4 Ways to Have a More Productive Start to Your Day
Go From Manic Monday to a Money-Making Feel-Good Morning Routine
That darn alarm. It sounds signaling the start of Monday. The start of the business week. The start of insanity. You roll over and pretend like it’s not happening- the alarm, Monday, none of it.
Or you’re like me. A morning person. Even on vacation I revel in the peace of the early hours and glow of the rising sun.
Just like I think everyone can learn to write for their businesses, I know everyone, whether a self-proclaimed early bird or night owl, can learn to use just one hour of the morning to make a HUGE impact on their businesses’s bottom line and how the whole rest of the day rolls out.
I don’t know who said it first, but there’s a saying that says either you control your time or your time controls you.
When people want to know one of my success secrets or how I have time to run two businesses and a networking group and still have time to do anything else, I point to how my morning routine is critical in my productivity and sanity in trying to do all the things.
Someday is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. -Tim Ferris, author of The Four Hour Work Week
We put off what should be done today for “someday.” I’ve been guilty too. No sugarcoating here, friends, but if you are going to run a successful business for the long-term, you have to learn to discipline your now- discipline of your time, talents, resources, and to engage self-care. Stewarding your time routines is a disciple that hits all four areas, as you will find your stress level and general mental state in a much better place to start your days to make better decisions for your business.
Let’s get to the good stuff! I’ve read lots of blogs like this about productive morning routines that are anything but simple, so first I’ll make a promise to you. I’m going to keep it simple. No complicated systems. My first directive to you to get your morning together is to get up at whatever time you need to to have an uninterrupted morning. So if your kids are up by 6:45 for school, you need to get up at 5:45. If you normally roll out of bed at 7am, get up at 6. If your mind has already started the, “But, I…,” you’re going to need to talk to your mindset. Find your hour and decide if need be to get into bed an hour earlier the night before. Don’t deplete your sleep. It’s so important to your health, wellness, and wealth!
Now you have your hour designated. I’m going to tell you exactly what I do in the hour I designate, and I think you can totally copy and paste my success routine into your morning.
- First 5 minutes after waking up, do nothing. Yep. That’s easy, right!? I give myself 5 minutes either by hitting the snooze (set for 5 minutes) or giving myself the small bit of time to stretch in bed and open my eyes. I love mornings, but I’m not trying to jump out of bed like a pop-tart!
- The next 25 minutes: I make my cup of coffee, and while it’s brewing, I drink a glass of lemon water and collagen. Cleanse. Strengthen. Caffinate! I grab my paper planner (I keep an agenda planner and a Google calendar). I’m going to suggest even if you keep all your scheduling on your phone to at least have a notebook designated for this part of your morning routine. Next I look over my schedule for the day, digest it, and I list:
- any calls I need to return.
- any follow-up actions I need to do.
- any opportunities I need to create- this could be asking someone for a virtual coffee or lunch date or following up a call or email.
- The last 5-10 minutes is either journaling, jotting ideas and brainstorms, writing gratitude or most often for reading my latest business read.
What we are doing here is creating intention with our planned actions for the day in 3 simple steps.
What this part of my routine does is to help me prioritize people and opportunities following up while the “iron is still hot.” A long time ago, at a conference, I heard that 80% of a potential customer’s excitement dies off in 48 hours of whatever interaction sparked their interest. Whether that’s a hard fact or not, I must say I think it’s very true. This part of the morning routine ensures I don’t miss out on potential money or connections, because I was too slow on the uptake.
3. 15 minutes- Draft all emails and texts to return communication or make communications from the list above. Note that I said DRAFT. Why? It’s up to you, but as far as my business goes, it doesn’t open to my clients until 8am. I draft all the communications, so at 8 or a little after, I can go and click “send” in just seconds for them all. It’s part of my boundaries system. My early time is for me not for opening the doors to business and their return communications before I am good and ready.
