Living and breathing business is second nature for most entrepreneurs, but a punishing work schedule quickly becomes a false economy if you don’t look after yourself. Dedicating time to number one prepares your mind, body and soul and enables you to act from a place of calm focus in all areas of your life, not least your working one. In fact, you can turn your whole day into a series of rituals that help you to succeed in all spheres. Avoid risk of burnout by trying some of these ways to set yourself up for the day, stay disciplined throughout, and end the day, still with your eye on success.
Be an Early Bird
Some of the most successful people in the world all have one thing in common: a morning ritual.
Productive folk tend to wake up early to get a head start on the day. Steve Jobs is said to have been a keen early riser, and Richard Branson has even blogged about the benefits of waking early – typically getting up at 5am, hours before the rest of civilisation have opened their eyes.
It doesn’t mean that high-flyers are insomniacs, it’s more that they discipline themselves. If you start working an hour or two before everyone else, you can get well ahead of the rest. But you don’t necessarily need to begin work at that time. Have you ever noticed how peaceful the world is, just around sunrise? Simply starting your day in that tranquillity, while the rest of the world isn’t awake. Can help you to set out in a calm state of mind. You could try just getting up 30 minutes early to meditate, work out, read something inspiring, or simply do something for yourself, to kick-start a positive day.
There’s a ritual attached to going to the gym daily, which has obvious health benefits of weight loss or maintenance, heart health and improved circulation. Good health can’t be bought – our organs need well-oxygenated blood for a longer life, exercise also releases feel-good hormones, and good circulation also helps our brains to function, improving our thinking skills. If you don’t already have a fitness regime, you can steal a few minutes of your day to do some exercise of your choice – either at home, or on the way to work. If you can’t run, cycle or walk your commute, park further away from the office, or get off public transport a stop earlier. Or during work, try taking a walk during a long phone call.
Even if you don’t think meditation or mindfulness is for you, a simple thought of gratitude each day can make a difference to your outlook and productivity. Spend some time, each day, thinking of things you are grateful for, big or small. If you prefer, write good things down in a gratitude journal. And while you’re thinking positively, decide on your intention for the day. Whether that’s a large generalisation, like ‘enjoy myself’, or a specific intention to achieve certain tasks at work.
Face your Goals
Use the power of creative visualisation to motivate you into achieving your goals. Spend 5 minutes focusing on your aims. Make a vivid picture of what you want to achieve in the future. Then, make it multi-sensory. What will it feel like, when you achieve your targets? What will you hear? What will you see? Use visualisation to see your day going just as planned, taking you nearer to achieving your goal. You’ll feel motivated and goal-orientated to be much more productive in your working day.
With your major goal in mind, highlight three tasks that will propel you forward, towards your bigger vision – and focus on these, for the first part of your day. Prioritise the most important thing and do that first. It might be a task you’re dreading or the toughest thing to do, but it gets you furthest – and after that, everything else is easy as you work on the smaller day-to-day tasks.
When you’re not working – or thinking about work – make sure that you are fully present during the time you spend with your family or friends. There’s nothing worse than an ‘absent’ parent, partner or friend, whose body is in the same room, but whose mind and attention are elsewhere. Set aside time to switch off all distractions – phone, laptop, tablet, TV. Life will be so much richer!
Identify tomorrow’s priorities before bedtime, and you can clear your conscious mind of all your ideas, worries or to-do lists, spilling them onto paper or your digital planner so you can sleep ‘clean’. Plus, you’ve lodged them in your subconscious mind, which can work on them while you snooze. Fresh perspectives and understanding, new solutions and ideas often come to you first thing, having been processed by your brain during dreams.