Over the last couple of years, I’ve read numerous books on improving personal productivity. I’m interested in learning and putting into practice what the experts do and recommend to operate at their highest performance level.
One item that has come up repeatedly is starting the day with planning and solitude. Why? By starting the day off right, you win the morning. And by winning the morning, it puts you in the best position possible to win the day.
Planning and solitude is how you tend the garden of your mind on a daily basis. There are variations on what you should do during this time, but they all involve some combination of the following: sitting quietly, engaging in meditation or prayer, planning the events of the day, setting a daily intention, journaling, practicing gratitude, reciting affirmations, and reading motivational or inspirational books.
What, which, and how many of these things you do in the morning is not the most important part of the process. You need to develop a routine that works best for you.
The key is to start your day with your routine BEFORE turning on your phone, checking emails and social media, turning on the television, or reading the news. When you start with one (or more) of these things, you immediately let others control your day. It’s important to break these habits and avoid them. You need to take charge of your day rather than letting others do it.
I know what you’re probably thinking – I’m too busy to add more activities to my day. If that’s you, then I strongly suggest that you adopt a morning routine of solitude and planning.
Solitude and planning creates the space and focus that adds time to your day. According to personal productivity expert Brian Tracy, every minute spent planning the day can increase productivity by as much as ten minutes. In other words, as little as 10-15 minutes of planning in the morning could get you back up to 2 hours of time throughout the day. (if you’re struggling on how to start, here’s 3 things he suggests doing each day that may help you get started.)
I’ve developed my own morning routing that involves reading, meditating, journaling, and planning. It takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes for me to complete the process. I can’t speak to exactly how much time it returns to me. What I find is that my routine keeps me more centered, focused, and productive throughout the day. More importantly, it puts me in control of my mind and my day rather than others. And most of all, by winning the morning, I find it that much easier to win the day!