October 2017
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The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
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10 Ways to Start Your Day Right!

 

10 Ways to Start Your Day Right!

Have you ever thought your day doomed before you've even left home, or got to your office? The way we start our day can have a direct bearing not only on how it goes, but also on work-life balance, our productivity, and overall wellbeing.

Here are ten things you can do to take control of your day, right from the minute you wake up. Many successful CEO's around the world are doing one or more of these things every day, especially meditating which is taking on a whole new level of importance in the world of business. Looking after yourself first; making an investment in you before your company is the best thing you can do for your business.

  1. As soon as you wake up, get up and take three deep breaths to bring focus to yourself. If you can manage to start getting up earlier then this is also an excellent thing to do. Try going to bed a little earlier and always at the same time. It's a huge energy and positivity boost to be up and about early - you realize that all of a sudden you have more day to enjoy, more time to yourself and you are not playing catch-up right from the outset.
  2. Once you are out of bed, go to a window and if it's not open, open it and look at the outside world - smell the fresh air. Perhaps do a few stretches to loosen yourself up and get your blood circulating. Take joy in the new day - remind yourself there is a whole day in front of you to enjoy.
  3. Drink a glass of water - starting the day hydrated can work wonders for your concentration and prepare your body for the day.
  4. Smile - it may sound strange, but smiling (even if you are faking it) makes you more aware of your mood and can change a somewhat negative first-thing-in-the-morning attitude, into a positive one. It's also infectious, you'll find yourself doing it every morning and feeling great. Don't smile because you are happy, be happy because you smile!
  5. Being mindful is a powerful way to clear the mind and prepare the mind for a productive day. Walk your dog if you have one and focus completely on the walk; be in the moment rather than let your mind wander off into problem solving or planning. If you haven't got a dog, give all your attention to your family, or loved one. Whatever you do in the mornings try to be mindful and not operate on auto-pilot.
  6. Meditate or do yoga. As mentioned earlier, meditation is the most talked about activity of successful people. Ask Ellen DeGeneres or Jeff Weiner the CEO of LinkedIn - the latter diarizes meditation time every day.
  7. Enjoy a healthy, light, breakfast - coffee if you must, but green tea will be better for you. Never miss breakfast, you need the energy and you don't want to start snacking mid-morning.
  8. Exercise - this can be instead of meditating, or as well as. Many successful entrepreneurs do a regular morning workout to prepare themselves for their day.
  9. Spend a few minutes considering your big picture vision and strategies. It's always good to have a clear idea of where you are going and why.
  10. Think about your must-do's and create a short to-do list which focuses only on the key priorities of the day. Better to have a shorter to-do list you complete than a long one you don't manage to complete.

This may all sound a little new age, but it works. The time you spend on yourself getting the day off to a good start, will pay dividends in the success of your business. You'll be less stressed, on top of your game and all of a sudden, by putting yourself first, your work-life balance will be in positive territory.

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10 Ways to Start Your Day Right!

 

To-Do Lists - Making Them Effective

To-do lists have been around for eons and it's hard to nail down who the first person was who decided to make a list of all the things they needed to get done. And, it really doesn't matter - they have become a ubiquitous part of business life for good or bad. Go online and you can read articles by respected journalists and business leaders who are fans and equally as many who think the to-do list is detrimental to productivity.

One of the major positives about creating a To-Do list is that they provide structure to your day, or week or whatever period they cover. They also reduce anxiety because having a task floating around in your brain, popping into your consciousness over and over again can be like someone nagging you to take action. Parking the task into a To-Do list allows you to plan a time when you will take action.

Of course, having a To-Do list can itself take the place of a nagging boss, spouse, or your own conscience. On the upside, To-Do list items can be crossed off when you complete them and that's a very positive feeling!

Studies have shown that we perform better if we have written down the things we need to achieve; it gives them structure and provides a system. In a way, it gets the job out in the open for a good airing.

