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Do You Have A Morning Ritual?

Do You Have A Morning Ritual?

    This article is the 3rd in the 6-part series, Lifehack Challenge: Become An Early Riser In 5 Days. If you’d like to join, leave a comment that includes your promised wake-up time. The hard part is actually getting out of bed!

    Do you have a morning ritual? For years my grandfather started his day the exact same way. At 4:30am he’d wake, put on his bathrobe, walk to the kitchen and put two eggs on to boil. Then he’d put on a pair of slippers (or boots in the winter) and walk to the end of his very long driveway to pick up the day’s newspaper.

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    When he arrived back at the kitchen, he’d pour the boiling water off the eggs to make coffee. (Kinda gross, but it worked for him.) By the time the coffee was ready, the eggs had cooled enough to eat with a slice of well-jammed bread as he read the entire paper.

    This week’s challenge is about rising early. But more than rising early, it’s about rediscovering productivity at the start of your day. You need not wake at the crack of dawn in order to have a productive start to your day. But you do need to take a close look at how you start your day and figure out how to get more from it. Establishing a morning ritual is one good way to do just that.

    Why a Morning Ritual?

    A morning ritual is something you do every day as part of your morning. My grandfather enjoyed egg water coffee over a newspaper as part of his morning ritual. You might enjoy yoga, singing ABBA tunes at the top of your lungs, or sipping coffee in quiet reverie. What you choose to do doesn’t matter as much as why you do it and what you get out of doing it repeatedly. There are some specific benefits to maintaining a morning ritual:

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    • A morning ritual gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. We all need something to get out of bed for! Once you’ve found the right mix of action and stillness, sound and silence that gets your day off to a perfect start you’ll never want to miss out on your ritual.
    • It becomes as much a habit as getting out of bed at a certain time. Your alarm goes off and there’s no need to think about what you’ll do next. You simply do what you always do.
    • Starting your day with a few simple tasks is an easy way to begin a cycle of results that’ll power you through your day. Something as small as a nicely made bowl of oatmeal may not seem like a big accomplishment until you’re having a hard day and realize that going through the motions of your morning ritual makes the day easier.
    • Your morning ritual will help you enjoy the luxury of time you’ve given yourself by rising at an appropriate time. (Notice I didn’t say “early.” You might be working on an evening ritual!)
    • A morning ritual is entirely about you. Sure, you’ll have to deal with other people at some point in your morning. If you’re lucky, you’ll get at least a few minutes of time just for you. This is your chance to center yourself and embrace your day instead of fleeing before it.

    Once you’ve decided that you’d like to have a more structured morning ritual, you’ll want to set aside some time to experiment with what works best for you. The easiest way to get such a block of time is by waking a bit earlier than you would otherwise.

    Getting Started

    Getting started with a morning ritual isn’t especially difficult because we each have things we’re already doing every morning. The thing to keep in mind with a morning ritual is that you’re hoping to achieve a certain state of mind in going through the motions of your morning.

    5 Steps to putting your morning ritual into place:

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    1. Draft a short list of the things you do each morning and what you’d like to add.
    2. Figure out how much time it’ll realistically take to do everything on your list.
    3. Adjust your wake time to accommodate your new ritual.
    4. Go through your list each morning for at least 2 mornings before making adjustments.
    5. Once your adjustments are made, enjoy!

    You can use these steps no matter what your perfect wake time. It might be good to have your list handy until you can get everything done through your brain’s early morning fog without issue. If part of your ritual involves exercise, that fog won’t stay around for long!

    Then What?

    Once you have the basics of your morning ritual in place, it’s time to optimize for increased productivity. Is there a personal project you’d like to get a head start on with a few minutes of focused attention each morning? Do you want to write a book, learn a foreign language, correspond via snail mail, or build a blog? We all know the value of putting time each day toward reaching a certain goal. The rhythm of your morning ritual will lend itself to daily participation in projects you might never get around to otherwise.

    Remember when you’d rush out of bed, barely shower, and head out the door on your way to work without noticing the world around you? Those stressful starts can be gone for mostly-ever if you’re willing to put the time and effort into creating a morning ritual that adds joy to your day. That’s what lifehacks are supposed to be about anyhow, yes? Figuring out the shortest path to a better life? I hope so.

