Having a good, productive day, is indicative of mental wellbeing. You could also argue that having good mental health is indicative of having a good, productive day. Either way, both work in tandem, and it’s important to plan these 24 hours out, for the optimal life experience.
The worst thing about mornings are the rushed moments before heading out the door, praying you’ll make it on time to wherever you need to be. For a large portion of my adult life, the time I woke up was determined by whatever was first on the agenda, basically, I’d only get up out of bed based on necessity. This was a terrible way to set myself up for the rest of the day. It would usually be chaos choosing something to wear, chaos trying to make a quick and healthy breakfast, etc, etc. What I’ve found over the past year is that usually that chaos I introduce to my waking hours, usually bleeds into the rest of the day. Those hurried mornings left me feeling stunted, and incomplete. I would feel uncomfortable with the outfit I’d thrown together haphazardly, and I’d still be hungry over the small bits of breakfast I had hastily made.
So here are my morning rules:
Choose a wake-up time, and stick to it.
It’s important to not hit the snooze, and get up at the time you promised yourself 12 hours ago when you set the alarm. Don’t dilly-dally, and just get straight up, feet on the floor, and drag yourself to the bathroom for a cold slap of water to the face. A great way to ease into the morning is by opening the curtains up at night so you can wake up to the rising sun. If that’s not an option for you, I highly recommend getting the Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock with Sunrise Simulation, White (HF3500/60) that simulates this effect.
Write down at least one goal for the day, no matter how small.
It’s great to have written down a goal for the day in the morning, and then revisit this during the night and cross it off knowing you’ve achieved something. Even if you felt as if the day was completely botched, unproductive and a waste, you -at the very least- accomplished this one thing.
Fuel up – grab your favourite tea, eat a filling breakfast.
I wouldn’t recommend eating a carb-heavy or highly sugary breakfast. When I fuel up with carbs, I’m usually burnt out much faster. There are a large volume of studies as to why carbs are not the best meal to serve for breakfast, or just in any meals in general, but I won’t go into deal here. When it boils down to it, exercise your own judgement, and do your own research. Whatever foods make you feel your best, is the right way to go.
Get your blood flowing – walk around, skip around, do some yoga etc.
I used to read the news in the morning, but I’ve started to realise how much of a sinkhole this activity was for my time. What I mean by that is, I’d always spend up to an hour reading news articles about murders, terrorism – the extremities of life, and come out feeling as if the world is a terrible place. Nowadays, I get my news from engaging with people at work. If it’s a hugely important topic, it’s inevitable that you’ll hear about it from someone in your immediate circle. I just don’t think reading the news has any real benefits, and I know how ill-informed, and ignorant that makes me sound but I genuinely believe that reading the woes of this world serves no purpose. The headliners that make news can rarely ever be actioned by the readers, so what’s the point in dampening your mood over information which serves you no purpose in moving forward?
In short, I think the morning should provide a setup for a day coloured by uplifting moods, filled with hope and excitement.
What usually leaves us feeling unfulfilled is not having done a good day’s work. This discontent is usually compounded by the days that turn into weeks, weeks that turn into months, and months into years. When it comes down to it, the method/path to having a productive day is straightforward. We typically know when we need to do, but we spend the bulk of our time avoiding, and procrastinating with videos and social media.
I’d also like to point out that jam-packing your time with constant email correspondents and scheduling meetings is not a part of the productive way. Just because you feel busy, doesn’t mean you’re making good use of your time. Yes, those activities are necessary to advance your business, required tasks in your job, but don’t inundate yourself in clerical work for the sake of feeling busy.
What I’ve found really effective is starting with the most extraneous task of the day first. Get the most complex of jobs hammered out, and the rest of your to-dos will feel like a breeze.
When it comes down to the crux of it all, feeling productive is not just about checkmarking a long list of to-dos. At the end of the day, you have to feel as though the tasks you’ve done are being committed to the ‘big picture’, that you’ve made some sort of progression towards a life-long goal. If you’re working in a 9-5 job you don’t feel is your life’s work, then find a hobby or skill which makes up your life vision. Then commit some time to make it a side hustle. If you hack at this long and hard enough, the side hustle will eventually evolve into a full time gig.
You’ll always have time, with the 24 hours we’re all given, there’s always some extra minutes scattered throughout the day we can use to further our dreams of grandeur – make it work.
On the days I have to work from 9-5 at the office, the first thing I do when I come home is listen to some uplifting music, and drink some tea. I need this downtime to regather myself, but once I’ve indulged enough, I know exactly what needs to be done.
This free time is perfect for me to work on my side projects, and figure out my life’s vision. During this time, I’ll work on blogs, learn about web development and read a book.
During the two hours before my bedtime, I will usually stop using my computer. I still lay in bed scrolling through my phone but I’m working towards cutting all screen timeout. This is an important factor for falling asleep easily. If you have trouble sleeping, check out my post on How to How to Sleep Better and Live Better.
Before you end the day, it’s important to reflect upon the things that worked well throughout the day. What did you accomplish, what did you feel happy doing? These are important focal points because it reaffirms the positive in your life, and it furthers a sense of achievement so that you have some semblance of closure before you end the day. If you didn’t have a great day, reflect on why that is. What things did you not do? What things did you do that made you unhappy, unfulfilled, and unproductive? Consider the negatives so that you know how to improve upon them in the future. Even better – write them down in a journal so that you can read back on it in a week, month or even a year later and see how much you’ve progressed.
A day may seem like a short span, and when we don’t account for that time well, we can easily let the time slip by. Days become weeks, weeks become months, and months become years. Don’t let this time allude you, turn this compounding effect into a positive, and you’ll reap the rewards by achieving incredible feats.