“Start as you mean to go on!”. A saying that, while over 200 years old, is still used as a mantra by many of the world’s most successful people today. But why?
Research has shown that starting your day in the best possible way not only enhances productivity, but also leads to increased feelings motivation, achievement and self-esteem.
So what habits can you get into to ensure your day gets off to a great start?
1) Wake up early. Really early
It might not sound pleasant but many of the world’s most successful people swear waking up early is a key factor in their success – and happiness. Being one of the only people awake at 5am means they can do what they want without any distractions. Whether that’s exercise, work, or reading - they take advantage of the early hours to get some ‘me’ time.
This one seems to be the latest craze and for a reason – it works. When you wake up in the morning, before you do anything else, start to write down all the thoughts in your head. These could be anything from habitual, stressful or happy thoughts to thoughts about all the things you have to do that day. It could be ideas or stories or dreams – real or imaginary. Think of it as a brain dump. The purpose? To clear the mind so you can start your day feeling free and ready to focus on what lies ahead.
Meditation used to be thought of this “woo woo” thing that only hardcore yoga lovers and hippies used to do. This is no longer the case. With more and more scientific data confirming the positive effects of meditation on both our physical and emotional well-being, it seems everyone is jumping on the meditation band-wagon. From the billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio to Larry Brilliant (ex-Google CEO) to Oprah Winfrey – many of the world’s most successful people advocate the practice of meditation on their daily lives.
The physical benefits of exercise have been well-documented for years. What’s been hitting the headlines in more recent years is the extensive list of benefits it has on our minds – and our emotions.
More and more research is showing there is evidence of a mind-body connection. That changing our physical state (through movement) can have an automatic effect on our mental and emotional state. Even a simple change in posture can help change the way someone feels. A qualified personal trainer can help you discover the right types of exercises for you.
5) Making a to-do list
The most productive people always start their day by making a to-do list. Prioritise them and make sure you that you tackle the stuff you don’t like doing at the time of day when you are most energetic. Otherwise you run the risk of constantly procrastinating and pushing it to the next day, and then the next, and the next…
6) Block your time
After you’ve made your to-do list, block time in your calendar to carry out each tasks. This includes blocking time for emails, social media and breaks. And I mean breaks. Breaks from work, social media, email and general technology. For some more advice on how to structure your day, read this article from Travis Bradberry, an American author on the subject of emotional intelligence.
7) Eat a healthy breakfast
Starting the day with a nutritious and balanced meal containing complex carbohydrates, proteins and good fats is not only good for your energy levels, but psychologically sets a precedence for the rest of the day. While we’re celebrating the Holy Month of Ramadan, healthy eating at Suhoor will help manage your blood glucose levels throughout the fasting period more so than a sugary meal. For more advice on healthy eating during Ramadan, these articles outline healthy food choices at iftar and suhoor.