odds and ends from a life under construction

31 Days, Day 5: How to be successful

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On a typical day, here’s what my schedule looks like from the time I wake up until roughly 8 am:

  • From 5 to 5:30 or so, I lie in bed in a slightly awake state and think about how I should probably get out of bed.
  • At 5:30 or so, I roll out of bed and stumble downstairs in the dark to the bathroom. The toilet in our bathroom needs to be repaired, and the only other bathroom is in Evan’s room (and I’m not going to chance waking him up for a shorter trip to the toilet).
  • In the bathroom, I weigh myself and take care of “bidness.”
  • I’m typically done with “bidness” by 5:45 and head back upstairs to our giant walk-in closet, where I put on my workout clothes. I also risk the wrath of Jason and turn on the bathroom light so I can pull my scraggly mess of hair back into a ponytail.
  • By 6, I’m out the door and either heading to the trail for running or heading to the gym for cross-training.
  • I wrap up my morning workout by 7:15. I used to try and be home by 7 but, 1) my runs got longer and that wasn’t possible, and 2) Jason usually oversleeps so even if I got back home by 7 I’d still have to wait for him to get out of the shower.
  • Around 7:30, after I get in some stretching, I hop in the shower. I used to shower in a leisurely fashion, but I’m trying to limit myself to 10 minutes so I can actually do something half-decent looking with my hair instead of the default “spray on detangler, run brush through, go” routine.
  • Downstairs, Jason has taken care of making Evan’s lunch, so when I’m ready we can load up the car and head to daycare and work. We usually actually leave the house between 8:15 and 8:30.

Our routine is a well-oiled machine at this point (albeit showing signs of rust like on days when I’m excessively tired from staying up too late reading). But it turns out (thanks, Inc Magazine) that there are some common things that successful people do before 8 am that I’m missing out on:

1. Exercise. I’ve got this one under control. Morning workouts just help me feel more energized for my day, and if I let my workout slide to the evening it almost never happens – there’s too many other things that come up to derail me. When I wake up, the day is still new and fresh and all my challenges are still in front of me. A morning workout doesn’t have to be a five-mile run, either; the 7-minute circuit that has made the rounds of late is a great way to sneak in a good workout quickly. Make it a morning habit!

The Scientific 7-Minute Workout, Ben WIseman, New York Times

The Scientific 7-Minute Workout, Ben Wiseman, New York Times

2. Map out your day. Rather than entering the day without a plan, try to schedule what you’re going to be doing throughout the day and what goals you’d like to accomplish by day’s end. Be sure to include time to eat in your plan, as well as short breaks where you can relax and unplug. Also, look back at the previous day when you’re spending time each morning making your daily map to see where things got of course, and plan time in your day for the necessary course corrections.

3. Eat a healthy breakfast. I fail miserably at this one; my breakfast is usually a granola bar, and it doesn’t get eaten until I’ve been at work for a while and gotten through the meetings that seem to happen first thing. I could easily fit in time for a healthy snack before my run, or something more substantial after, before I jump in the shower. I should probably add it to my daily map, huh?

4. Visualize your day. Between exercise and getting ready and having a toddler underfoot and making sure everyone is happy and taken care of, it’s easy to rush through the morning routine and head into my day feeling harried and frantic. There’s always little moments – whether it’s sitting in the driver’s seat of our car while Jason loads Evan into his carseat, or while I’m waiting for the water to warm up for my shower, or even when I’m getting in my post-run stretches – where I could be visualizing a successful day and imagining how it will feel when I follow my daily map to the letter and reach my daily goals. And having a quiet moment to yourself – even if it is truly just a moment – is never a bad thing.

5. Knock out the big stuff first. Big presentation at work? Schedule it in the morning. Putting off a big task that’s stressing you out? Finish it up first thing. Instead of spending your day anticipating how badly things can go or how awful something will be, you can clear it off the docket before you have a chance to stress out over it and move on to the other tasks that will help you meet your goals. I, for one, am guilty of procrastinating away the unpleasant tasks. But, funny thing about those tasks – they still have to get done. It’s much better to get them out of the way sooner rather than later. And just imagine how much more relaxed you’ll be when your day as wound down instead of up.

When I was searching around for tips to be more successful in my everyday life, I also came across a resource from GetLifeMaps on how to create and live my perfect day. The common theme seems to be – you can’t reach your goals if you don’t know what your goals are. This handy LifeMap helps you visualize a perfect day and take steps to achieve it. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and be successful!

Create And Live Your Perfect Day

Download more maps like this at www.GetLifeMaps.com

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