How To Start The Day

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I started planning my new work regime for 2014 in mid-December last year. Unfortunately, probably like a lot of other people, it’s still not started! However I came across an infographic recently (see above) which helpfully reminded me of a few basics plus adding some new viewpoints.

My comments, from left to right:

(Twain) Worst/hardest thing first – I can still clearly remember a Japanese collaborator telling me to always start the day with the task you’re least looking forward to – this is surprising as this was over 30 years ago! I do this sporadically but it’s excellent advice. In the infographic above it’s the hardest thing first, which is a bit different but similar.

(Robbins) Visualising the day – I’ve never actually done this, so something to try. I’ve tried visualising my future (in five years time and so on) but have never found that very compelling. Perhaps a shorter term period, like a day or week, might work?

(Obama) Working out – when I started to work freelance one of the first things I did was to buy myself an exercise bike. I’ve found that using it at the start of the day certainly made a big (positive) impact. However, in hindsight, my exercise expectations were too unrealistic to make it stick, so I’ll aim for more modest aspirations in the next few weeks. Hopefully it’ll become a habit.

(Karp) Real work versus email/feeds/twitter – looking at info is the the first thing I do most days and, one way and another, it seems to take at least an hour and then it’s throughout the day. I’ve attempted to delay looking but have always failed. However I’m now going to try this for a week to see if I can manage it.

(Newmark) Customers first – currently, for me, this is something rather indirect as I’m (in the main) spending my time writing a book. However it’ll be interesting and hopefully motivating to start to think this way – see also here.

(Jobs) Why are you doing any of this anyway? That’s a hard one! I guess, even if it’s a seemingly small step, like finishing a book section, it’s still leading to something worthwhile and fulfilling when browsing emails and news feeds (and procrastinating in general) isn’t.

The overall feel I get from the advice above is that it’s important to dictate the pace of the day rather than having it determined for you and this is best done by taking a step away from it several times during the day. Tools and systems are secondary and can often be a distraction in themselves.

As an aside, you often read that habits take 21 days to establish. Not unsurprisingly giving any date for this is questionable, although a daunting 66 days seems to be the current best estimate – see here:

The bottom line is: stay strong. 21 days is a myth; habit formation typically takes longer than that. The best estimate is 66 days, but it’s unwise to attempt to assign a number to this process. The duration of habit formation is likely to differ depending on who you are and what you are trying to do. As long as you continue doing your new healthy behaviour consistently in a given situation, a habit will form. But you will probably have to persevere beyond January 21st.

Picture credit: here.

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