This little card was a timely reminder for me; maybe it will be for you too.
The challenge, of course, is how? How do you manage to run your day and not let it run you? Logically, you have to find a way to get in front of things. So, here are three simple suggestions for increasing the amount of each day that you run.Start mindfully. We know that mindset is crucial to performance. So it makes sense to get that right first thing. Even if it's only ten minutes at the start of your day. You'll find that even those ten minutes provide some space to think positively, to breathe properly and to establish an intentional mindset. It's a tiny but valuable investment in 24 hours of living. And it sure beats starting your day with someone else's email demands or the quiet rebuke of yesterday's unfinished to-do list.
(Need help starting the day mindfully? Try the Headspace app - it gives you ten sessions free.)"Mindsets are just beliefs," Carol Dweck reminds us. "They're powerful beliefs, but they're just something in your mind, and you can change your mind ... think about where you'd like to go and which mindset will take you there."2
Check your feet. Yes, we started with the mind and now we're talking about your feet. Because it's hard to run your own day if your feet aren't pointed in the direction you need to run. Getting your mindset organised will most likely send a useful directional message. It's no accident that we often say we feel like we're being pulled in too many directions.In her book, Emotional Agility, Susan David calls it "walking your why" - working through each day in a way that's consciously aligned to what matters most. (See "start mindfully"...) She notes how confusing and exhausting it gets "facing the world each day with everything up for grabs" versus walking in a way that's aligned to what we value. "It helps you place your feet in the right direction as you journey through life, no matter where life leads you."3
In any moment, where your feet are currently pointing is a good indication of what you are currently focused on and committed to - that is, where you are heading. So are they aligned with your values, your priorities, your intended direction for the day, the week, the year? Your next step is likely going to follow your last; just as today's direction is likely to follow yesterday's.First things first. It's an oldie but it remains true. When you think clearly (starting mindfully) and set a clear strategic direction for yourself (check your feet) you can probably identify what really matters. And it's probably not 55 emails.
"The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities," advised the late Stephen Covey. His four-quadrant "urgent/important" grid remains an essential tool for understanding priorities and productivity.4"The single most important change you can make in your working habits is to switch to creative work first, reactive work second," says creativity coach Mark McGuiness.5
It's the mindful choice to approach each day with intent and direction (a clear "why") that enables us to put first things first and helps ensure that you'll run your day rather than having it run you.
Aubrey WarrenSituational Leadership® Master Trainer and Australia and New Zealand Affiliate for the Center for Leadership Studies
© Copyright Aubrey Warren 2017
5. McGuiness, M. (2013). Laying the groundwork for an effective routine, in Glei, J. (Ed.) Manage Your Day to Day. Amazon Publishing.