Make your to-do list more effective

  • Make your list time-sensitive and don't be tempted to load it up too much. Nothing is more de-motivating than a list that is daunting and is unfinished by the end of the set time period.
  • Don't create one-word tasks - providing detail makes it more likely you will take action. Instead of: Call Bill Jones at Acme Plumbing, write: Call Bill Jones at Acme Plumbing (1.250.xxx.xxxx) re: overdue invoice. Adding Bill's number makes it easier to make the call next time you see the item on your list.
  • Don't list massive projects, or be vague about what needs to be done. Instead of: Start Hassop's report, write: Create table of contents for Hassop's report.
  • Put a (C) or an (S) beside each item. C = complex; S = simple. Make a rule that for every 2 simple tasks you undertake, you will tackle a complex task. It's far too tempting to deal with all the easy stuff first and then be left with a mountain of tough jobs. Preferably, start your day with one of your complex to-do's - you have more energy earlier in the day and completing the task will provide motivation.
  • If it looks like you've bitten off more than you can chew, or something urgent has come up, don't be afraid to re-work your list and schedule tasks for another day. Physically do this as soon as you know you are not going to be able to cross everything off your list, so you are not demotivated.
  • If a To-Do list seems a little too vague for you, diarize each item on your list and set an 'appointment' in your daybook to deal with it.

Dealing with 'sticky' To-Do list items

If something doesn't get done on your To-Do list by the end of the day, it likely won't get done the following day either. It's a 'sticky' item - one that you might be avoiding. If an item has been stuck for more than 2-days, break it down into smaller, more manageable, tasks and make it your top priority for the following day. Sticky items interfere with your productivity - they prey on your mind, draining your energy.

Got-done and Don't Do Lists

Some people say To-Do lists are ineffective, or even detrimental to productivity and instead promote the use of 'Got-Done' lists. A list of achievements is certainly motivating, but why not use both?

While you're about it, why not add a third list, a 'Don't Do' list? You might add, “Don't go onto Facebook until noon" or “Don't check emails until the top of each hour." Of course, this list is one that doesn't need to change frequently, but it could certainly aid your productivity.

At the end of the day, you have to decide what works for you, but there is no doubt lists aid planning and planning helps structure your workload and your day. Used correctly To-Do lists are a way of systemizing your business and that almost always is a good thing.

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10 Ways to Start Your Day Right!

 

Coach's Corner - What are your intentions?

"What we speak comes to life…our words inform our action and empower our intentions." Oprah Winfrey, in an introduction to a meditation with Deepak Chopra.

It is important for us to realize that our words often lead our actions, reinforce our feelings and emotions, and as Oprah wisely stated, “…empower our intentions." Positivity in our vocabulary will lead to positive activities and feelings. Likewise, negative thoughts and words reinforce a negative mindset.

Think of those days when you wake up in a happy space, feeling cheerful and bright. Often the day continues in this vein, leading to positive interactions with colleagues, family and friends. On the other hand, when we start the day in a negative space, the day may continue in that way unless we press the reset button.

This is where our intentions become important, where our outlook is important. Whether conscious or unconscious, there is intention behind all of our actions. As Sheri Salata, co-president of the Oprah Winfrey Network stated in the January 2016 Leadership issue of Fast Company, “We don't do anything without an intention. Sometimes our intention is just to have some fun. But there definitely is some soul-searching done on every decision we make."

How do we approach the day? What is important to us in a conversation with our boss, colleague or subordinate? What do we want to accomplish today or this week?

When we put our intentions into words we are guiding ourselves towards desired outcomes. When we ask questions related to our intentions, we are ensuring that the decisions we make, or the path we take, are clear and thoughtful. When we think of intentions as an integral part of our daily life, we are mindful of our goals and actions.

As with planning ahead, setting goals, or stating our expectations, it is important for each of us to clearly outline our intentions for our various activities whether they are a meeting, a conversation, or a project. Verbalizing our intentions strengthens our resolve in following through and committing to a course of action. It allows us to clearly put things in perspective and identify the important actions in our work and family life.

When we plan and schedule for the coming days or weeks, shining a light on our intentions is an important part of looking ahead and assisting us in becoming more effective in our personal and work life.

What are your intentions? How will you incorporate them into your good habits?

Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach, Motivated Coaching and Development

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