I am a huge advocate for “setting the stage.” What I mean by this is organizing yourself and the objects around you to make your life easier and to support success. When dealing with big projects, this means drawing up a plan and figuring out how best to tackle it. Another example of setting the stage is the commonly taught approach to writing a paper – research, capture notes, organize information into content groups and then compile them into a single document.
Even though people may apply the concept of setting the stage to projects and tasks, few consider setting the stage for a successful day. In actuality, I suspect that many people have stumbled into these habits without thinking much about why. This was the case for me. I set morning and night routines without truly considering them. I knew I liked them and chalked that up to being a creature of habit. Later when I began studying the habits of wealthy and successful people, I understood that they took similar approaches to their mornings and nights. I made the choice to improve and solidify my routines to better emulate those I read about.
- Wake Early – I am up by 5:20 a.m. on weekdays and 7 a.m. on weekends. I have found that getting up early gives me a moment of peace before anybody else awakes. I use this time to complete the next two items. I also enjoy the solitude. On the weekend, I use this jump start on the day to get my chores completed before lunch so that the afternoon is set aside for recreation.
- Imagine Your Perfect Day – I spend about 3-5 minutes praying to God and expressing gratitude for the life and family I’ve been given. I turn over to Him the tasks and responsibilities I’m most stressed about and ask for clear guidance. Then I send blessings to specific people I’m worried about. Usually for them to feel a release from their stresses, healing or simply to feel His loving embrace. I tend to do this before I’ve turned all the lights on, usually while I’m sipping my first cup of coffee and waiting for the kids to yell for me.
- Consider What You Want to Get Done – This is the step where I do a mental check down of the important tasks of the day. This is my time to remind myself of the things that must get done. I tend to do this while I make breakfast since I eat nearly the same thing every day I can make that on auto-pilot.
- Pick-up and Declutter – The point here is to get your home sufficiently cleaned that it does not disrupt you while working if you work from home, or so that it allows you to arrive to a comfortable space after a day in the office. My home is my sanctuary and I want it to feel that way, especially after a busy day. I leverage this idea before vacations too. Before we leave, I do a thorough cleaning. It warms my heart to come home from travel to a tidy home with the people I love most.
- Pick-up and Declutter – This is along the same vein as my morning pick-up. It usually consists of putting toys away, doing dishes and wiping away any remnants of dinner. Just as I love to come home to a tidy home, I love to wake up to a tidy home. Plus whatever I get done at night is one less thing to do in the morning.
- Prep the Coffee – One of the best wedding gifts we received was a coffee maker with a brew timer. Who doesn’t love waking up to a fresh cup a joe. In the same spirit, I prepare a sippy cup of milk for both my kiddos so that they can also have a drink first thing in the morning – without me having to do so much as turn on a light.
- Layout Items for a Smooth Morning – For me this includes prepping my lunch bag, my daughter’s spare clothes backpack (which thankfully is becoming less and less important), laying out what the kids will wear, and prepping my work bag so that I don’t have look for anything in the morning.
- Express Gratitude – I finish my day by writing down the three things or events that I experienced during the day that I am grateful for. I keep this journal on my nightstand so that I see it every night and never forget this final step of the day.
One item not included and which I want to incorporate during 2016 is exercise. Exercise is something I see on the must-do list of nearly every highly success person. Before having kids I exercised regularly. I am motivated to get back into those habits now that the kids are a little more independent.
The results I’ve experienced from the above routines include clarity on what I want, less stress overall, and an increased resolve to achieve my goals. Not to mention that I simply feel happier. How could I not? Setting the stage is all about making things easier so that you can have improved peace of mind in the future.