In this article, I want to talk about the morning after. No, not that kind of morning after. This is about waking up determined.
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The first step in waking up determined starts the night before. Recently, I explained why the successful, stress-free life is a myth. At the end of the article, I recommended making a to-do list before you go to sleep, because it helps you get a good night’s sleep by setting your mind at ease. A good night’s sleep is not only essential for your health, it is vital on your journey to success. Sleep improves your ability to learn, solve problems, and be creative.
Some who would say that a to-do list is counter-productive. Research has shown that over 40 per cent of to-do list items never get completed. To-do lists lack important aspects of planning, such as prioritization and time management. I agree with those assessments, but my to-do list is not meant to guide my day. It simply gives me a starting point in the morning; I still need to create a plan.
When you wake up in the morning, you’re probably not going to sit straight up and stretch with a smile on your face like you see in commercials. That’s not real life. We all have things we need to do in the morning to get ourselves or our families ready for the day. But at your earliest opportunity, you need to create a plan.
You should plan your day chronologically, by blocking off time for important tasks. Some time slots will be rigid, like appointment times that can’t change, while others will be more flexible because they can be pushed back or done another day. While you want to stick to your plan as best as you can, remaining flexible in important inmanaging stress. Flexibility in the workplace, for example, has been found to increase job satisfaction while reducing stress and incidences of burnout.
You don’t want to spend hours developing a detailed plan (that’s counter-productive). You also don’t want to account for every minute of your day (that’s too much stress). Here’s an example of what a good but flexible plan might look like:
- 8:00 – Get kids to school/go to work
- 8:30 – Morning meeting
- 9:30 – Return phone calls/respond to emails
- 10:00 – Project work
- 12:00 – Exercise/eat lunch
- 1:00 – Get caught up on paperwork
- 2:00 – Meeting with Joe
- 2:30 – Coffee with Alison
- 3:00 – Project work
- 4:00 – Return phone calls/respond to emails
- 4:30 – Errands/groceries
- 5:30 – Dinner
- 6:00 – Family time/Clean up
- 8:00 – Hobby time
- 9:00 – Watch show with Alex
- 10:00 – Journaling/to-do list
- 10:30 – Bedtime
Too often, we worry about the things that need to get done and forget about the people that do them. While we need to take care of the people in our lives, the absolute first person we need to care for is ourselves.
Have you ever truly listened to the emergency instructions on an airplane? They instruct you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you attempt to help anyone else.
This same rule applies in life. While you have a plan and you want to stick to it, nothing will get done if you’re burnt out. You need to eat healthy meals, be active, take time to socialize with friends, family and co-workers, and spend time on your hobbies. Unrelated creative hobbies actually boost work performance, so even if you aren’t concerned about burning out, you should do it for your future success.
Chances are you will not get everything done that was in your plan. Life simply doesn’t work that way. It’s important to take stock at the end of the day to see what did get done, what didn’t, and if there’s anything you can do to improve tomorrow.
Failing to check an item off your to-do list does not necessarily have to be looked at as a failure. Often, we give up completing one task in favor of another, and other times we realize that what seemed important yesterday is not that important today. Still, it is important to recognize your shortcomings and seek ways to improve.
Success does not happen overnight; it comes gradually with hard work and good habits. I hope that with the help of this short guide, all your mornings after will be filled with determination, your days with success, and your nights with satisfaction.
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