In a previous post, I shared how to find in your busy morning to do the things that are important to you. Today I want you to think about what you should and what you shouldn’t be doing in those first few hours of the day. I am not a fan of the word “should” as it tends to feel heavy and out of alignment.
That’s an important idea to ponder. So often you get stuck in a rut or a routine and do things because that’s what you’ve always done. You do it without really thinking about whether or not it’s the best use of your time. And because you were told at some point that you “should”!
It’s Not About Cramming More Things Into Less Time
Making over your morning isn’t about figuring out how to cram more tasks into fewer hours. When you read books and articles on productivity and time management, that’s often the main message and gist of it. While it can help in the short term, it isn’t a good long-term strategy for meaningful change. Very soon you’ll hit the limit of how much faster and how much more efficient you can get. One of the biggest challenges I had was to do all the things in 8-10 hours a day only to find myself ready to nap within 3 or 4 hours.
It’s time to shift your thinking and don’t try to add to what you do in the morning. If you want 15 minutes for bible study, meditation, or exercise, don’t just think about getting up 15 minutes earlier, or shaving 15 minutes off your morning routine by showering faster, getting dressed in record time, and rushing through breakfast. In other words, don’t add to your already lengthy list of things that need to get done. You’ll only feel more rushed and stressed if you do.
Also and this bears repeating: Know what you want your mornings to look and feel like. You decide what you want to do for your morning routine, not what you should be doing. There are still things that are in need of you getting them done, but let’s not start your day that way!
It’s About Making Smart Choices About Using Your Time
Instead, what you want to be thinking about is the best use of your time in the morning. Compare your perfect morning with your current morning routine. What aren’t you doing on your ideal morning? If you can start by cutting things out, finding time to do what’s important to you becomes much easier. Sometimes you add things to your routine that aren’t even necessary!
There are two great ways to find things you can stop doing. The first is to look for busy work. This is something you do out of habit that doesn’t necessarily need doing every day. Maybe it’s checking your email first thing in the morning or playing around on Facebook for half an hour while you drink your coffee. If that’s how you choose to spend your time, that’s perfectly fine, but if you’re doing it out of habit it may be time to rethink it.
The second way to quickly earn back time is to see if you’re doing things or others that they can do themselves. Kids are the perfect example, and I talked about this a little bit in this post here.
We start out fixing their breakfast, making their lunch, cleaning up after them, picking out their clothes, and making sure their backpack is packed and ready to do. When they are very small, we have to do these things, but all too often we continue to do them long after they’re capable of doing things on their own. The same goes for things we do for our spouse. Your spouse is capable and can manage his/her own time in order to get the coffee going.
Did things change and if so, is it time to lighten your load and get help from your partner?
A few small changes may be all it takes to make the time in your busy morning for what’s important to you.
Check out my mini-training for effective planning!
Losing power isn’t always fun. Okay, whom I kidding, it’s never fun really. We lost power due to the windstorm that came to Virginia around noon on Friday.
We are pretty good at managing crisis and challenges come our way but one thing was clear, when your life kinda evolves being connected online, it can make things a bit challenging.
And clearly, I spend way to much time online and am needing to make the time to disconnect a bit of a priority.
It was pretty scary hearing the wind and the trees dancing in it. Our property is surrounded by trees and a few of them are close to the house which brings a level of fear to the horizon and also some projects we need to address this year.
My son handled pretty well too as he spent time focusing on his art but he too was challenged in staying entertained. The thing for him is that he needs stimulation in order to function and when you take that away it’s like he doesn’t know what to do with himself. And in that reference, we are both the same but I have learned how to cope over the years.
And as we sat in front of the wood stove with a propane lamp trying to keep us warm and entertained, we headed off to another night of little sleep as the wind kept howling.
As the next day rolled around, we were definitely ready for the power to come on but as we tuned into the work that needed to get done by the electric crew we also know it could be a while.
And with that came the concern of the food we would lose, how we would manage our entertainment without losing our minds in the process.
And before I knew it, I was sitting on the couch with notebook and pen and fleshed out a fiction story that came to my mind. I even ran out of ink because I was so in flow with the story that came to me.
There is always something you can do when you are in the middle of a situation that you can’t control. Ours was definitely challenging as we spend our time together in close quarters for the majority of the time.
At my 6 pm Saturday night as I was getting a new pen, the power came on and we danced and celebrated.. ok maybe not like that but it was definitely a relieve in many ways.
Isn’t it interesting how you want nothing more than to shower when your power is out? Or how much time you actually don’t spend together and then when you do, you struggle to keep positive or even pleasant.
How do you manage everything when you aren’t in control of a situation? Have a power outage story?
I’d love to hear it!
And I am off to keep fleshing out the story!
