Setting the Stage

Are you setting the stage for a productive day?

Often times the way you start the day has a profound impact on how you successful you are in the hours that follow. You can probably relate. Have you ever missed your alarm clock and just to find yourself jumping out of bed completely frazzled and rushing around like a lunatic for the hours that follow. But if you find yourself with 30 minutes to spare in the morning you can enjoy a slow cup of coffee and some time doing whatever it is that you enjoy most, this makes for a better attitude the rest of the day? Exactly. Your morning sets the stage for your entire day.

Knowing this, how do you choose to spend the first few minutes of your day? Sure, you have work and kids and dogs and other responsibilities. I am not saying to throw everything by the wayside so you can enjoy the perfect morning. I am saying you need to plan your mornings with intent. In order to start your day on the right foot, what is a non-negotiable for you?

Maybe you don't even know the answer to that question. That is ok. What you need to do first is look at your mornings and compare them to how you feel throughout the days. The days you find yourself moving through the hours with a sense of calmness and ease, what did you do first thing?

On the contrary, the days that feel super stressful, you are uptight and anxious and ready to rip someones head off at any given moment, how was the first few minutes of your day spent. Bringing awareness to what works and what doesn't work for you is important.

If your perfect morning is 5 minutes of quiet time with a cup of coffee and a good devotional book but you have early meetings or early risers that depend on you (be it kids or dogs) you need to set your alarm for an earlier time. Yep, I said it. You need to prioritize this time of your day.

For me personally, I have noticed that my morning not only has a great impact on my mood for the rest of the day but also my eating. If I start the day off with intent, I feel calm, less anxious and I am able to make choices that are conducive to reaching my goals. On the contrary, if I wake up to immediately dive into email and social media without skipping a beat and I hit the ground running, I am more likely to find myself off course around 3pm and beating myself up hours later.

There is some debate on what the ideal morning looks like. Here are a few suggestions that I have tested myself that seem to make the day, my mindset, my mood and my productivity better.

1. Drinking water first thing. At first it made me gag. Really. But after 2 or 3 mornings I was able to get down 16oz of water. Lately I add a pinch of pink himalayan sea salt with a fresh lemon to room temperature water. This helps rehydrate but also balance my pH after a night of dehydrating.

2. Meditation. I never really gave this an honest effort before. I now immediately start a 5-10 minute meditation as soon as I get out of bed. Something that speaks to me about staying present, being forgiving of myself or practicing patience. I have tried the Insight Timer app but my favorite is still Headspace. I often use it to chill out in the middle of a stressful day as well.

3. Journaling. I have always been big into writing how I feel. But these days my journaling is different.

- I write down any anxieties I am feeling just to get them off my chest.

- I write down my intentions for the day. " I am going to be productive and present." "Today I am going to create impact with all that I do" "I will have a 'fuck what they think' attitude"

-I write down any mantras I feel will help me that day. "Right here, right now" "Create authentic impact" "Stay the course"

-I write down what I am thankful for. Sure, sometimes I am in a pissy mood but this helps change my frame of mind. Things as simple as blue skies, good coffee or barbells to as profound as my relationship with Matt, my relationship with myself or the opportunities my life has presented me are all things I find myself being grateful for.

4. Movement. For months I told myself "I am most productive first thing in the morning, I NEED to check my email and all social media platforms ASAP." That was bullshit. Sure, I am productive but that's not the only time I can be productive. For me, movement is key. Whether it be a 10 minute stretch (ROMWOD is a great app) or getting right to the gym or on my bike, I need to move first.

Again, these are things that work for me. Your morning might look different just as long as it is something that you choose to do for the right reasons. Experiment with this, keep notes on what works and what doesn't and when you have it narrowed down remember, you need to be a priority in your life and starting as soon as you wake up is as good of time as any.