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6 Things That Can Jeopardize Your Morning Routine

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Morning Routine

We all have those days when things just won’t go our way. More often than not, they start with a hectic morning.

The morning is an opportunity to set the tone for the rest of your day. That’s why a morning routine is so important: When you make good use of the first few hours, you generate momentum that helps you be productive throughout the afternoon and evening. 

Of course, you can’t plan for everything. Disruptions happen, but they don’t have to throw your entire morning out of whack.

The key is proactivity. If you know what disruptions to expect, you can minimize them. If they do happen, you can mitigate their impact on the rest of your day. These are the top culprits:

1. Your Alarm Doesn’t Go Off

It happens to the best of us: No matter how sure we were about setting our alarm clock, it doesn’t go off.

Maybe you forgot to activate it. Perhaps you set a “p.m.” time instead of an “a.m.” It could have come unplugged from the wall.

The solution is to wake up at the same time every morning. Within a week or two, your body will start naturally waking up at that time.

If you truly need an alarm, get one with a battery backup. Look for a “set it and forget it” model that automatically chimes every morning at the same time.  

2. You Check Your Phone First Thing

These days, you need a smartphone. But that doesn’t mean you should be scrolling through it first thing after you wake up. With all the things to do online and in apps, you may find yourself deeply distracted.

Checking your phone first thing may keep you in bed too long. It can also get in the way of more productive morning habits, such as meditating or exercising.

Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock. Better yet, keep it out of the bedroom altogether. If you struggle to stay accountable to yourself, ask your spouse to remind you. 

3. Your Wi-Fi is Down

Although you shouldn’t stare at your phone first thing each day, there are reasons you might need to get online. You may want to check your online calendar in order to internalize what’s ahead of you. Or you may want to answer emails before you head to the office. 

If your Wi-Fi goes down regularly, there are two ways to get the information you need. You could get a back-up access method, such as a hotspot. You could also do some legwork upfront to keep your morning routine offline. Start by:

  • Saving your calendar offline.
  • Keeping a physical copy of your schedule.
  • Reading a newspaper instead of internet news.
  • Downloading exercise classes, relaxing music, or other streamable media.

4. Your Housemates Interrupt You

If you live with other people, there’s always a chance that they could disrupt your morning routine. Maybe your roommate steals the bathroom when you want to take a shower. Or maybe your kids are demanding attention while you are trying to make breakfast. 

The best way to prevent others from distracting you is to talk with them about your morning routine. Ask about theirs, too. If necessary, post everyone’s morning tasks and times in a public place, like on the fridge.  

Just because you’ve laid out a perfect routine for yourself doesn’t mean it works for everyone else. Be civil, set expectations, and remember that mistakes happen.

5. You’re Stuck on Yesterday.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could start every day with a fresh slate? That’s what mornings are meant for.

With that said, you might struggle to get something from the past out of your mind. Maybe some tragic news event is bothering you. Perhaps you received bad news about a loved one. A fight with a partner can bother you for days.

If you can resolve issues before going to bed, do so. If not, allow yourself time in the morning for introspection. You can meditate or write in a journal during this time. It’s important to get in tune with your emotions so that they don’t overwhelm you. 

6. You’re Missing Your Must-Haves.

You’ve finished most of your morning routine and you are about to leave the house — but you can’t find your keys. You search everywhere, but you can’t seem to find them. Plus, you’re now running late. 

In this scenario, “your keys” could represent anything that you need to leave the house, like your wallet or bus pass. Not being able to find them when you’re leaving can create stress that lasts the rest of the day. 

The key (pun intended) is to keep these items in the same place at all times. Make it a ritual that every time you return home, you put your keys in the same place. 

Disruptions tend to happen at the worst possible times. But a little preparation can go a long way toward preserving your morning routine. And the more consistent you can keep it, the more ingrained it will become. 

5 Keys to Keeping a Routine When Working From Home

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Just a couple of months ago, “normal” looked like waking up in the morning, getting ready, commuting, working, and heading back home. Now, working from home is actually starting to feel normal.

