"How you face your morning is how you face your life."
Sarah Harrison shared this bit of wisdom with us — and it immediately changed the way we start our day!
Through her own experiences dealing with burnout and leaving a full-time job to carve out her own path as a small business owner and consultant, Sarah has learned a ton about how to create systems that help her begin each day on the right foot.
Let's check out Sarah's five key tips for maximizing your morning ritual.
Are you ready?!
A self-professed "night owl living in an early bird world," Sarah struggled with her New Year's resolution back in 2014: to simply get up earlier every morning. She had recently made the leap from working a 9-to-5 to becoming self-employed and her daily schedule was changing every day. Some days were filled with energizing meetings, other days were emptier and left her feeling down on herself (especially if no new clients were coming in).
Then, she made one simple shift that started to turn it all around. Every night, before going to bed, she sits down with her planner and maps out the next day.
Why is this part of her morning ritual so important? Sarah learned quickly that planning her day the night before translated into having a much easier morning and a better night's sleep.
"When I plan out my day the night before, knowing I’ll get up and get things done as part of my routine. I don’t have to toss and turn, worrying about what I might forget to do. I’m free to sleep tight, then get up and follow the plan."
When she no longer had a boss or a team to hold herself accountable to every day, Sarah realized that a good way to combat the ever-shifting nature of her new daily schedule was to block out time each day for her morning routine.
Every morning, from 6am to 8am, she reserves two hours for herself and she has a strict policy that nothing — not even a pesky client or a looming deadline — is allowed to get in the way of that time.
Of course, being self-employed does mean having to be flexible, and there will be days when it's tough to be that strict about your morning routine. Sarah knows this, so she also treats this time as a buffer. If she ever needs to be somewhere before 9am, she'll make sure her morning ritual happens that day between 6am and 7am.
"As a self-employed professional and someone who's also starting a new business, every day can bring something totally different. This one bit of regularity is my anchor."
We all know what happens when we open up our phones a few minutes after waking up: we get sucked into the rabbit hole of checking Facebook or responding to emails. That can turn into being reactive before you even get out of bed — which can lead to stress and burnout.
Sarah created a general rule for herself that she doesn't look at email or social media until after she's dressed for the day.
As for managing other distractions that might get in the way of your morning?
"That's the beauty of having my 6am wakeup routine blocked out on my calendar every morning. Once I got that down, nothing could mess with me."
Since the rest of your day has already been mapped out (good thing you tackled that the night before!), Sarah recommends using the time you set aside for your morning ritual to clear out any lingering brain fog and mentally prepare for creating a kickass day.
What does her morning ritual look like? She gets up at 6am and does some light exercise and stretching. Then she does a short meditation. After that, she takes a shower, gets dressed, walks her dog, takes her vitamins and eats breakfast. Only after she's finished her morning routine does she tackle the task of looking at her inbox or checking social media.
Need some other ideas for how to start your day? Try writing down 10 goals you want to accomplish in the near future, or spend 10 minutes reading something motivational. We've also heard from many folks that they like to start their day by writing down three things they're grateful for.
Whatever you choose to make your morning ritual, use that time to center yourself and mentally prepare for whatever might come at you later on in the day.
Remember, this might be the only part of your day you have total and complete control over. Spend that time wisely!
"I don’t trust my morning brain to make good decisions for me. I give it a routine that I’ve planned out when I was awake and feeling strategic. By the time I finish, the fog has cleared and I can go back to steering the ship in real-time."
Last — but definitely not least! — Sarah shared with us that learning to write things down was key to creating a morning ritual that sets the tone for a successful, productive day.
She recommends keeping a small journal handy and writing everything down — what you're doing that day, what you hope to accomplish, tasks you want to complete, even something that you're celebrating (which could be anything from "I landed a new client today" to "I got out of the house today").
Sarah even jots down the steps that she takes during her morning ritual as part of her daily to-do list, because she found that if she starts the day checking things off her list, she's more likely to keep going on her lists as the day progresses (and that's how goals get accomplished).
Sarah is a big fan of the Bullet Journal method, and many of us shared during the chat that planners like the Self Journal or the Volt Planner can provide a helpful structure when you're mapping out your goals and daily tasks. However, there's no need to get fancy — any small notebook or journal will do. The key is simply to write it all down.
Why does Sarah swear by the power of manually writing everything down?
"The beauty of writing stuff down is if I’m repeatedly scheduling and rescheduling the same task and not getting to it… it’s obvious that I need to either do it or *admit* I’m not going to. Tracking tasks using an analog method is repetitive on purpose — it’s obvious when I need to treat the task like a meeting and schedule it. Or, it’s never going to get done."
Read Sarah's top three tips for creating systems for goal setting that she shared with us during our last live chat here in OWN IT!
If you want to learn more about Sarah's morning routine, you can also check out her blog post on 3 Reasons Why Having a Morning Ritual Is So Important.
Then, tell us below:
How are *you* applying her tips to your own morning ritual? What's working best for you, and where are you hoping to improve in 2017?
Can't wait to hear your stories!
"Make your morning ritual non-negotiable." What a great recommendation! I love how the morning offers unlimited potential for the day. I like to get up before everyone else to set my intentions for the day and fit in a workout for some peace of mind :) What is your morning ritual??
Planning the night before is really a good idea. I jot down 5-6 things that I need to achive the next day. Short term goals that leads to the bigger ones are important.
I also suggest to spend some time to create a spreadsheet with time on onside and day on other and jot down all the things you are doing for a few days, you will see where you are putting more time, with that you can plan and use time wisely! :)
Let me know how it goes!
CEO - Fresh Mind Ideas
Thanks for sharing @ajay!
I love to have a positive mindset going into the next day no matter what. If there is a task I am not too jazzed about, I jot down how I can change my mindset and make it into a positive :smileyhappy: