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Today, let's stoke a sense of early morning productivity that will continue to radiate into the rest of the day.
“I am my greatest priority.”
Tomorrow is not guaranteed (at least in this body).
Death comes for us all. So why not invite today to be the next best day of our life!?
Remembering the impermanence of all things, especially our skin and bones, inspires us to show up with attention for whatever the day beholds and reminds us of the importance of prioritizing what is most important.
American Buddhist teacher • founding director of the Zen Hospice Project • author of The Five Invitations
Death is not waiting for us at the end of a long road. Death is always with us, in the marrow of every passing moment, a secret teacher hiding in plain sight, helping us to discover what matters most in life.
How about you?
How does remembering the impermanence of your one wild, precious life inspire you to be a productive steward of your time?
The most important thing is to remember the most important thing.
We are well aware of the power of an effective to-do list. What is most important about our to-do list is to list the most important to-dos!
Author of My Morning Routine
Having a to-do list and sticking to it is the number one thing you can do to increase your overall focus and productivity, period.
We are most fresh and clear-headed in the mornings (if are well-rested), and so what is most important surfaces easier.
This is why I enjoy writing my daily to-dos at the end of my morning journaling sesh. This daily morning ritual primes me into the receptive mode of who I am and what I want.
Many also advocate for writing out a to-do list for the next day at the end of our workday, so the moment we sit down to work we have it right in front of us.
Everything we do is because we think we will feel better in the doing or having of it.
Spending time prioritizing to-dos is a wonderful opportunity to remember and prioritize how we want to-be. Next time we engage with a to-do list, let's see it for the magical manifestation tool it is and intentionally create the life we want with it!
Creating a to-do list liberates our mind from worrying about important tasks, as writing them down guarantees that you'll remember.
Judge Jeremy Fogel shares that every morning he “reflect[s] on what actually needs to be done (as opposed to the multitude of things that make demands on my time) and how best to accomplish that.”
A to-do list is most effective when we prioritize the items on it and, once prioritized, do the most important tasks first.
For our to-do list to function correctly we must do our most important work first. You likely already know what this is for you at the moment and it will certainly change over time. Keep in mind, that perhaps the most important task is making our bed if we know that it will increase the chances of getting the “bigger” things done.
- Start with what is most important to you.
- Keep it short (you can always add more, plus an overloaded list often leads to overwhelm).
- Add some easy tasks for some quick wins (doesn't it feel good to cross out a completed task!? …
☐ make the bed).
- Practice makes progress! Enjoy the process of fine-tuning your own to-do & to-be lists in ways that make you feel good and set you up for more success throughout the day.
How about you?
What is one way you enjoy remembering and prioritizing your to-do's & to-be's?
Checking email, news, or social media first thing in the morning spells disaster for our early morning productivity.
When we check our email or social media first thing upon waking we're stressing our brain by jolting information-heavy data into our psyche that doesn't actually align with who we are and what is most important to us.
Not checking email and social outlets makes it easier to stay in control of our thoughts.
Checking email, social media, news outlets, etc … makes us reactive instead of proactive, as we're focusing on the needs of others instead of addressing our own. This is true whether we're employed or self-employed.
Do not let anyone get between you and your most important tasks for the day.
Courageous boundaries can be hard to gracefully implement at first. However, they are often followed by a wellspring of enthusiastic energy—ready for you to pour into whatever is most important to you.
Mornings prime your brain for how it will function the rest of the day. Are you going to be distracted and bounce around from project to project? Or are you going to be focused and choose your activities consciously and with intention? I much prefer to be in the latter state. I get more work done and it turns out better. I'm less stressed and less reactive. So I do what I can to keep my mornings simple and uncluttered.
How about you?
How are you inspired to replace reactive morning activities (email, social media, news) with proactive ones (journaling, exercising, meditating)?
Read aloud with purpose and intent:
“I am a receptive and proactive being.
I notice when a stress response makes me reactive.
My body is an anchor that grounds me back into the present moment.
I take a deep breath to quiet the critical mind and release what does not serve me.
I lovingly accept what is.
I see more clearly who I am and remember what is most important to me.
I prioritize serving my Self first so that I can serve others with joyous alignment.
I do not let anything get between me and my most important tasks for the day.
I pour my precious productive energy into things that make my soul sing.”
with Ryan Holiday
Bestselling author of Trust Me, I'm Lying; The Obstacle Is the Way; Ego Is the Enemy; Conspiracy and other books
Ryan, what is your morning routine?
“One of the best pieces of advice I've gotten comes from Shane Parrish. It's simple: If you want to be more productive, get up early.
So I get up around 8:00 A.M. and I have one other simple rule: Do one thing in the morning before checking email. It could be showering, it could be going for a long run, it could be jotting some thoughts down in my journal. It's usually writing. Most mornings I try to write for one to two hours before I start the rest of the day (and the to-do list I made the day before).
I shower, get ready, and head downstairs to my office/ library to sit and write. The way I see it, after a productive morning in which I accomplish my big things, the rest of the day can be played by ear. It's all extra from there.”
Making the bed is an easy early “win” that sets the day up for more clarity, focus, and productivity.
Making our bed as we roll out of it is a simple way to wake up the mind, get the blood flowing, and get us ready for the day ahead. It also reduces your chances of climbing back into it 😉
Collaborative social worker skilled in trauma-informed care, program management, and cross-cultural work.
When the bed is made I feel like my world is clean and orderly and I can focus all my attention on my work.
Make the first task of your day easy to accomplish.
There's a reason why the military insists on soldiers making their beds every morning; it instills a sense of discipline and planning into the day—first thing!
Admiral William McRaven
commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and author of Make Your Bed and The Hero Code
It is the simplicity. I think it is also the amount of time that it takes to make your bed. It doesn't take an hour to do, and yet you get this sense of accomplishment. The difference between going out for a 30-minute or an hour run or doing an hour's worth of weight training or going off and doing an hour of meditation — this takes you a couple of minutes. Some things are hard to do in the morning, and I think those are important, too. I mean, if you can get up every morning and do your run or do your PT that's great as well, but if you're not one of those persons still it's good to start off with a simple task that moves you forward.
What if, despite your best efforts, mornings just aren't your most productive time of day?
Good to know! Productivity works best when it's not forced. Enthusiastic energy allows us to flow downstream rather than forced disciple that often feels like swimming upstream. Just because most people claim mornings are when they are most productive, does not mean it's true for you. Perhaps you're a night owl and things align for you to enjoy productive flow later in the day. This is worthy of noticing and honoring.
Finding what feels good.
In finding what works for you, go in with eyes wide open and with the dedication to experimenting. Exploring polar opposite ways of working can be incredibly insightful. Give everything you experiment with adequate time before moving on to an opposing path, and equally, give this new path the time it deserves.
The best routine is your own.
In nearly any endeavor, especially crafting our sacred morning routine, we should always find what works for us, not for anyone else. There is no one else quite like you so while we explore a variety of inspired morning routines from others, you deserve a unique morning routine that is adapted specifically for you.
Most of us realize we're more productive at certain times of the day, but a key to benefiting from this information is being able to identify those times and adapt our schedule accordingly. Pay attention to the times when you're at peak productivity.