Starting Your Day In A Positive Way

Have you ever noticed how the first few hours after waking up can determine how you feel for the rest of the day? If you've ever found yourself saying "It's going to be one of those days", you know exactly what I mean. A few bad experiences in the early hours can drag your whole day down, to the point where everything seems to be going wrong.

Here's a few strategies for preventing this from happening.

1) Wake up earlier than you need to

If you travel any distance to work, it's important to wake up earlier than you need to. A stressful drive to the office, or missing your bus by a few seconds can really ruin your day. Leave plenty of time for getting ready and eating. As a rule of thumb, if you don't have time to eat a proper breakfast before working, you're not leaving enough time.

2) Review your goals and task lists

The more in control of your life you feel, the happier you are. Keeping a close eye on your goals and tasks keeps everything fresh in your mind, and you're much less likely to forget about them. Not only that, but it allows you to review things and to quickly spot troubles. And it puts you in a positive frame of mind.

3) Read your affirmations

Before I tried using affirmations, I thought they were a waste of time. However, having experimented with them I've found them to be an invaluable tool for improving my mood. Stick to two or three simple ones, such as “I have abundant energy” or “I make effective use of my time”.

Think of affirmations as a kind of mental scaffolding. They're useful for keeping you internally positive and uplifted until you can change your external situation.

4) Read something uplifting

Rent autobiographies of people you admire from the library. When you come across a good article on the Internet, print it off and read it later. Not only will this help reduce the amount of time surfing the net, but it creates your own personal library that you can refer to time and again.

Keep a highlighter handy when you're reading them, so you can mark any important points. Review these later and make your own set notes.

5) Listen to something uplifting

If reading isn't your thing, rent some audiobooks or listen to podcasts. There's a wealth of personal development podcasts out there, and the advantage is that you can do something else whilst listening to them. Such as exercise…

6) Do some exercise

Twenty to thirty minutes of simple exercises in the morning gets your blood flowing and improves your mood. It doesn't have to be too strenuous, and some light skipping or a gently jog around your area is just as effective.

Remember what you've achieved

So you've been up for just over and hour, and you've already managed to review your goals, read your affirmations and done some exercise. Sounds much better than stuffing down a slice of toast and running for the train…

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3 Simple Time Management Tips

Managing your time is one of the most valuable skills you can learn. We all have the same amount of hours in a day, yet some people seem to be able to get much more done in the same amount of time. Whilst this could be down to some form of time machine, it's much more likely that they've mastered the art of time management.

Even if you feel like you'll never get anything completed, there are a few simple things you can do to get yourself started.

1. Know what needs to be done

You can't really start managing your time until you know exactly what you need to be getting done. Setting goals is a great way of deciding where you want to go, but you still need to break it down into smaller chunks that you can actually do.

If you've set yourself a goal, grab some paper, write your goal in the middle and then list all of the tasks you'll need to do before it's completed. You don't have to think of everything, but it will give you a much firmer plan to work with. Once you've listed your ideas, write them down in the order you want to complete them. Some might be more urgent than others, or might yield the greatest return. For example, doing a bit of research at the start might reveal some sticking points that you can avoid (and save time).

Finally, estimate how long you think each task will take. It's always best to over-estimate these, as there are usually unexpected complications. I find it helpful to write down how long things actually took once they're done so I can estimate better in the future.

2. Monitor your time

I've written about using time logs before, and they're a really easy way of getting a grip on where your time goes. If you use a computer a lot, you've probably had days where you've been "just checking" your email but ended up wasting lots of time. Once you see just how much time you've spent on surfing the web, it can be quite sobering.

All you need to do to get started is grab a sheet of paper and note down when you start each task and when you finish it. Remember, you're not just noting down work tasks but everything. Getting up to make tea/coffee, answering the phone and "checking emails" all count. It might sound trivial, but it's these trivial tasks that can take up your time.

After a week or two, you'll have a firm idea of what's taking up your time and you can start doing something about it. Sometimes just the act of keeping a time log will make you more effective, as it makes you resist the urge to procrastinate as you know it'll be noted down!

3. You can't do everything

Nobody dies with an empty to-do list. There will always, always be some things you won't be able to do. Whether it's a simple project or going into space, it's a fact that you will have to sacrifice some things in order to do others.

It can be difficult to turn projects down, so to ease yourself into it keep a separate list of projects on the back burner. Once the initial excitement has worn off, the project might not seem like such a good idea after all.

Another way of giving yourself some extra time is delegating your work to someone else. You can either give it to a friend or relative, or hire someone from an outside agency to help. This isn't just a strategy for big jobs either. Even something simple like mowing the lawn can be outsourced. There are always people looking for a little extra cash, so keep an eye out for them and reward them for their work.

Good time management doesn't happen overnight

Creating the habits of good time management takes time and effort. No amount of tips and tweaks can suddenly make you super-efficient (I wish they could!), but if you take things one step at a time you can build upon your successes. Over time you'll become more experienced at recognising time sappers, and you'll have developed the strategies for dealing with them.

Posted in: Time Management | Comments (1)