Photo Credit: dltcy
5 STEPS TO A MORE PRODUCTIVE AND MOTIVATED MORNING
How many times have you started the day with good intentions, only to realize at the end you are far from where you wanted to be? You might be a writer attempting to put your idea on paper. You could be a filmmaker working on hiring the necessary crew. You might be the professional that has a big project coming due. Derailed days have happened to me more than I care to admit to all you fine folks.
If you are like a lot of creatives I know, you have spent days waiting for the moment of inspiration to come. Always looking for it on the other side of the next invented task that is distracting you from your important work. Note: rearranging your desk is an invented task and so is organizing your red stapler collection. This is a common struggle for most individuals, not just a creative person. You sit there attempting to figure out how you can complete the projects that you’ve decided are worthy of your time without making any true progress. Frustrating.
Let me ask a second question. How do you start your day? Everybody seems to have his or her own unique answer. For the sake of simplicity, the answer boils down to one of four approaches. You either ease into your day, follow a routine, jump into hyper productivity mode, or you’re the chronic morning procrastinator.
Most of my life I’ve been the chronic morning procrastinator. Le sigh. Late to get up after hitting snooze 5 or 6 times. Even once I got up, I was a bona fide zombie until I had my morning coffee. When I eventually snapped awake, it was only to realize I needed to rush through getting ready and heading to work. I always found mornings to be chaotic and unproductive, which ended up impacting the rest of my day. It was a stressful vicious routine with no end in sight.
One morning I was talking with a friend who runs a successful business with over 50 employees. He casually mentioned that he puts all of his clothes out the night before. He went on to explain the benefits. It streamlines his morning. He always knows what to wear. It frees up additional time and eliminates that feeling of rushing. All of these have a direct impact on his stress levels and how he approaches his work through the rest of the day. I was intrigued.
I’ve heard the saying “Tomorrow is a new day!”. While that technically is true, I was dismissing the connection between yesterday and today. The American Pyschological Association notes that sleep is necessary for a person’s health and brain function. Think about how a night of poor sleep – or a night of drinking – impacts your focus and productivity the following day. It is not pretty.
I started thinking about these things and what I could do differently that would have a positive impact on my morning. I finally decided that I needed to make a few changes and so I did.
Going back to the question about starting your day. My answer now is that I start my day the night before and so should you.
When you realize that today IS connected to yesterday. It makes you think differently about your week, month and year. Changing a few habits begins to create incremental successes in anything you choose. There is power in incremental successes because they add up to larger successes.
Mornings are typically the best time of day to nurture your creativity. Your mind is sharpest and you are free from distractions.
I have a simple 5-step method you can employ that will have a huge impact on your day. All you need to do is set-up nighttime routine that creates momentum for the morning. It is actually simple to do.
- Create A Plan (15 – 30 minutes) – You may want to do this at the end of your workday or right before you go to bed. This is your road map and it avoids getting you caught up in short-term focused distractions. This also eliminates the morning anxiety about jumping into your task list.
- Electronics (1 hr before bed) – Turn these off if you want to good nights rest. There are numerous studies that point to the negative effects of technology on sleep and brain patterns. Put the devices away and set yourself up for a restful sleep.
- Routine (30 minutes) – Create a bedtime routine. This should be your flossing, brushing, face washing, etc. Having a routine prepares your mind for relaxing and ultimately sleeping. Take the time to set out your clothes. Pack your work/workout bag and put it near the door. Remember to place your phone, wallet and keys in a spot where you can find them. A routine helps you remember to do everything you need to do.
- Read (30 Minutes) – I suggest something entertaining and light. I find biographies are an excellent way to end the day. You might also pick something fictional or fantastical. Whichever you decide, make sure it is unrelated to work or engaging your active mind.
- Sleep – You should go to sleep as soon as you feel tired, which means you may only read for 15 minutes. Before you know it you’ll be off to sleep and rested for the morning.
You’ve heard Einsten say that the world exists as a result of our thinking. Changing the world involves changing how we think about and approach life. Let’s change our thinking and create a positive foundation for tomorrow. It helps us be more relaxed and focused. It also eliminates the morning rush, the late start and in the moment distractions that keep us from the important work we have set out to accomplish: telling excellent stories.
What adjustments do you need to make to your nightly routine? Leave it as a comment below and inspire others to make changes.
Photo by Wayne Grazio
“In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.”
