Where Will Your Day Take You?


Five things you should be doing every morning to excel at work and in life!

By Roger Young

The alarm goes off. You roll out of bed and shuffle toward the kitchen to brew a cup of courage to face the day. Soon after you’re off and running to your first meeting, quickly followed by the next, and then the next, interrupted only by occasional notifications alerting you to the growing size of your Inbox.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of jumping straight into action, chasing the illusion that one day soon you will finally get ahead. At a minimum, you’re very busy and you get stuff done. Sometimes a lot of stuff. So much so that you are deluded into thinking you are productive. Unfortunately, on an average day you’ll work 11.8 hours, only 25% of which actually generates any meaningful results. In other words, most of our days are spent on unproductive activities- reading news websites, discussing non-work-related things with colleagues, online shopping. The average person spends almost two hours a day on social media. The biggest culprits come disguised in a package that equates busyness with productivity. How many unnecessary meetings do you attend every week? How many of those are recurring meetings and you continue to show up each time? How many times a day do you check your email?

Are you ready to flip your script? Surprisingly, it doesn’t take much to not only maximize your productivity but to do so with greater fulfillment and satisfaction. The answer starts with getting grounded. The concept of being grounded is not a new one. Psychologists have long touted the benefits of being more connected to who we are, how we feel, and what’s most important in our lives. It emanates from being present, centered and balanced despite the chaos going on around you. And let’s face it, these days things seem pretty chaotic and uncertain and we can feel our sense of control slipping away. Granted, there are lots of things we can’t control. But there are plenty of things we can. That’s where getting grounded starts.

Here are five things you should be doing each morning to excel at work and in life. Take the time to identify the following:

Big 1: Your Biggest Priority

Before you launch into action, take a moment at the beginning of each day to identify your Big 1- the number one priority for the day. If you get nothing else done but this, your day will be a success. Your biggest priority should be tied to an important goal- whether it’s personal or professional. Some days, your Big 1 may fall into the category of “stuff that has to get done”- filing your taxes, completing healthcare enrollment forms, or getting a broken water heater replaced. Most days, it should be an action that contributes toward a meaningful goal in one of the key facets of your life- crafting a proposal to secure a new client, writing a job description for a critical role, planning a long overdue family vacation, or creating a fitness plan to lose those last 10 pounds. Identify your biggest priority for the day, then block the time you need to make significant progress or to complete the task.

2 Excite: Two Things You’re Excited About

Most days include things you have to do, but every day should include at least two things you want to do! The mere activity of writing down what excites you about the day elevates your energy and generates a more optimistic mindset. Things don’t need to be big to be exciting. Going to your daughter’s softball game. Watching the season finale of your favorite show. Reading a book by your favorite author. Scoring great tickets to the Broadway production of Hamilton. Ok, well maybe that’s a big thing! What do you find exciting? Maybe it’s an activity you enjoy so much that you lose track of time. Perhaps it’s something you loved doing as a child that still sparks joy, like riding a bike, or building a sandcastle. It could be a last-minute invitation to join a friend for dinner. Or your mother-in-law cancelling her long-planned visit. The more you can find excitement in the little things, the happier and more contented you’ll feel. Only 10% of our happiness is based on external success. While getting a new job with a big title is exciting, it won’t contribute to the long-term happiness that comes from enjoying the work that comes with it. Start each day centering yourself in what brings you joy by identifying two things that you’re excited about and watch your energy rise.

3 For Me: Three Things I Will Do for Myself

“Others ahead of self” is the slogan for my kids’ school. It’s a great guiding principal for shaping young minds and cultivating compassionate students who learn to lead by serving others ahead of themselves. Doing something to help another person stimulates the brain’s pleasure pathways and makes you feel good. It’s a win-win scenario. Until it isn’t. Until you find yourself putting the needs of others ahead of your own. Many of us struggle with the idea of putting ourselves first and feel guilty doing something that solely benefits us. We see it as being selfish or self-centered. So what’s the right answer? Is there a formula to strike the perfect balance between being selfish and selfless? The internet is overflowing with lists of “50 Small Things to do Every Day” or “22 Tiny Things You Should do for Yourself Every Day”. I’ve found it doesn’t take anywhere close to those numbers to have a significant impact on the quality of your life. Start with just three. Three things you will do for yourself. Consider doing things that align with your goals. Well-being goals? Hit the gym for a workout. Leisure goals? Schedule a golf lesson. Again, these don’t need to be huge, monumental things. Get your nails done. Take your lunch break outside. Roll through the Starbucks drive-through for a pumpkin-spiced anything.

Grateful 4: Four Things I Am Grateful For

Renowned author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar famously said, “The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” Starting your day with an attitude of gratitude has a disproportionally huge impact on how focused, productive and energized your feel throughout the day. Start each day by identifying four things for which you are grateful. The usual suspects include your family, friends, healthy, home, job, and pets. But gratitude can spring from much less likely places. Your old car that still got you to work this morning. Your kids not spotting that last popsicle in the freezer. Going for a walk on an unseasonably warm afternoon. The unused UberEATS gift card you find under your desk. Our brains are incapable of being in a state of gratitude and fear at the same time. The two cannot coexist since they emanate from disconnected areas of the brain. The best way to set yourself up for a productive day is to start with a focus on what you are grateful for.

5 To Thrive: Five things that need to get done

Most of us have days that are packed with things to do. Some of these are work-related and some are personal. Some need to be done today, while others can wait until tomorrow. Some don’t have any hard and fast due dates at all and fall into the category of Nice to Do instead of Need to Do. Creating a “To Do” list is a powerful way to help you stay focused while keeping track of all you need to accomplish throughout the day. However, there is a catch. Creating lengthy “To Do” lists with no end in sight and no prioritization can leave you feeling even more scattered. Instead, start each day by narrowing your focus to the five most important things you need to get done that day.

You can get through your day uninspired, unfocused and unintentional, or you can start your day grounded with greater focus, energy and purpose. Establishing an effective morning routine that includes these five actions is a game-changer.

Download this tool to help you start each day focused, energized, and ready to excel at work and in life!