5 Morning Habits to SPARK Your Success!
How you spend your morning can set off a trajectory for how your day unfolds! And while you can't control outside events, you CAN take steps to prepare yourself for anything. If you aspire to be a SPARK leader – someone who ignites the SPARK in others – self-awareness and taking steps that support your best and highest self are imperative.
Having a morning ritual is important for many reasons. Just like opening the cover of a book to begin another chapter, morning ritual creates a framework for the events of the day. A morning ritual builds the practice of mindfulness and focus – which more and more studies are revealing are key ingredients to amp performance and productivity. And the good news is that a ritual can take as little as five minutes in case you are wondering if you need to set your alarm two hours earlier than usual. Trust me, I'm a huge believer in getting enough Z's!
What makes a ritual different from another “to do” on your list is that it is:
- isn’t meant to “accomplish” anything (other than being present)
- has a definitive beginning to mark this time as “special”
- has a definitive ending
To create a beginning or “start” to your ritual you may want to light a candle, ring a bell, close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. Create a space – a corner of a room, out in nature – or anywhere you will feel centered and not be disturbed. Wherever you choose, designate this as your ritual space that is not used for anything else. End your ritual by reversing the beginning process (i.e., blow out the candle, ring a bell, etc.) Here are some ritual ideas: meditate, visualize, breathing exercises, sing, chant, inspirational reading, tapping or EFT. I often use a deck of inspirational cards and randomly choose one to set the tone for the day! http://www.paulagrosario.com/store/p3/Zen_of_Stress_Soul_Intention_and_Inspired_Action_Card_Deck.html
Getting a jump on the day can make all the difference. Allow extra time for the unplanned events like traffic, delayed trains or an extra, long line at the coffee shop. When I was commuting to the city on a daily basis, I gave myself a 15 minute head start in the morning and it actually made a huge difference in driving time.
Doing this helps keep your energy from becoming frenetic right off the bat. There’s nothing worse than running into the office with just a couple of minutes to spare and already feeling like you can’t catch up! Personally, I had found that quiet time at my desk before co-workers arrived, created a space between me and whatever issues would occur during the day so my thought process and responses were better thought out.
Try a digital diet! Most of us are inclined to check the cell phone, iPad or laptop in the same motion as grabbing the toothbrush or plugging in the coffee maker. We’re in a rush to get the latest news and check our email inboxes. So why is it smart to resist and delay the email fix first thing in the morning? Studies have shown it can increase your energy, positive outlook and boost productivity. There’s even a book dedicated to this concept, Never Check Email In The Morning, by Julie Morgenstern.
Now I know this is a tough one. It’s like the monkey on your back that keeps jumping up and down nagging at you that your inbox is about to explode if you don’t check it NOW! So as far as the primate, practicing mindfulness will help with that. And for waiting to check email, start small. Try delaying email checking until you get to the office – so no checking at home or on your commute.
Do this for a couple of days and then add a 30- minute delay AFTER you get to the office. To help with this, before you leave the office the night before, leave a check list or tasks to accomplish on your desk for you to do in the morning. This can help delay the urgent feeling of having to get to email. After a couple of more days, add an additional 30 minutes to that. I understand you have a lot of responsibility and you need to have your finger on the pulse, but let’s be honest, Rome won’t burn to the ground if you don’t check email till 10 a.m.! Good luck….it will be worth it!
When was the last time you scheduled a playdate with yourself? SPARK leaders schedule themselves into their calendars. And they do it several times a day! Pushing through a day with no breaks, back-to-back meetings and no lunch is a quick path to BURNOUT.
And, it won’t make your more productive or necessarily prove that you are dedicated. Being dedicated to you (not your job) is the best way to climb the ladder because you will be operating at your best and highest self. It’s easier to put your time into the calendar if you look at it month by month. By creating your calendar a month or two in advance, you are already accounted for and you just need to plot meetings AROUND your time. A simple way of doing this is to put in a 15 minute break every two hours and be sure to take a lunch break.
During these times, get up from your desk, walk around, drink lots of water and go out and smell fresh air if you can. Try to leave a 20 – 30 minute gap between other scheduled meetings. This “between time” can be used for some “you” time and to catch up on those emails you were dying to answer!
If you are a leader (of course you are!) or aspiring to a leadership position within a company or even being a business owner, it’s obvious that how you engage with others is crucial to success. Make others aware of your plan. Invite them to be involved. Engage staff in a challenge or brainstorm of the most creative ways to ramp up their energy, productivity and fun. Create a way to acknowledge and celebrate everyone’s SPARK success!
Paula G. Rosario
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