I ’ve discovered the secret to having a fabulous and productive day. It involves salad, coffee, dishes, sheets and meditation.
Now, before you grab a pen and begin to jot down my list so you can theorize about how these seemingly small details can make the difference between a fabulous and productive day instead of a crappy and chaotic day, let me explain: I choose to make my day fabulous by giving myself the gift of extraordinary routines, because I have learned that every action I take creates my life.
Routines may sound old fashioned. Routines may sound stiff and inflexible. They are neither. Routines are simply about managing your energy effectively so that you can channel it towards your real desires and purpose. Routines fuel your day and nourish your spirit.
Every night before I go to bed, in addition to my self-care routine of face washing and teeth brushing, I make the bulk of JB’s lunch (the salad) and set-up the coffee pot (the coffee). These two small nightly tasks make my mornings run 100% smoother. When I get up, coffee starts perking at the click of a button, and making JB a nutritious and delicious lunch to take to work involves mere moments of gathering pre-staged Tupperware containers.
This may seem miniscule to some of you, and on the surface it is. Underneath the surface, though, you will see that I am setting up my morning for success with five minutes of preparation. When you spend a few moments of your evening staging and streamlining, you are allowing yourself to start the day with slow, deliberate actions instead of a flurry of rushing around. I’m able to stay calm and focus on my intention for the day instead of madly chopping vegetables at 6 AM.
When JB heads out the door to go to work, I send him off with feelings of love and appreciation for our relationship. I sip my first cup of coffee with a peaceful heart.
I’ve also discovered two key activities to a day of productive writing and coaching: unloading the dishwasher (the dishes) and making the bed (the sheets). Seriously. If I fail to do either of these activities before I begin my work, every time I leave my office, I feel unsettled.
Working from home can be a challenge to anyone, but if you leave areas of the house in a state of undoneness and chaos, it will affect the way you feel. Unloading the dishwasher means that my kitchen is a space of support for me. After I finish my cup of coffee, I can put the cup in my dishwasher, instead of the sink. Breakfast and lunch dishes have a place to go as well. The five minutes it takes to unload the dishwasher sets up an environment of order.
Providing yourself with an environment of order is critical to productivity. By having a quick and handy place for items to go, you are able to do easy tasks, like dishes, without having to strategize or think. This leaves your energy for creating and strategizing where it belongs: on your work!
By making my bed before I begin to work, I am blessed with the gift of completion. When I pass the bedroom, I am greeted with a space that is neat and tidy. I don’t suddenly find myself feeling guilty for the things I should be doing (like cleaning house) and reducing distractions to work. Don’t underestimate the power of making your bed. It’s a way of closing out the last day and reminding you that you have a fresh slate in front of you. Adding small rituals of opening and closure to your day gives tremendous value to your mind and soul.
When I sit down to my desk each morning, I close my eyes and meditate for two to five minutes. This morning mediation isn’t about a particular pose or a way of breathing; it’s the act of stilling my mind and checking in with my heart. Mediation certainly deserves a more in-depth discussion, but let me ask this: If you don’t check in with your heart, how do you determine your intention for the day? How do you know what activities in your work day will allow you to end your work day with a feeling of productivity?
Living life in the zone is a choice you make. You get to define the zone for yourself by choosing how you want to feel and by following your desires. Giving yourself the gift of routines allows you to operate on auto-pilot and still get outstanding results. It allows you to complete necessary tasks with a minimum of energy expenditure – leaving the important parts of your life to get the lion’s share of your precious attention and energy.
What about you? What preparations can you make to allow a slow and deliberate start to your day? Where you can set up an environment of order? What small acts of completion can you take to open and close your day?
(Art is: “Untitled” by Gil Elgren)