What’s inspired me to be thinking about this?
Here in Australia, it’s week 1 of term 3. For my friends back in the UK, it’s the last or the penultimate week of term before the long summer holidays. The change from holiday to term-time or vice versa is always one that makes me reflect a little. How are we doing in our house? Is everyone happy? Are we living well? The start of anything can be a great time to make some small, but powerful changes to make life run a little smoother.
The things I’m going to be talking about here don’t really fall into the purview of a life coach. Coaching is not about giving advice or telling people what to do. But it is totally in the purview of an organised business owner/mum/wife/busy person who truly believes that better organisation and planning leads to a happier life!
I’m starting with mornings because the way you start the day can impact on every other moment of it. And because it’s where a lot of arguments, tension and stress can start. Now, I’m not necessarily suggesting getting up at 5, spending an hour reading life-improvement books while drinking tree bark tea, then doing an hour’s workout, selling some shares and preparing 8 meals all before breakfast. (I mean, if that floats your boat, go for it. But frankly I believe most people are more like me and enjoy sleep!)
I’m not suggesting huge changes that are unsustainable either. But I do want you to think about how you spend the first 15 minutes of your day. And if this 15 minutes really serves you well. Does the earliest part of your morning set you up for a successful, balanced and calm day?
Perhaps not. And perhaps it starts not in the morning, but the evening before.
Here are 4 evening ideas to make mornings start better.
Go to bed on time
I know I don’t need to tell you all about the research that shows being sleep deprived has severe implications on your health and wellbeing. The single best way to overcome sleep deprivation is to set a time for sleep that works for you. Some of that will depend on your daytime commitments and what time you need to get up. The most boring thing in the world is to have an established time you go to bed and stick to it, but it has the mostimpact on your sleep health. I desperately want there to be a far cooler thing to do to improve your sleep but going to sleep at the same time really is key. Not only does it improve your quality of sleep, but you will also be able to rely less on your alarm clock to wake up, leading you to wake more naturally and feeling more refreshed. Don’t believe me? Challenge yourself to have a similar bedtime for the next 2 weeks and come back to me!
Don’t put off chores until morning
What is it that you’re cramming into your morning that is a massive pain in the behind? Are you leaving dishes overnight, or your ironing until the morning? What preparation can you do before the morning? Now, I’m not talking about leaving it until just before you go to bed. Because I wouldn’t do it then either, I’m done for the day! But you can do those things at any time. When it’s my turn to clear up the kitchen, I like to get it done straight after dinner. Dishes in the dishwasher, leftovers in tubs ready for the fridge/freezer and all surfaces wiped down. It makes getting up and into the breakfast routine so much easier.
Have a tidy bedroom
Not only does a tidy bedroom help you sleep better, it makes life much easier in the morning. Being organised about where your things are means that you know where to go for them when you’re looking.
Be prepared for the day
What does good preparation look like to you? It might depend on the day you have. If I’m not meeting clients, then I don’t bother to plan my outfits. If I’m seeing any clients, then I make sure I know what I want to wear before I go to sleep. If it’s a big meeting, then I’ll have all my clothes out and ready. If I have a day where I’m constantly switching between different types of responsibilities – work, volunteering, parenting, things for my husband’s work – I make sure I have my outfits, my bags and all the things I need to take ready and prepared. It reduces the chance of lying awake worrying about the day to come. Regardless of what I have going on, I always plan my day in advance, so I know what my schedule is. Even if it’s just a 5-minute look at my planner, it means my head is in the game from the moment I wake up.
If your evenings are good, here are my tips for the morning itself.
Start the day with intention
Before getting out of bed, set your intentions for the day. It’s not about what you’re going to do, but about who you are going to be today, how you are going to meet the world. Sometimes you can capture this in a word or phrase – brave, confident, calm, organised, determined, without hesitation, honestly, purposeful – or sometimes it can just be a feeling of how you want to show up. Start your day with purpose, on purpose.
Inject some joy or positivity
I often start my day by checking out the world news. It’s not about me wanting to know what has happened before I get out of bed. It’s just a way to put off getting out of bed. But I recognise this just means I see bad news first thing. Instead, I try to do something positive or joyful. It could just be stretching, it could be reading a couple of pages of something uplifting, it could be movement or just sitting with a drink somewhere calm. What brings you a bit of joy? Maybe some music, maybe a particular drink or food.
Switch up your morning drink
I’ve just got back into hot water and lemon first thing. Why did I even stop doing this? It’s an amazing drink with plenty of health benefits. That’s not to say I don’t also have a cup of coffee or tea but starting off with something that is not caffeinated definitely makes me feel better. If you don’t drink enough water, adding a glass or hot cup first thing in the morning can be a really easy way to drink more.
I like to use the rule of 3 when it comes to journaling.
What 3 things am I specifically grateful for? You must be really specific, not generic otherwise it’s just a list. Gratitude is an emotion and an attitude that strengthens our resilience, makes our outlook more positive and strengthens our social connectedness. It’s not just a tick box exercise.
What 3 things do I really want to get done today? I find this works best for me if I focus on at least one thing in my personal life and at least one thing in my work life. If the 3 things I pick are things that can’t all be done, it is a good indication that I’m not breaking things down into small enough steps. These 3 things should also relate directly to my big goals. If they don’t, I have to question why I’m not prioritising things that are goal-oriented.
What 3 things are on my mind that are pulling my focus and distracting me? I give them 3 minutes of writing time; a scribbly vent. Then move on. By actively deciding to not concentrate on things I know are likely to distract me, I’m more able to park them and get on with my day.
What changes do you think would help you the most?