By now, the allure of structureless days has faded. Our new challenge is to make sure that our new normal is one worth maintaining. For that, we need routines.

The Real Work of Routines

Routines are the route to happier, healthier days. Deeper sleep, lower stress levels, and improved mental health all start with routine. For all of those reasons and more, routines make us more productive.

What if you’re struggling to set or, more likely, stick to new routines? Five steps are key:

1. Start Out Simple

Mapping out a complicated routine right off the bat all but ensures that you’re not going to maintain it. Nestling routines within routines is overwhelming at best and self-defeating at worst.

With these complications, you’ll likely find any excuse to remove things. Before you know it, any semblance of structure will be gone. 

There’s a lot to be said about the power of simplicity. Easy routines also tend to be efficient and effective routines. Effective routines are easy for us to follow because we can see them working.

Need a place to start? Put together a solid morning routine: What do you need to put yourself on the right path for the workday? Make sure it includes time for:

  • Exercise
  • Dressing and grooming
  • A healthy breakfast
  • Self-reflection, meditation, or journaling
  • Workday preparation

2. Avoid Disruptions

When you’re trying to get a routine going, the smallest of disruptions can throw you off. Maybe you’re in work mode, but you get a notification that you can’t resist responding to. Perhaps your kids bust into your private office space. You might even see an advertisement that plunges you into an online shopping spree. 

In an ideal world, these disruptions wouldn’t happen. And when you’re working from home, the barriers that would keep you from goofing off are significantly relaxed. You need to be proactive.

Make a habit of turning your notifications off before beginning work. In your online calendar, let your colleagues and members of your inner circle know the times when you are unavailable. That way, they won’t schedule meetings with you when you’re trying to be productive. 

3. Dedicate Spaces for Major Routines

When working from home, don’t spend the majority of the day in the same room. This can leave you feeling fatigued and make the different parts of your routine blur together. Switch up your environment based one what routine task you are doing. 

Try to carve out space for each of the major routines in your day. Perhaps you decide to:

  • Sleep in your bedroom
  • Exercise in your activity room or outdoors
  • Eat in your dining room
  • Work in your home office
  • Tutor the kids in their bedroom
  • Wind down in your living room

Your physical space is a cue for your mental space. When you walk into your kitchen, for example, you’ll know it’s time to cook. When you’re in your office, you’ll buckle down and work. You get the picture. 

4. Pick a Partner

Your routine may ultimately be your own, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Synchronizing your routine with someone else’s can fight a sense of isolation. Perhaps simply socializing with them is an important routine for you. 

Find an accountability partner, such as your spouse, a co-worker, or a friend. Ask what routines they follow, and describe the ones you want to follow. You don’t have to do every routine together, but do identify and work together on areas of overlap. Check in with one another daily to see how things are going and to provide encouragement. 

5. Reward Yourself

Sticking to a routine is a goal like any other. Giving yourself rewards for accomplishing that goal can motivate you to keep going. Giving yourself a treat boosts not just your energy, but surprisingly, your self-control as well. 

Rewards do not have to be big or flashy to work. Cooking yourself a nice dinner can be a reward, as can having a glass of wine after a long day. Consider coordinating rewards with your accountability partner: positive affirmations are simple, free ways you can reward one another.

Big Goals Take Small Routines

Not every routine is fun, but routines are critical if we want to reach our goals. If we can’t solidify our small, daily habits, we’ll never be able to accomplish the big things. The way we establish, maintain, and reinforce our routines is what makes them slip or stick. 

Why wait until the crisis is over? Pick one healthy habit you want to add to your life. Start something that will last even after you no longer need to work from home. 

8 Morning Routine Hacks to Kick-Start Your Productivity

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Morning Routine Hacks

Morning choices can make or break your day. Should you check your phone or hop in the shower? Should you make coffee or prepare lunch? 

These and many other choices can be paralyzing. And by the time you make a decision, your day is already thrown off kilter. 

