Hey everyone, Derek here. After a brief hiatus, we should be back with weekly blog posts again.
This week's blog post is about using daily rituals to reduce stress. I've written about both of these before, but reducing stress is important enough that I think it's worth covering again and again.
Over time Rachel and I have picked up a few habits and practices that greatly help reduce stress and ensure that we get the most important things (the things I really need to do) done.
Although everyone has slightly different circumstances, I think these can be equally useful for many different walks of life.
In order to ensure that they happen, we have them scheduled into a few daily rituals. If you can schedule an evening, morning and perhaps after work ritual, it significantly decreases the mental burden required to remember various morning tasks and puts you on autopilot through the many mundane tasks so you can free your mind up for other mental tasks.
Right now Rach and I keep it pretty simple, however I wouldn't be surprised if we expand it a bit more in the future to make it even more automated.
For each 'ritual', I create a document for myself with my daily routine listed on it in order.
- Get up, pee, weigh-in
- Do HRV, write in my 5-Minute Journal and review To Do's for the day
- Make breakfast
- Brew coffee and sit down to write blogs content/create client programs
The key is to set it up with planning in the evening and the most important tasks early in the morning. For me this means having a cue card by my bed and writing down my #1 task for the next morning before I go to sleep and doing my 5-Minute Journal first thing in the morning.
I don't always follow the rituals to the letter, however when I do follow them I tend to be much more focused, less stressed and a lot more satisfied with what I've accomplished at the end of the day.
Now to the fun part: Figuring out how to make sure you actually follow it.
Personally, I find that this is the hardest part. Having a plan for a great day is awesome, but if you don't follow it, it's useless.
When I have had my most consistency it always starts with two things:
- Setting up the night before, and
- Avoiding social media, email and texting first thing in the morning
1. Setting Up the Night Before
I find that if I write out my plans for the morning the night before I am much more likely to follow them. Having my plans written out on a cue card or paper that I leave on my journal so it's the first thing I see when I finish my journaling ensures that I don't get distracted by anything else on my way.
All I have to do is remember to do my journal (which is intentionally placed very early in my morning.) and then a reminder is there for what I need to spend the rest of my morning on.
As an added bonus, writing down my To Do's for the morning organizes my mind so I can go to sleep peacefully and gets me excited to wake-up when the alarm goes off. Knowing that all I need to do to feel accomplished is get that #1 task (anything from working out to writing to reading - whatever your primary goal is) done makes it very easy to wake up motivated.
2. Avoiding Social Media, Email and Texting
More important however than what I plan to do, is what I avoid doing. I find if I go on my phone and check texts or social media before doing my morning routine it will completely throw off my day. If I start my day by giving into the temptation to check my phone I'll often have a cascade of poor decisions and be much less focused throughout the day.
As with everything I set out to do in the morning, I find that setting up properly the night before is the key to success.
If I put my phone on airplane mode at night, (added bonus you won't have any lights, rings or dings waking you up all night) I am much more likely to avoid checking Twitter/Instagram or my email in the morning.
Instead of waking up to notifications of messages, Tweets and Facebook comments, I have to go through the process of turning airplane mode off to see any new messages. Usually the process of turning airplane mode takes long enough for me to remember my commitment to avoiding checking until after my #1 task is done and I put my phone back down and get to work.
Once again, I'll reference Tim Ferriss' The Not To Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now:
"Do not e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night
The former scrambles your priorities and plans for the day, and the latter just gives you insomnia. E-mail can wait until 10am, after you’ve completed at least one of your critical to-do items…"
Nothing is THAT important that it can't wait until 10am. Get your #1 critical task done, whether that's working out, writing or reading, and then feel free to email, Tweet and Instagram your day away, knowing you've already completed your most important task for today.