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    If you have any tips to add or even a summary of your morning ritual, we’d love to read it!

    Here are a few links to readers blogging about their Lifehack Challenge experience.

    Want your blog included in an upcoming article? Make sure to include a link in your comment. I’ll pick a few to share with tomorrow’s post.

    Follow Lifehack on Twitter here

    Image: source

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    Last Updated on June 12, 2019

    Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

    Top 10 Ways to Lead More Effectively with Humor

    Humor and laughter provide so many rewards. Studies have shown 20 seconds of laughter yield the same benefits as 3 minutes of hard rowing. A Robert Half International study reported 84% of executives believe a worker with a good sense of humor does a better job. Incorporating humor more effectively in the workplace allows you to defuse difficult situations, reduce stress, create attention for new ideas, build rapport, and be a more approachable and memorable leader.

    With those benefits, it behooves you to hone your workplace comedic skills. So in the tradition of David Letterman, here are the top 10 ways to more effectively lead with humor!

    #10. Look for Joy in Life

    An important step is continually looking for joy throughout your life. This happens in a variety of ways:

    • Focus less on yourself and more on helping others. Need help? Read “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the classic by Dale Carnegie.
    • Laugh more – kids reportedly laugh 400 times per day vs. 15 times for adults. Aim for laughing 40 times daily to be at least 10% of your former self!
    • Regularly read humorous comic strips and look for quips and funny comments in your reading.
    • Even in challenging situations, hunt for something funny or humorous you can take away.

    #9. Learn What Makes You Laugh

    If you’re trying to laugh 40 times daily, it’s important to know what makes you laugh and have ready access to laugh-provokers. Figure out 107 things which make you laugh. Unrealistic? Hardly! Why 107? Because 107 is funnier than 100! Here’s a recipe for listing what makes you laugh by simply identifying:

    • 13 Movies
    • 11 TV Shows
    • 5 Words or Phrases
    • 19 Personal Stories
    • 5 Cartoons
    • 7 Audio or Video Pieces
    • 11 Comedians
    • 7 TV Personalities
    • 7 Funny Photos
    • 7 People You Know
    • 15 of Anything Else
    • TOTAL = 107 Funny Things

    Collect & save these humor starters in a “Smile File” when you quickly need a laugh or comedic inspiration.

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    #8. Use Your Own Comedic Material

    Personal experiences are the most genuine humor sources for effective leadership. Look for humor in situations from your own life:

    • Funny things you have said or others have said to you
    • Pratfalls, be they mental, interpersonal, & physical
    • Embarrassing moments or unexpected happenings
    • Times of change or learning
    • Difficult life events (yes, even these can be humor sources)

    When turning personal situations into comedic material, remember lessons learned from a childhood humor staple: Knock-Knock Jokes. These simple jokes work because the knock-knock structure highlights familiar situations, uses only essential words and phrases, and clearly signals a laughing opportunity. They also demonstrate how humor springs from surprise. The laughs come from not knowing who or what exactly is behind the door based on the initial response to “Who’s there?”

    #7. Adapt Somebody Else’s Material

    Beyond your own experiences, there’s a tradition of “borrowing & adapting” (I didn’t say stealing) funny stuff from others. That’s why old-time comedian Milton Berle was called the “Thief of Bad Gags.”

    Part of borrowing successfully is using easily accessible humor sources in ways many don’t consider. Beyond simply Googling “funny” in front of quotes, one-liners, definitions, pictures, or videos, here are two other common sources you can adapt:

    • Cartoons – You can use cartoons in various ways by showing one in a presentation, telling the cartoon’s story (potentially making yourself a character) without any images, or using its punch line as a starting point for new humor.
    • Comedians – Mainstream comedians’ jokes or catch phrases are another source to modify and adapt to your personality or work situation. Watch lots of comedians and learn how professionals do it so well.