If that experience feels familiar, it’s a sign that you need to inject some structure into your mornings. A consistent morning routine is just the thing to set a productive tone for the rest of the day.

Creating a successful routine comes down to two things: picking the right activities, and ensuring you have enough time to tackle them. Here’s how to do it:

1. Wake up Early 

They say the early bird catches the worm. And judging by the fact that many successful people wake up well before the workday begins, there must be some truth in that saying. 

If you get up early, you have time to go about your morning routine without feeling rushed. That sense of peace allows you to do important things like reading the news or practicing self-care — things that usually get sidelined when you’re in a time crunch.

2. Turn on the Light 

Are you having trouble waking up to just your alarm clock? Instead of hitting the snooze button, try using light. Your eyes have light receptors that detect brightness. Light automatically sends your brain a message that it’s time to wake up. 

Try keeping the curtains open and waiting for the sun to rise each morning. If you need help getting up before sunrise, look into wake-up light alarm clocks.

Switching this environmental cue could help change your body’s natural clock. If you’re used to waking up late, it’s an easy way to rewire your brain for early rising. 

3. Avoid Screen Time 

According to an IDC report, 80% of smartphone users check their devices within 15 minutes of waking up. In fact, that’s the last thing you should be doing when you wake up. 

Smartphones are filled with distractions that can keep you in bed longer than you should be. They interfere with your productivity by wasting valuable time.

Keep your phone out of your bedroom. That forces you to get out of bed and start your day before you can look at it. If you find yourself looking at it too frequently during the day, get an app to limit your access to certain apps or lock you out entirely. 

4. Meditate Productively

Try productive meditation in the morning to problem-solve. Cal Newport introduces the concept in his book “Deep Work”: Productive meditation is a way to find solutions to your problems while commuting or doing something physical, such as brushing your teeth. 

When practicing this, focus on the questions that arise from your problems. When you let questions marinate in your mind, answers will naturally bubble up to the surface. The perk of productive meditating is that the solution often comes to you when you least expect it. 

5. Exercise

Experts say that morning is the best time to exercise. An invigorating morning workout boosts your energy levels, starts your metabolism, and burns fat. All of these benefits contribute to a feeling of accomplishment and increased levels of productivity. 

You could do it in your home, go out for a run, or hit the gym before heading to work. Whatever you decide, squeeze at least 15 minutes of activity into your morning.

6. Eat a Healthy Breakfast 

It’s easy to downplay the importance of breakfast, especially when so many breakfast foods are filled with sugar. In addition to skin- and weight-related benefits, a healthy breakfast improves your cognitive performance and gives you the energy you need to be productive. 

Say “no” to pancakes, donuts, and sugary cereals. Build your breakfasts with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.

7. Set Daily Goals 

The happy feeling we get from accomplishing goals is priceless. But in order to accomplish goals, we need to be clear on what they are.

The morning is the perfect time to set your goals for the day. Write a realistic list of daily tasks, perhaps while you eat your healthy breakfast. Cross off items as you finish them during the day. 

Break down large tasks into smaller ones. For example, if you’re working on a 100-page business proposal, make it a goal to complete three pages per day, every day. Making steady progress encourages you to keep going when it gets tough.

8. Keep it Simple

There is so much that you can put in your morning routine. Don’t overdo it: Trying to do too much can be just as problematic as doing too little. 

It’s better to do a few things well than doing many things poorly. If you like to journal in the morning, great — but don’t expect to fit in exercise and a call to your mom, too. Keeping your routine simple helps you stay calm and focus on activities that actually matter to you.

Ultimately, your morning routine only needs to work for one person: you. Take what you need and leave the rest. Once you’ve found a routine that works for you, your morning becomes one less thing to worry about.

5 Tips for Integrating Mindfulness Into Your Workday

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Morning Routine

When you’re building a business from the ground up, it’s tough to slow down and smell the leads. But if you don’t, your mental health will start to show it. 

The success of your company starts with you. Both for your personal well being and for your performance as a leader, you have to make mindfulness part of work life. Here are some ways to do it:

1. Take better breaks.

As a founder or CEO, unplugging from work can feel downright irresponsible. In reality, refusing to give yourself downtime is even more dangerous.

