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15 Things Highly Successful People Do At The Beginning Of The Day That You Should, Too

15 Things Highly Successful People Do At The Beginning Of The Day That You Should, Too
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What you do when you wake up in the morning sets the tone for the entire day.

And yet, if you are like most people, you spend it battling your alarm, anxious about what the day holds, distracted by things you know you should do later, yelling at your kids to hurry up, grabbing a quick cup of coffee, and then rushing out the door. You carry the shadow of these feelings with you throughout the day, and this limits your ability to be a successful leader.

Here are 15 things that successful people do at the beginning of the day to set them up for a great day.

1. They meditate to lower stress.

Did you know that the most stressful time of the day is actually first thing in the morning? This is when our cortisol levels are the highest, which is partially responsible for things like morning rage. Meditation can help you clear away these feelings and center your mind to start the day in a calm place.

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2. They reflect on what they stand for.

To be a successful leader, you need to make decisions from your core set of beliefs and what character traits you want to cultivate. This may not always be easy to remember in the heat of the moment. Spend a minute or two each morning reminding yourself of these values, and what they mean to you: “I am kind; I am compassionate; I see the best in others; I make decisions quickly.”

3. They plan their day.

This can be done either the night before or the morning of. Check your list of To Dos and upcoming appointments, and figure out what are the most important actions for your day. Schedule them out, with a bit of buffer time. Make sure to plan only what will fit, and no more!

4. They check their email—but only for a set amount of time.

It’s important to check in with your team at the beginning of the day to make sure that everyone has what they need to have a fulfilling, productive day. However, don’t “fall” into an email pit and spend the whole morning on email: set a time limit (say, 1 hour) and address only the most important emails at that time.

5. They don’t get caught up in drama.

You may find some incendiary emails in your inbox, and be tempted to jump into the fray. Don’t. Remember, the beginning of your day is your time to set the tone for the day. Focus on the big-picture priorities and vision, and leave the drama resolution to a lower-priority time of the day, where it belongs.

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6. They stretch.

We need our bodies to perform a variety of functions for us throughout the day, so give your body a stretch first thing in the morning to get it ready for what’s ahead. This is especially crucial if you are going to be sitting at a desk all day.

7. They pay attention to their partners.

Remember that your partner is preparing for their day, too. They might need a few words of encouragement from you, or a quick back rub to relax (see #1), and a few minutes of your attention can make all the difference in the world. Remember, “successful” doesn’t just mean at work.

8. They pick up after themselves.

There is something relaxing and recharging about coming home after a long day’s work to a clean home. While it may be tempting to leave that outfit you decided not to wear on the bed, or your dirty dishes on the counter, you will pay the energetic price for it later. So take the extra 30 seconds and straighten up after yourself.

9. They leave plenty of time.

If you start your day by rushing around and stressing out that you are going to be late, that will be the tone you set for the rest of your day. Is that really how you want your day to go? Instead, get up plenty early, honor your time commitments, and get out the door when you say you will.

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10. They “plant the seeds” for tough projects.

Take a look at your schedule and anticipate what the most challenging parts will be. Start to mentally prepare yourself, and reflect on the open questions that need answering. Your subconscious brain will continue to think about these things throughout the day, and will often come up with the solutions for you.

11. They take their vitamins.

For many people, the morning is the most consistent time of the day, and so lends itself well to doing daily tasks like taking your vitamins, or remembering to give your pets their medications.

12. They avoid distractions.

As tempting as it might be to pop in on Facebook or get that one remaining chore done, it’s usually a good idea to eliminate distractions so that you can focus on the important work of creating your day. Schedule time for those later.

13. They think of what they are grateful for.

It’s easy to think about everything that stresses you out, but the truth is likely that you have far more things to be grateful for than you have things to be worried about. Remind yourself of this each morning by thinking of at least 5 things that you are grateful for. You will start your day happier and more confident that life really is good.

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14. They drink water.

After not drinking anything while sleeping, your body is actually more dehydrated than you might think. Down a glass of water first thing in the morning, and you will be surprised how much that impacts your sense of physical well-being.

15. They make it all a habit.

Habits are all about efficiency. If you do the same routine day in and day out, not only will you get the results you want, but you also will spend less mental energy doing that routine because it has become automatic. That mental energy can be used for the important pursuits in your life.

Which one or two items from this list will YOU implement in your mornings? Write a note and share.

Love,

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Samantha

Featured photo credit: Wiertz Sebastien – back to Kung Fu/Wiertz Sebastien via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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