When our kids were still living at home and in school, our mornings were a bit crazy. And if you have a family and trying to get all the things done before school or work, this may be true for you too. I mean let’s be honest, trying to get three boys and one girl up and out the door is no small feat at times. And something that we (my partner and I) have done really well, is to communicate but also tag team the kids as needed. My main focus or attention had been on the youngest due to the medical needs at the time, while my partner focused on the other kids.
Here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to be crazy because if you have defined your morning routine, then you are already on your way to have calmer mornings. If you have kids and/or work outside of the home, you already know what time the kids need to be out the door and when you have to leave.
Right here, right now, I am going to ask you to make a choice.
Do you want that to be rushed, frantic, and feeling like you’re constantly running and trying to catch up?
Do you want it to be calm, collected, productive, and with a feeling that you’re in control?
It’s up to you and it’s all about embracing two simple concepts.
Get Up Early Enough
It’s tempting to hit the snooze button and catch a few more minutes of sleep, isn’t it? It’s even hard to set the alarm early enough that you have plenty of time for everything you want and need to get done. I get it. If you’re not a morning person, moving up the alarm by 30 minutes to carve out a little extra time can be tough. Trust me though, after the first few mornings it’s not nearly as hard as you think and something you’ll quickly get used to.
Getting up early enough and avoiding the snooze button at all costs is the key to an unrushed morning. Here’s the problem with cutting time too short, or worse hitting the snooze button a few times. It gets you behind from the very start. You have to rush to make it out the door in time and any little problem or speed bump along the way turns into a huge problem. Not being able to find the car keys is suddenly a major crisis because it could cause you to be late for work and the kids to be tardy at school. Remember, your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. If you start it chasing downtime and things, that’s likely how you’ll spend the rest of your time.
Getting up early enough, on the other hand, puts you ahead of the game. You’re in control. You can take care of everything that needs doing in a calm manner and still have time for the important things you want to work on. In short, getting up early enough sets you up for an amazing, productive day.
If you are struggling with this, then the 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins is an amazing resource to help you stop hitting that snooze button.
My key point here is that you either allow the mornings to control you or you control them. There is no other way around it. Which leads me to the next point!
Restructure Your Routine
Spend a little time thinking about your current morning routine and where you’re spending time. Look for things you can change and tweak to find more time for the things you really want to do. For example, if you want an extra 20 minutes in the morning to meditate, look at what you could take care ahead of time, eliminate, or delegate to make that time.
But more importantly, what do you want your mornings to feel and be like. The more clear you are on this, the easier it will be to plan ahead and implement a new morning routine.
And let’s talk about delegating for a moment. As a mom, I know that we love to do for our kids and that’s cool when they are little and they need the help and support. But as they get older, kids can do for themselves. They can pour the cereal and the milk. Sure it may be a little messy but it’s not the end of the world. Because if you spend a lot of time getting breakfast for everyone there won’t be time for you!
Teach the kids to make their own breakfast and take the dirty dishes to the sink, rinse them, and put them in the dishwasher. This is so important not just for your own sanity, but for them to become independent beings.
And maybe making sure clothes are set out the night before (including yours), and that book bags, purses, briefcases, and car keys have a designated spot will help you spend 30 minutes figuring out what to wear and losing your mind because you don’t know where the keys are.
Small changes like this to your morning routine can make a big difference. I challenge you to come up with a few small tweaks that will save you at least 30 minutes in the morning.
Share with me the small changes you are going to make to set yourself up for calmer mornings.
Let me give you a visual… it’s a thought that came to me a few weeks ago when I was trying for my brain to shut off and go to sleep but instead, this is what transpired:
You’re walking in the forest on a clear path and as you are walking you feel the nudge to go off the beaten path. But you stop yourself in the tracks because you don’t see what lies ahead.
One the clear path you can see where you are going. It feels safe and comfortable. And the path that you are being nudged to take is quite the opposite because it feels a little scary.
Maybe if you listen to your nudge you come across the most beautiful meadow or you come across a wild animal.
Now here is the thing, that wild animal can still meet you along the clear path but you may miss one of the most beautiful views you’ve ever thought possible.
Which will you choose? The safe and clear path or the unknown path?
This is what “taking your idea and running with it” means to me. It’s when an idea comes and I choose to head into the unknown and am rewarded with one of the coolest experiences ever. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel the fear or the doubts that “what if this doesn’t work out”.
It means to follow one thought, one idea and take action on it, even if you don’t know what to expect.
But if I don’t take action I could be missing out on the best thing ever and that perhaps is my bigger fear. The fear that I missed an opportunity to take my life to the next level.
This life is an amazing journey and sometimes you have to take the path less traveled. The one that only you can go on because you are without question being nudged to take it – even if other’s and your ego are sending you the warning signals that it isn’t safe.
What nudges have you been hearing but have not acted on them?