Your core hours might be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but you’re probably doing something business-related soon after sunrise and well after sunset. That “always on” mentality is a fast track to burnout, and you can’t be an effective leader when you’re burned out. 

Make time during the workday to take breaks — real breaks. Working while you eat lunch does not count, nor does the walk you took to the microwave to warm up your meal. Each day, get a real lunch break away from your computer and, ideally, outside of your office. 

Smaller, periodic breaks during the day are just as important. Tony Schwartz, president of the Energy Project, recommends taking one every 90 minutes to increase your productivity and alertness.

2. Get up and move.

Exercise doesn’t just feel good; it’s a key self-care technique embraced by CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Elon Musk.

Find ways to incorporate light exercise into your workday. Use that post-meeting break to stretch at your desk. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Rather than call a co-worker, simply walk over to his or her cubicle.

Before or after work, get a real workout in. Although some studies suggest that aerobic exercise is best for mental health, do whatever is sustainable for you. If swimming, bicycling, or lifting weights is what gets you moving, go for it.

3. Schedule it on your calendar.

One of the best ways to make mindfulness part of your daily routine is to literally schedule time for it on your calendar. Not only does doing so help you hold yourself accountable, but it keeps others from impeding on your self-care time. 

Try blocking off just 15 minutes each morning for a quick meditation session. Alternatively, schedule one for times when you know you’ll feel stressed, like after each sales meeting. Search YouTube or use a meditation app to find a guided session you can listen to from your desk. 

If you’ve never meditated before, the process is pretty simple:

  • Identify a quiet space where you feel comfortable.
  • Sit in a cross-legged position or lie down.
  • Listen quietly, either to ambient noise or to a guide.
  • Let thoughts pass, noticing but not judging them.
  • If your attention wanders, bring it back to the sounds around you.

4. Breathe deeply.

Although many people meditate to the sound of their breath, paying attention to it all the time is an even better idea. Researchers have found deep breathing to reduce blood pressure, improve energy levels, and help the body to release stress.

To breathe in a deep, relaxing way:

  • Start every breath in your belly. 
  • Let your chest rise slowly, feeling the cool air enter your lungs.
  • Hold your breath for 1-2 seconds.
  • Slowly and completely release your breath.
  • Pause for 1-2 seconds before repeating the process.

While you’re sitting at your desk, breathe deeply and consistently throughout the day. When stress or anxiety creep up, acknowledge the feeling and take a few cleansing breaths. Notice the changes in your body when you breathe mindfully.

5. Be a single-tasker.

It’s natural to want to make the most of each day. But when you focus on too many tasks at one time, your brain gets overloaded and doesn’t function at its best. 

Rather than try to tackle multiple tasks at once, prioritize them. Tackle the more intensive, important one during your “magic hours.” Fill remaining slots in your schedule with second and subsequent tasks. If you can’t fit something in, it can wait until tomorrow. 

Nothing is more important than your mental health. Make mindfulness a priority during your workday, and you won’t just become a better version of yourself; you’ll also build your business into a better vision of itself.

8 Steps to Planning Digital Content in Less Time

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I’m a planner. I love writing things down and preparing myself for the work week in advance. Still, as a content producer myself, planning website content isn’t always an easy task.

When you do finally force yourself to sit down and start planning content for your website, blog, email list, etc. it can be a very time-consuming process. If the major brain dump method doesn’t work for you either, check out these 8 steps to planning digital content in less time.

Step 1: Use Current Copy as a Foundation

The best place to start is to look at your existing content for your business. Even if it sucks, you have someplace to start. Look at analytics to see which content resonated well with your audience and what didn’t.

For example, if you’ve been getting some great feedback on social media for a particular article, see if you can expand on the subject and plan to produce some follow-up content in the future. Keep a running list of topics whenever you gain inspiration or think of ideas that could be useful. It only takes a few minutes to do this each week and it’s the best way to jumpstart the content creation process.

