Do you love or loathe mornings?
Nothing is as great as the sound of your alarm going off, the birds chirping outside and a tiny diva Poodle standing on your chest giving you the, “I need to eat and visit Mother Nature, now” look, right? In the past, I greeted my mornings with a feeling of trepidation and dread. I would worry about what I hadn’t finished the prior day that would come back to bite me in the butt or what my inbox would bring that would need to be done immediately.
Mornings were stressful. I rarely made time for breakfast. I rarely read my morning paper on the day it was delivered. I rarely faced the day with a smile and a desire to see what joys it would bring. I found, during my breast cancer treatments, that I needed to be better in charge of my goal management and I needed to get better at using the pockets of time I had free before I either headed out for an oncologist appointment or simply was too tired or achy to go on.
What did I do to conquer the overwhelm of my mornings and do those lessons learned still help me today? Here’s what I do and yes, they still help me wake up in a more peaceful frame of mind:
- Plan your next day at the end of the day you’re wrapping up. I’m not certain if you’re visited by the middle of the night gremlins that take hold and poke and prod you with all of the items (and it could just be one) that I didn’t get done during the day. The gremlins nag and nag and make sleep impossible. Action step: I write my to-do list for the following day before I close the door on my home office. If I wake up in the middle of the night and realize I left something off — even though it may not be earth shattering — I will jot it down on the sticky note I keep next to my bed; it helps quiet the gremlins.
- I am so creative first thing in the morning — after I’ve read my paper, eaten my breakfast and enjoyed a cup of coffee. I know that is the time I need to write blog posts, plan social media updates and work on my book. I slow down, mentally, in the afternoon and that is when I do tasks that don’t require high levels of creativity. In the afternoons I, make follow up calls, work on editorial calendars, work on anything I have to do that is on a spreadsheet! Action step: Take a few days this week to see when you feel the most creative, inspired and mentally alert. Plan your most mind-challenging tasks for that time of the day and use your off-peak times to do repetitive tasks.
- Technology is not always your friend and even though it is hard, I try not to check email until I have been working for at least an hour. I also will not check my phone or any social media until I have had my breakfast and have gotten a good hour of work in. As you well know, poking around on Facebook or Pinterest can be a time suck and you will not get those hours back. Add to it the double whammy of if you’re on social media during your peak creative hours you have lost that as well. Action step: Trust me, this isn’t an easy one to do, but do not open your email or check your phone until you’ve had your breakfast or your coffee or taken the dogs for a walk. If you find your most creative time is first thing in the morning, push that time of not checking email back an hour or so. Chances are, there is nothing so pressing that you’re not looking at your email until 10 am will be the end of the world.
Having a morning routine in place for both your work and your personal life will help you face the day with a smile and without that feeling of being overwhelmed the moment your feet hit the floor.
What can you do to take control of your mornings?