    #6. Understand Your Audience

    Using humor in a leadership position requires understanding boundaries on its proper use. It all starts with really understanding your audience by:

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    • Paying attention to top management’s attitudes toward humor.
    • Knowing the audience’s composition – this directly affects which humor types are appropriate.
    • Loving your audience as much or more than you poke fun at them.
    • Inviting others into humor since you can’t assume they share your same humor sensibilities.

    In case you’re contemplating using ad lib humor, completely knowing your audience is even more vital. Ad-libs have the potential for going horribly wrong because audience sensibilities have been misjudged. It’s very beneficial to actually plan and rehearse ad libs. It may sound odd, but identify common work situations you encounter and think through what usually goes wrong or provides a source for potential humor. Work out some “safe” funny comebacks to use as “planned” ad libs.

    #5. Know the Rules and Boundaries

    There are blatant humor no-no’s in the workplace which are quite acceptable for an onstage comedian. At work, avoid harmful practical jokes or pranks, heavily sarcastic comments, and humor rooted in religious, sexual, ethnic, or racial themes. Think you know your work setting well enough to tread on this dangerous ground? Here’s some advice: DON’T. The way questionable humor will be perceived by a workplace audience is too much of an unknown to take big risks when your career is at stake.

    Use this checkpoint to actually see if your intended workplace humor is SAFE. To pass the SAFE test, all of these statements need to be true regarding your joke, comment, or image:

    • I can Say/Show this to my mother.
    • It wouldn’t Anger me if I were the butt of the joke.
    • This wouldn’t trigger an FCC violation
    • Everyone in the audience will be able to get it.

    With even a hint of one false answer, dramatically modify your idea or better yet, abandon it and start over.

    #4. Get over Yourself

    Effective leaders don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re comfortable laughing at themselves and letting others be funny as well. Leaders should become adept at appropriately using self-deprecating humor, i.e., self-directed humor downplaying your own talents, stature, or accomplishments

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    You don’t want to use self-deprecating humor on simply any topic, however. It’s most effectively & appropriately used in:

    • Situations where you’re comfortable & self-confident
    • Areas where your credibility & competence are clearly established
    • Ways that fit your known personality & sensibilities

    Remember – when trying to borrow someone else’s self-deprecating humor, you need to share that person’s perspective & situation. If not, it’s simply deprecating! I once heard a decidedly non-technical Marketing VP call out “data geeks” in the audience. While that’s what they called themselves, she wasn’t a part of their group, and her comment, intended to build affiliation, fell completely flat.

    #3. Need Humor Ideas? Just Look Around

    The workplace is filled with situations lending themselves to comedy. Humor springs from exaggeration, wordplay, misunderstandings, ambiguity, contradictions, paradoxes, pain, and inconsistencies. If you work in any type of business or organizational setting, there are plenty of these situations to go around!

    As a leader, it’s your role to use the proper opptunities to encourage and employ humor successfully by ensuring that:

    • Your humor makes others feel good about themselves.
    • Hurtful fun isn’t made of those less tenured than you in the organization.
    • You don’t use humor when agitated since it can lead to apparent meanness.

    #2. Surround Yourself with Joy

    If you’re looking for more joy and levity in leadership, surround yourself with joyful people. These are people who are funny, easily spur laughter, and routinely cheer people up through their presence.

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    Cultivate relationships with these types of people. Spend time with them, learn from their successful uses of humor, and emulate elements of their approaches that work for you.

    Beyond basking in the joy these people create, select 3 or 4 of them to be an informal comedy team. As your comedy team, solicit their opinions to help you generate and refine humor ideas. They can also provide perspectives on potentially questionable humor material that makes it through the SAFE test, but still feels like it might not be right for a workplace audience.

    #1. Dive into the Fun

    Ultimately, the most important part of successfully using humor as a leader is actually sharing it in the workplace. Here are a few final tips to keep in mind:

    • Practice your humor in appropriate, low-risk settings to find out what works before trying it out with a bigger audience.
    • Signal a laughing opportunity through your words, actions, and tone. It’s also a good practice to give people “permission” to laugh in the workplace.
    • Finally, be earnest in using humor; don’t focus on laughs so much as lightening and adding fun into work settings.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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