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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

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,

Samantha

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

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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