4. 20 minutes- I eat breakfast, plan what I will eat for lunch, and fill up my water bottle. This way, I start my day well-nourished and ensure that I will put into my body later is not junk fueled by being rushed and making an impulsive decision based on my state of hangry. During this 20 minutes, I also give myself permission to putz around on my phone and social media. This part of the morning is the reward for the first 3 steps- getting out of bed, making my lists, and making my communications. I will add this hour I talked about is not the time to plan out social media posts for your business (unless you use the time of your last 20 minutes). Why? Because unless you are hardcore disciplined, you will likely fall down the rabbit hole of posts and web surfing and undermine your productivity. My social media planning is a whole other block I’ll blog about next week! Stay tuned!
That’s it! I promised you it would be super simple! You will be amazed by how staying disciplined with this morning routine will affect your bottom lines. When your communications to clients, contacts, and prospects are timely and your day begins with order and planning, it’s a natural by-product that you’ll make more money.
For another good read on getting your Monday started on the right track, click over to a 3 minute read https://genevamaresma.com/2020/08/03/chin-up-start-your-week-with-actions-that-create-optimism/.
Now you have time plans and some tools in your hand to get disciplined. Make a morning routine. Stick to it 5 days a week. The longer you do it, at some point, it just becomes automatic and you won’t think about it. I promise!
Dream Big and Shine On Sister!
Let’s cut to the chase. If you want a long and healthy relationship with your business, you’ll have to establish boundaries around it.
Think of your business as a person. Do you want it calling you and texting you at 10pm? Do you want it to coerce you into work you’re not excited about? Would you want it to feel like it monopolizes all your time? I’m sure you’re saying, “Of course not,” but the truth is that without clear boundaries around how you conduct business and allocate your time resources to your business, you run the high probability of becoming resentful of your business. If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a friend or partner in which you feel resentment, it’s really not fun. It makes you less than the best version of yourself, and that is no way to have long-lasting relationship with your business.
The good news is that it doesn’t matter if you’ve been in business 5 days or 5 years, you can begin to groom habits that help you stay in harmony with the dream you have for your business. Here are 3 areas to examine and develop plans for to help you maintain balance through boundaries:
- Task Boundaries- Make a list of all the day to day tasks you need to manage like social media, returning emails, writing reports, packaging items…ALL the stuff. Set designated times of the day to tackle each in order to prevent flitting from task to task and checking in on social accounts are emails which will wrangle you in for more than work (Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone down the rabbit hole of social media? We’ve all done it and regretted how much time got sucked into nothing productive). Stick to your deal with yourself of when you will do these tasks.
- Customer and Client Boundaries- Before we talk about what boundaries to set up here, let’s talk about why we struggle with customer boundaries. One word. Fear. Scarcity mindset feeds the fear that if we are not all things to all people when they “need” us, they will land with our competition. However you respond to people will set the tone for what people expect of you. If you do not want to be answering emails at 8pm on a Monday, when you’d rather watch The Bachelor, then determine you won’t. Set an autoreply email for after the end of your business day, if you’d like, or be really good at disciplining yourself to respond to after-hours emails as one of your first tasks the next business day. When I first started in business, I struggled with client boundaries for a few years. I was over-delivering thinking I was giving exceptional customer service. I was providing great service, but it was through unsustainable behaviors at the cost of fights with my husband and lack of “me” time. I came to realize I could still provide outstanding care to my clients but had to prioritize my priorities first, otherwise, I was training my clients to act like young children who were constantly in need of me. I’m a stickler now for boundaries around texts and emails to my clients. A little secret… I often draft back text or email responses on Sunday mornings, but I don’t hit send until 8am Monday morning. Why? While I worked the weekend for a couple hours perhaps to alleviate my Monday morning time, I do not want my customers perceiving I work weekends. Texts and emails received after 6pm relative to work go on the next day’s task list. Lean in and listen closely friend. You have to know something. You’re amazing at what you do, and you are a wonderful person to do business with. That is your sell. Your people will not leave you if you are responsive when you tell them you will be. They do not do business with you, because you reply to all their FB comments immediately. They do business with you, because you are reliable and they have the confidence you will follow through on communication according to when you say you will. Build your business on the value of you and your integrity.
