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5 Keys to a Great Morning

5 Keys to a Great Morning

I don’t know about you, but the most important part of my day is my morning. I typically wake up around 5:15–5:30AM and what happens right after I wake up through the next few hours has significant impact on the rest of the day until I go to bed.

I had a period of time in my mid 20s where I found myself stressed and frustrated when I would arrive at work.  When I took a step back, I realized the root of my stress and frustration were things that were happening between the time I woke up and arrived to work. I made one specific change that significantly changed my mornings moving forward. Since that time, I have tried to be very intentional with my morning routine and as a parent, the morning routines of my children. This stuff will change your life, one morning at a time!

Here are my 5 keys to a great morning.

1. Get Some Sleep

I’ve noticed I am most insecure, over-sensitive, and off my game when I don’t get enough sleep. I need between seven and eight hours of sleep for me to wake-up and be at what I feel is a productive mental and emotional place to start my day. Anything less and I struggle a bit to clear the “cob webs.” As I mentioned above, the probability of insecurity increases, so I end up feeling less confident. I know the only way I am going to reach my goals and live the life I want to live is to be confident. I need sleep and so do you! Our bed time is one thing, quality of sleep is another thing. Click here for Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep. How much sleep do you need to wake up as your best self?

2. Give Yourself Enough Time

Give yourself enough time in the morning to do what you want to do. If every morning you are feeling stressed and rushed, then you need to change something, either your routine or the time you allow for your routine. Your mornings don’t need to be like that. I get it: life is busy, you have places to go, people to see, and maybe you have kids. None of that is a valid excuse, because you are in control whether you admit it or not.

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Take control of your morning by jotting down your ideal morning routine and consider how much time each item in your routine takes. My ideal morning routine might look like this:

– Wake up, restroom, eat granola bar, drink some water (5 minutes)

– Get dressed for the gym (5 minutes)

– Pack work clothes (10 minutes)

– Get out the door stuff  (10 minutes)

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– Drive to the gym (15 minutes)

– Workout (60 minutes)

– Shower, get dressed, leave gym (30 minutes)

– Drive to work while grabbing breakfast (20 minutes)

According to my estimated times above, my ideal morning routine will take me 2 hours and 35 minutes. If I want to be at work by 8:00AM every single day, I better be waking up no later than 5:25AM (and go to bed by 10:30PM the night before). If I hit snooze three times or try to fit everything in waking up at 6AM, my day is going to start off with me feeling stressed and rushed. Give yourself enough time to start your morning off right.

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3. Be the Master of Your Morning

If you follow my recommendation above and outline your ideal morning routine you can compare it to what you are actually doing.  What is your current morning routine and is it setting you up for success? If you Google “What do successful people do in the morning?” you will find links to articles that outline the morning habits of successful people.  As you are reading them, pay close attention to how intentional these people are and why.  Pay attention to the patterns you will see as you read about different people.  Be the master of your morning!

4. Eat Well

I sit on our wellness committee at work and we recently had a speaker do a lunch and learn on the topic of “Peak Energy.”  She talked about a lot of things, but one of the things that stuck out to me was the foods we put in our body.

She said one of the biggest challenges educators face is children not eating the right foods in the morning to set them up for success the rest of the day.  She used the example of children who eat sugary cereals or regularly eat things like Pop Tarts to start their day.  They come to school amped up on sugar and without getting the proper nutrients for their brains and body to function for peak performance.

As adults, we are not different.  We must fuel our bodies with the right things to help us perform in a healthy, efficient, and productive manner the rest of the day.What are you putting in your body to start the day? Click here to read about The 20 Best Foods to Eat for Breakfast.

5. Pay Attention to the Right Things

In the first paragraph, I talked about a time in my mid 20s where I was feeling stressed and frustrated when I would get to work.  I said I made one change that changed everything moving forward.

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That change was what I was paying attention to in the morning.  In my 20s I was on a save-the-world mission and was very opinionated on a number of social topics. During my morning drive from the gym to my work, I would listen to talk radio.  The program I would listen to was all about discussing various social topics, many of which I was passionate about.

During my drive I would find myself becoming frustrated and emotionally involved in the conversation and there were times I called in to voice my perspective.  On many days I would become come irritated to the point I would still be feeling it when I arrived at work.

As soon as I realized it, I stopped listening and switched to a light-hearted and very funny sports morning show.  My mornings have never been the same and not only am I very intentional with what I pay attention to in the mornings, I’m also very intentional with my children and what they are exposed to in the morning.  With my five year old son, if he wants to watch TV, it has to be certain shows that are focused on learning rather than others things a five year old little boy is drawn to.

When I take my children to school, the environment is very calm, nurturing, and positive.  I might ask what their goals are for the day.  I might remind them of the benefits of making everyone around them better.  Or maybe we’ll just rock out to some music.

Be mindful of what gets your attention in the morning and the impact it has on your spirit as you are kicking off your day.

I want you to be secure, confident, and fulfilled in your life.  I want each day to be meaningful for you.  I know the best way to do that is to feel good about yourself and the world around you.  How we start our days off can have significant impact on how we show up and our quality of life. You have the opportunity to make each morning great!

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Last Updated on April 11, 2019

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

How Communication Skills Help Your Success

Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

Create a Positive Experience

Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

Help Leadership Skills

It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

Build Better Teams

Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

1. Listen

Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

2. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

Here is a good way to think about it:

Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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3. Minimize

I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

4. Over Communicate

So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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5. Body Language

The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

Conclusion

Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

Now go communicate your way to success.

More Resources About Effective Communication

Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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