– Nikos Kazantzakis
*|FNAME|*! Powerful insight! An interesting idea for us to wrap our brains around. Daily we send ourselves constructive or destructive messages that are getting through to our subconscious.
In a study conducted by Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina, she concluded that people who were more positive opened themselves up to new possibilities, which created positive results throughout their lives.
I can attest to that! I have spent parts of my life perpetuating negative thoughts about my worth and what I can and cannot achieve. I’d tell myself, ”You can’t do that!”, “You’ll fail!” or “What is the point?” The wildest part about those thoughts is they were true, because I told myself they were true. I finally woke up to the realization that I was holding myself back (always my own worst enemy, right!) and I needed to adjust my seemingly automatic behavior.
I did just that! I adopted a morning routine that includes a daily affirmation. I admit that I have yet to experience an instantaneous shift, but I’ve noticed small daily changes, which I count as a success. The self-deprecating thoughts still enter my mind, but I can catch them quicker before they take root. Another added benefit, less resistance to tasks that previously overwhelmed me. This is simply because I view them with a positive outlook, which makes them manageable.
There is truth to the idea that our thoughts create and sculpt the person we are. Changes usually begins in small unnoticeable ways that add up to a significant shift. Carefully watch your thoughts, they determine your destiny. Now when I want to succeed at anything, I set my mind right to take the first step.
What inspirational thoughts do you want to tell yourself today? If you feel like sharing, scroll down and leave it as a comment.
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"Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that's easy. What's hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple awesomely simple, that's creativity."- Charles Mingus Thank you Charles. It's always a brilliant reminder to keep things simple. In the world of the internet there...
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“A life spent working towards something you love is a life worth living” - Molly McIntyre
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"I’ve learned from experience that if you work harder at it, and apply more energy and time to it, and more consistency, you get a better result. It comes from the work." -Louis C. K.
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“Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.”
– Miguel Angel Ruiz
If I can give you one piece of advice it would be to avoid the flu! I caught it and it was nasty. I’ve been out of commission the last few weeks. I was getting so discouraged and frustrated because it was taking forever to start feeling better. I can remember one specific moment where I hit a low point. I woke up exhausted after a full night’s sleep, my body ached, I was congested and had absolutely no appetite. I just knew that something needed to change or I would never get better. I took a quick inventory of my habits and I discovered that I was placing pressure on myself to keep up my level of output. The stress I was putting on myself was making everything worse. The more I thought about it, if I felt that bad after a full night sleep, I needed to make a change and double down on getting better. I immediately started focusing on rest and recuperating. I started napping, which helped me feel better. I doubled my soup and water intake. It still took me over another week to start feeling better. Can you imagine how long it would have taken had I not started resting more?
This was an important lesson for me to learn. Making consistent progress should always be a priority, however, never at the expense of my health. The level of output and quality of work will change related to my health. I should be happy doing my best, but understanding that my best ultimately depends on my health.
I’d love to hear from you. Let me know how you handle being sick scroll down and leave it as a comment. Want these delivered directly to your inbox? Subscribe to our mailing list.
“A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor.”
I saw this quote and I immediately connected with it! I can remember many moments during my long journey – working in theatres and on marketing programs – the myriad of issues that I encountered. It could be something as simple as the numbers not balancing at the end of the day – which was 2 AM – to the drunk guy smashing the light fixtures in the bathroom and claiming he didn’t do it despite the blood dripping from his hand (true story). There was also that time the marketing program I’d been working on for a couple weeks fell apart or the project that I couldn’t confirm with a client because a colleague didn’t communicate the appropriate information. All of these issues were annoying at minimum.
I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, which is why my frustrations over the past are virtually non-existent. You can’t change the experience and it’s helped shape who you are today. Each of these challenging moments tempers us bit-by-bit. They make you better prepared to deal with the challenges that you’ll encounter in the future. Experience builds on experience and in the end you’ll make better decisions.
Remember this next time you get writers block, your deal falls through, your marketing program is cancelled or you encounter a plethora of on-set issues that these all have a purpose. They are there to make you a better filmmaker, actor or creative professional. Once you see it this way, you’ll be better equipped to accept and work through the challenge in front of you. One day you’ll look back and see that all those bumps along the way shaped the person you see in the mirror today.
I’d love to hear from you. Reply to this email and let me know what challenges you’ve recently conquered. If you feel like sharing, leave it as a comment.
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