Set Your Day’s Pace – Before Putting on Your Socks

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Set Your Pace!

Lately I’ve noticed a trend in my ability to concentrate, be productive, and have more energy throughout the day (hence the recent articles related to energy levels). Just as a swimmer or sprinter may attribute his loss to a slow start at the sound of the gun, I attribute my snail-like pace throughout the day to a slow start at the buzzer… from my alarm clock.

If you are like most people, you need an alarm to get up in the morning. Are you a snoozer? Are you a chronic snoozer – smacking the perpetrator 5 to 10 times in the morning? Do you set your alarm early, just so you can snooze? In short, does your alarm clock fear for its life every time it goes off (at your request)?

I’m not sure about you, but for me, how I start my morning is a huge determinate for having a successful and productive day!

The Early Bird Gets the Work (Done)

Let’s get this point clear: I am NOT a morning person. Some may argue against this because when they see me in the morning I may appear alert and ‘chirpy’, but that’s only because I’ve been up for hours already. They don’t get to witness the wildebeest at the chiming of my alarm.

That being said, during the weekdays, I tend to wake up before most birds (and their worms) because I like the results that I see. I like the solitude, the tranquility, and gradual transformation as the world comes alive. And there is nothing like having a full workout to start your day. I like to imagine the sun slowly showing its face with an expression of haughty confusion or surprise as if to say ‘What the hell? You can’t start the day until I say so!’ This is usually where I tell the sun to shove it and continue with my morning routine.

When it comes to waking up, I have two types of mornings:

Morning 1:

It all starts at the sound of the buzzer. It’s before 5am, and dark. One eye opens to take a quick peak, but just long enough to locate, target, and take a wide swing at the noisy disturbance. Unfortunately, I had been lying on my arm and the now dead peripheral is unwilling to take the trajectory I had set for it. It collides with the side of the alarm and launches it off the nightstand and onto the floor. Wonderful. Now I’m unable to reset my snooze-time and HAVE to get up.

I slowly get out of bed, take a long shower, eat slowly, and my mind remains groggy longer into the day. When I finally DO get working, I’m easily distracted and would rather be entertained than spend the energy to create a unique thought.

How often do your days start like this one?

Moring 2:

The buzzer sounds and I gently tap the snooze button to ensure I’ll be awoken if I fall back asleep, but today I have no intent of doing so. I do a quick stretch of the limbs and throw my head from side to side, and start thinking about my goals for the day and remind myself again of the promise I made to myself the night before – not to let ‘the voice’ win and sleep five more minutes. I throw my legs over the side, roll on to the floor and continue to stretch my muscles for a bit. After about fifty push-ups and sit-ups, I put on my gym clothes and am out the door in 15 minutes flat.

Both days start at the same time, and although they look similar on the outside, what is lacking from the story is the internal dialogue that goes on during these mornings. The mental dialogue upon awakening can be one of two things: an argument or a motivational speech. Which one do you have?

In Your Head, You Are NOT Alone

Waking up can be a struggle because your internal dialogue is not just you… there is someone else isn’t there? “The voice” that soothingly suggests you sleep just 5 minutes longer even when you know you can’t, the voice that advises you to blame your tardiness on traffic and hit the snooze again, the voice that tells you if you remove your covers you’ll be punished by the frigid air. Time and time again, we let this powerful voice win, while fully knowing that it isn’t him that has to pay the price, it is YOU that later pays up.

When you are first coming into consciousness, you are in a bridging state where the conscious mind meets the subconscious mind and you are not fully alert (wiki: the Alpha Brain Waves). In this state, your subconscious (or emotional side of the brain) has more authority over your thoughts than when you are fully awake. The emotional side of your brain is aware of the body’s comfort, the secure feeling of the bed, current fatigue, and it slowly infiltrates your thoughts to persuade your rational brain that this is what YOU want.

Typically, I encourage trusting your ‘intuition’ from the emotional side of your brain, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always know what’s best and this is one of those times.  On occasion, when I listen to this voice, I’m known to sleep ten or more hours and wake up feeling even more tired than I was the night before – I call this a sleep hangover.  Too much of a good thing usually has some consequences!

Setting the Pace – 10 Steps

So, how do I (try) to set my pace in the morning?  In actuality, it starts the night before…

The Night Before:

  1. I organize my schedule for the next day (I’m sure you do this already).
  2. I get everything of importance out of my head and put it somewhere safe so I can tell my mind to stop wandering as I try to sleep.  Do a braindump, make a to-do list, or simply make a bulleted record of whatever is bouncing around in my head.
  3. I get everything I need prepared for the morning so I can be ready in minimal time.
  4. I set at least THREE distinct goals or priorities for the next day and I vow not to do anything else before these three goals are completed. Today’s were 1) Write this article 2) work on client’s website (I have specific tasks), and 3) spend time researching for my new eBook. I’m still on number 1!
  5. I set a PURPOSE for my morning. This is usually something unique to give me an urgency/challenge/task to get my butt out of bed or stimulate my mind. Today’s purpose was to beat my brother to the gym!  I was out the door by 5am and he still beat me. Punk.

The Morning (and Day) of:

  1. Upon awakening, I remind myself of what I promised myself the night before. I tell the soft voice rationalizing to sleep longer to shut up and quickly turn on the light before he uses his weird voodoo mind tricks on me.
  2. Most days, I start off my morning with a full workout or at least a run. (I do this before I eat so my body starts burning off my energy reserves first (fat) and not the energy I consume.)
  3. I eat breakfast. Energy booster and gets my metabolism started!
  4. Before I begin working, I make sure I put away distractions. Distraction are unique to each person – for me, I close all browser windows that are related to social media, news, or email. I close all documents except the ones I am working on. I set my workspace up for success then I typically close my eyes and focus on the next task before I begin.
  5. I don’t check my email until my #1 Goal for the day is completed. (I cheat on occasion… okay, fairly often, but I’m working on it!)

The main idea behind these techniques is simple: Create a Ritual that works for YOU.  Remember, when most of us first awake, we are not fully ‘there’ and having a personal auto-pilot can be a big factor in pushing us forward when we feel resistance.

This routine works for me, try it out or make your own!

What does your morning ritual look like?  What do you feel is the MOST important thing you do daily to get your day started right?

 

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Greg has written 69 articles on Student of Me.

Greg is the creator and primary writer for Student of Me. He probably spends way too much time on the computer writing, researching, programming, and working on his photography. He loves escaping from screen-time to travel, ride his motorcycle, experience the outdoors and spend time with loved ones. You can contact him at greg (at) studentofme.com!

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