I woke up and thought about that as I reflected on the past two weeks which made my heart sink and my stomach turn. The beauty of a new week is just that: it’s new. We may have the consequences of yesterday to work through but today, this moment, presents a new opportunity to start again, keep going, continue on.
So many times, how I start the day – and the week- sets the course for the remaining hours and days.
Tony Schwartz, author of The Power of Full Engagement and How We’re Working Isn’t Working has studied how people do their best work. He and his colleagues have found that focusing on doing a bunch of new stuff takes a lot of brain glucose.
The people who are doing their best work and experiencing purpose-filled days establish rituals, proven ways to work well. This includes sleep habits, eating habits, times for certain focused and un-interrupted creativity. Going through established rituals takes up less brain glucose, therefore, we’ve got more energy for the actual work.
Our time’s a gift. Let’s use it well.
Here are my top 11 ways to start the week well. If you have any of your own rituals that propel you forward I would love to hear them! Leave me a comment J
1. Write the one most important task to get done this week.
I’m the girl with four books cooking on the stove and none of them quite done. 3 posters with biz ideas but no execution. Three niche websites in the works but none of them helpful. Sounds like a problem with….focus. I’ve started focusing on ONE major project each week besides the current commitments. I’ve adopted this acronym:
Follow One Course Until Successful
2. For all the “little” things I need to do but often forget, I write them down and then batch them together.
Call Grandma and thank her for the letter she sent, pay a bill, check on X, read a blog post, go to the bank, etc. I write all these down and batch them in a focused area over one period of a few hours (depending on the list). Writing down the little stuff tells my brain to turn off and focus on the task at hand (or go to sleep!)
3. Get to bed at a decent hour (this is a consistent work in progress for me, but going to bed at 10:00 for 12:30 makes a big difference)
The evidence for getting enough sleep as a way to think better, be more creative and ultimately, get more done has changed this habit.
4. Eat well- I eat breakfast always and have been adding more protein to my diet.
5. Exercise- even I can only squeeze in 10-12 minutes in the morning.
Some days there is not time for a 25 minute run/walk. But I have made it a routine to spend at least 10 minutes doing a series of strength/cardio exercises in the morning. Yes, this counts as exercise! Get the heart rate up and rev up energy and metabolism. Besides the health benefit, my emotions are way more stable when I work out consistently.
6. Spend at least 10 minutes in the morning in complete quiet, doing nothing but breathing.
Work in progress. My mind wants to move all over the place but I’m getting better. And it’s making a difference in how I think and go about my day. I set a timer so I don’t think about how much time is left for my quiet time.
7. Start writing early and set the timer for 33 minute intervals. No email, phone, nada!
This works for anything: practicing a musical instrument, writing, learning a new language, studying, cleaning a room. Set the timer for 33 minutes and doggedly focus on it for that time period.
8. Stop working during my down times.
Somewhere around 2:00 my brain stops working. I used to try to fight this and keep writing only to end up super e and mad at myself for my lack of productivity. Now I work during my best hours and do things that don’t require as much focus during this time. During my day job, I may walk to refill my water bottle, step outside for a breath of fresh air to re-energize.
9. Purpose to stay out of office politics, extra “meetings”, gossip and every other negative and emotionally draining activity at the day job.
This might mean you may not be one of the “in” people at work. Who cares? You’re focused on launching a new life, remember? Besides, your creativity can’t afford the drain these negative practices cause.
10. Know what energizes you and do it a few times a week. I’ve started reading fiction for a few minutes before bed and painting just for me. I call my littlest sister most Sunday nights. I bake cookies and I give them away.
11. Read more. Books changed my life. I’m constantly working on participating in less “junk” entertainment and focusing on books helping me become who I want to be.
There we are, my 11 ways to start my week well.May you have a very productive and engaging week. May you take time to observe and enjoy the intricate beauty of blooming flowers and budding trees. May you enjoy a really good belly laugh with a friend and family member. May you enjoy good homemade food. May the little annoyances not annoy you. May you be filled with hope and grace. May you move towards your goals of making a difference- first in your own life…. so you can make a difference in other’s lives.
It starts with you and me.