- Personal Time- I should have listed this one first in order. When you go to schedule your week (I do mine on Sundays), you must put your needs on the calendar first, and then the other time is work time. I have a need for 30 minutes in the morning to drink my coffee and eat my breakfast. I might write or watch the news or read during this time, too. It’s non-negotiable. I know when my day does not start this way, I will struggle the whole day feeling aligned. Whatever is important for your personal inner balance, schedule first. A workout. A half hour lunch. A dinner date with a friend. Time to curl your hair or put on makeup and your best face forward. It may sound silly, but a swipe of mascara, a pop of lip color, an outfit I like, and good hair make me feel put together which boosts my confidence that no matter who I run into during the day or what Zoom meeting I end up on, I represent myself for my business in the best way. I put on perfume, even when I have a day of video calls. Why? It simply makes me feel good. Set yourself as a priority, and whatever you do, do not compromise your boundaries during YOU time for one more email or one more phone call. They can wait, but your mental health is always immediate.
If you want to shine and truly see your dreams reveal themselves, getting harmony and balance with your work and within yourself is one of the keys that opens the doors to fruitfulness and success.
This is as important a business strategy as any others I teach. It’s foundational and life-changing. I’m here to support your boundary plan and cheer you on, sister!
Dream Big and Shine On!
Two weeks ago, I was drowning in paperwork, meetings, writing, and coaching. Flailing. OMGee. Send me a life preserver.
I decided one Sunday evening that what I needed STAT was to create some margin in my time for the upcoming week. The tasks on my plate were all “have-tos,” so there was no putting off or choosing to not do one of them. Also, I’m a big believer in never compromising small self-care tasks like reading, journaling, or praying/meditating, so taking time away from my 30 minutes of me-time with my coffee was not an option.
As I mulled over my plight (anxiety), I had an “AHA” moment- social media had to go for 4 days of the workweek, and I would reenter FB land on Friday, when the week was coming to a close and my tasks were completed. I normally spend 10 hours a week alone on social media for my women’s networking group between content development, event planning and communication, and general engagement. Throw in my business page, and while I am not a FB junkie, I do like to catch up with the goings-on of the day that people post after the end of my workdays, so let’s say 13-15 hours a week is consumed on social media. Right there I found the time I needed. 13-15 extra hours is a lot of time for squeezing in more work!
So I did it. I fasted all but returning some messages that came through which were pertinent to respond. I found myself one day mindlessly clicking the icon on my phone and then had to exit out ASAP- it was totally subconscious like mindless eating. Some personal observations during my 4 days off FB,
1. Surprisingly, I felt an incredible sense of FOMO- the world was happening and I felt really disconnected. A friend had a baby, and I wasn’t one of the first to see her pics. Another friend was doing some cool things on her FB business page celebrating 5 years of business.
2. Although I felt like I was missing out on some exciting things, I also felt like I dodged being sucked into Latinagate post Superbowl and impeachment political posts. I didn’t miss the FB debates for sure.
3. I found myself feeling much calmer each morning not laying in bed and jumping on FB to see what I’d missed since I got off it the night before. I think millions of people worldwide do just that. I felt more at peace each morning and focused on my morning me-time centeredness tasks.
4. I really did create more time to get things done. We’ve become so accustomed to social media as a way of life and needing of our time, but until we go without it on vacation or a self-imposed fast, we don’t realize how much time it is taking from our lives. Don’t get me wrong. Most of the time I find good value in my interactions on social media, but the time away led me to deciding I needed to tweak my day to day consumption plan to at least sticking with the practice of not going on first thing in the morning. I didn’t do that perfectly last week, but probably 3/5 days, but on the three I did, I found that small slice of morning peace with my morning joe was much greater when I was disciplined enough to stay off the Book.
We’re all busy. We all need to make margin for inner peace and quiet, for exercise, or to get shtuff done. Where can you create time?