick, prop yourself up and read a book or write.
It'll make you feel better about yourself, your situation, and your life.
Thing 2: Stretch And / Or Get Physical
No matter how tired or out of shape you may be, getting your heart rate pumping or ridding your body of stiffness first thing in the morning will help you start your day strong and refreshed.
What You Can Do: Wake up at least 30 minutes earlier tomorrow. (And every day after that.)
If you're like me and have (even the shared) responsibility of taking care of your family in the mornings, set your alarm 30 minutes earlier than you'd normally wake.
Spend 20-30 minutes every morning stretching, doing some Yoga or Pilates, jumping rope or even jogging in place.
If you have a gym membership (especially one with childcare), take advantage of it.
You don't have to "pump iron" for an hour or 2 to feel the benefits of getting some healthy blood flow going in the AM to kick-start your day the strong way.
Bonus Tip: Drink a full or half glass of water before and after your sweat session.
I've found that having at least 4oz of water before having my morning protein shake helps to control hunger and hydrate my body from the start.
Because staying hydrated is just as important to productivity as it is to your health.
According to a study in The Journal of Nutrition, in the test involving 25 young women (around the age of 23) results showed that mild dehydration caused headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
And although there was no considerable cognitive ability reduction, the test participants found comprehending tasks to be more difficult while slightly dehydrated.
With that said, we can pretty much gather that rest, a little physical activity, and staying hydrated are just as important to your health as they are to being productive.
Tip from a former over-hydrator:
Drink water when you're thirsty, not because you think it's healthier to drink a lot of water—it isn't. As someone with Celiac Disease who wound up with an enlarged liver and spleen and chronic, well, intestinal pain and other not-so-appealing things, I can tell you that there is such a thing as too much water.
Thing 3: Get Dressed
Have you ever laid around your house in your jammies (or whatever you slept in) all day?
You weren't sick. You just didn't feel like doing much of anything.
As a responsible solopreneur, how good did you feel about that day?
There's a difference between taking a day off to relax and recoup, and being lazy.
According to Dr. Max Donelan (Professor of Physiology and Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University), "the nervous system subconsciously monitors energy use and continuously re-optimizes movement patterns in a constant quest to move as cheaply as possible."
In a nutshell, we as humans are wired to be "lazy".
Something as simple as getting up, moving, and getting dressed can be a struggle for many.
Although life hiccups and negative happenings can make it easy to just sink into the abyss of our "pre-wired laziness", you have to push yourself, get yourself motivated, and do something about it if you ever want to bounce back—to recover.
The hardest part is the push-through.
The hard part is doing something about it—that moment in the span of your lifetime that could derail everything.
Once the "push" is done, it's over. You come out the other side successful in your triumph.
What You Can Do: Form positive daily habits.
It's tough, at first.
Getting into a new routine is tricky. But once you're acclimated, you'll find that life and work seem to miraculously become much easier.
And it starts with getting out of bed and getting ready for the day, every single day.
Working from home?
Get up and get dressed.
Get up and get dressed.
I go as far as to put on light makeup every day. I start the day with an "accomplishment" I wear pridefully throughout the day.
SIDE NOTE: A little CC Cream, mascara and lip balm helps me to feel fresh, confident, and my skin stays clear (which is another confidence-booster and less of hassle, overall).
Do what you need to do to help yourself feel good.
Thing 4: Check Over Your To-Do List
Your professional goal in the morning should be to set your day up to feel and be productive, happy, and healthy.
To start off on the right foot, every afternoon or evening (whenever you put work down each day) write out all the tasks that you need to do the following day.
Simply brainstorm the next day's activities.
You can snag them from a rolling list you've pre-composed and spend a few minutes after ending the work day to form an organized list of 3 to 6 tasks for the following day.
Then, when your work day begins, start it with a rested, hydrated, and ready mind—reviewing your task list for the day.
Pro Tip: Stay off your [personal] social media accounts and avoid the news, if possible.
One reason why I deleted my Facebook account is because I enjoyed scrolling and "Liking" and commenting a bit too much.
What I intended to be a quick 10-minute peek through my newsfeed would turn into an hour more often than not.
So, I made the decision to ditch all personally used social media accounts.
Pulling the plug on using social media for personal reasons may not be for you. But social media time (whether used personally or professionally) should be scheduled time.
And in regard to the news?
If something is important enough to allow the day to be potentially ruined, someone who cares about you will let you know.
You have a friend or family member who's a news junkie. Everyone does.
Let them inform you on what's important or you can wait till the end of the day to depress yourself (Oh, I mean inform yourself...) and watch the news or read something news-related then.
Or, you can always do an evening or midday news roundup, too.
(Just make sure you schedule that time.)
I use the LinkedIn Pulse app on my smartphone. It automatically prompts you on any subscribed daily or weekly roundups.
It's convenient. And it's checked during the time I've set aside to review just enough to know what the heck is going on in the world. Conveniently packaged in a non-biased highlights reel.
Thing 5: Do A Morning Brain Dump
Sometimes you'll have something to add to your day's to-do list.
Other times you just need to clear your head of everything flitting around up there.
I suggest 2 ways of brain dumping:
Mind-map style or "Morning Pages" style.
Familiar with mind mapping?
Whether you choose to set a timer or just let your mind work everything out, get in a habit of releasing your mind of all it's burdens for the day.
Putting them on paper is psychological relief.
So, according to Wikipedia: A mind map is a diagram used to visually organize information.
Start with a single concept, let's say it's "things I need to get off my mind".
Then, add branches.
We'll call one branch "Business Stuff", then another could be "Personal Stuff", and "Urgent Tasks", "Stuff for sometime in the future", "Stuff that's bothering me", and so on.
After you've brainstormed your branches, you can then start brainstorming subtasks or whatever other concept stems from those branches.
The "Morning Pages" form of brain dumping is great for less of a focus on strategy, and more of a focus on just "writing it out".
Morning Pages is a concept created by writer and filmmaker, Julia Cameron.
The original concept of the 'Morning Pages' is to write out 3 long-hand pages of whatever is passing through your conscious mind in the moment of writing.
It's a very freeing, unstructured way to clear your mind of everything you can muster.
EXAMPLE: My Morning Pages today went something like this:
- Call the doctor for my oldest today.
- Contact the integrative medicine place—do they care for children, too?
- Find a podiatrist for my stupid arthritic foot.
Seriously, it's just writing out whatever you're thinking.
You'll find that, with either method, you're able to focus on your planned tasks when your mind is no longer burdened by the millions of thoughts running through it.
And Never Forget...
...to do at least one thing every morning that makes you feel good about yourself.
My thing is getting a little sweaty (even if it's just running around the house tidying up), then bathing and putting some makeup on.
I feel beautiful, confident, and refreshed.
So, are you ready to revitalize your productive morning routine?
I'd love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. Comments, emails, running a business and being a mom of 3 were just too much for me to handle. So, blog comments got the boot. But the lack of a comment box doesn't mean I don't want to hear what you think! Share your thoughts with me via @GoffCreative on Twitter or directly via email.
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