Step 2: Make Sure You Understand Your Audience

Don’t waste time planning digital content before you get to know your target audience. Interact with them on social media, ask your email list questions, save helpful feedback, and ask your audience to a short market research survey every few months. 

This will help make the content planning and creation process much simpler because you’ll know who your audience is and what they want. Sometimes, I practically drive myself crazy trying to brainstorm content ideas. Ever since I started asking my audience what they wanted to see and listening to their recommendations, the digital content planning process has been pretty painless and quick.

If your audience is telling you multiple things, segment your website visitors into the primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences and determine how you’ll address their needs in future content types.

Step 3: Use a Calendar to Map Everything Out

If you’re planning digital content without a calendar, you’re doing it all wrong. Using a calendar tool can help you stay organized and begin to work ahead.

I like to set up days dedicated to brainstorming, outlining, creating/scheduling, polishing, and promoting. Yes, the content production process is pretty tedious, but having a solid plan laid out in writing can make all the difference.

Coming up with headlines and outlines at this stage is very important. It’s interesting to note that doing this in advance will literally cut a lot of time out of the content creation process and keep you focused so you can finish and release your content more efficiently.

By storing everything on a digital calendar, you can set reminders to hold yourself accountable for meeting specific deadlines and allowing yourself enough time to prepare what you need to complete the content.

Step 4: Work With Others

Ask others to help you research, edit and review when you’re planning digital content. This will save you a ton of time. For example, if you’re writing for search engines or trying to rank some of your web pages, you may want to have someone do SEO research. 

If you’re producing social media copy you may want to have a consult with a social media marketing expert to help you come up with a clear strategy so you don’t waste time making rookie mistakes.

This can be ongoing or just a one-time thing depending on your needs.

Step 5. Storytelling vs ‘Storyselling’

You don’t have to use your website to merely tell your own story. The stories that matter are those of the people who have used your products and services and found them beneficial.

Nobody is interested in knowing how wonderful a business you have. Give your audience results and evidence. The language you use should speak to them. Offer your products as the solution to their products.

One of the easiest ways I work storytelling into my digital content planning process is to simply be authentic. When I experience things or have conversations that I believe could be pivoted into inspiring content for my audience, I add the idea to my content calendar with a date and a brief outline. In less than 2 minutes, I have quality content planned that I can produce quickly.

Step 6. Write For Search Engines and Humans

SEO is important. However, crowding your content with too many keywords can only render it unreadable. Include the keywords as naturally as possible to avoid coming out as a robot. If anything, you don’t have to stick to your specific keywords. Use variations that will still give the same meaning.

As you’re planning your content for the web, it helps to determine a focus keyword ahead of time so you know what to base your content around. I like using the Google Adword Keyword Planner tool because it’s free and easy to use when you’re researching keywords and narrowing them down.

Step 7. Have an Action-Oriented Copy

All of your content should have a goal behind it. It’s likely that you want to help turn readers into leads and paying customers. To do this, you need to make sure you plan out content that has a clear call to action.

This will prompt your audience to do something. This is something I failed to do in the beginning stages when planning content for my business and I regretted it. It’s important to focus on providing value, but you also want to let people know what you want them to do. Is it to call you, email you, or make an online purchase? Show them the step they need to take next. Provide links or email address so that they can find it easy to reply and take action.

Step 8. Make It Visually Appealing

Content and visuals go hand-in-hand. When you’re planning digital content, be sure to include ideas for illustrations, charts, and images to support the text. Alternatively, use testimonials, bulleted lists or larger pull quotes. Divide sections with subheadings and use short paragraphs.

Again, planning all this out on a calendar will help you stay organized and on track. Remember, you don’t have to actually follow through will all of your ideas for content, images, SEO, etc. All you have to do is jot them down and organize them. 

The whole process can be done in under 20 minutes weekly or once a month as a huge content overhaul.

Do you plan out your content at all for your business? If so which one of these steps to you find most valuable?

 

Originally posted here.

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