The first 20 minutes of your day. Have you ever stopped long enough to consider how you’re spending them? And why it matters?
As a long-standing, natural early riser (#5amclub, anyone?) I’m a firm believer that how we start our day can be absolutely crucial to our wellbeing and success.
Even if you’re not a morning person - whatever time you choose to face the world – creating a morning ritual and harnessing the first 20 minutes and investing them wisely can make a marked difference to your day.
By creating simple habits that we can implement daily, it will lead to greater health, well-being and success in the short and long-term.
It goes without saying that spending the first 20 minutes of your day hitting ‘snooze’, groggily scrolling through social media, or watching the negative news on morning TV may not be the healthiest habits for us.
In fact, hitting the snooze button to grab those extra few minutes of sleep can often make you feel more tired, and often more stressed and anxious as you start the day feeling rushed.
Refocusing and making some defined decisions about your morning ritual and how you use the first 20 minutes of your day helps you prioritise the investment in your health and wellbeing before the day takes over.
Here are a few activities to consider investing in, within the first 20 minutes of your day, that could boost your mood and adjust your trajectory. I speak from trial, error and experience!
We’ve all heard it before - exercising in the morning can help kick-start your day the right way. Exercise helps centre us, releases endorphins to help boost our wellbeing and overall feelings of happiness. Research also shows that those who exercise first thing in the morning can be more likely to stick to their routines, helping them achieve their health goals faster.
Setting aside some quiet time for meditation and self-reflection can bring a great peace to your day. I find beginning my morning with a calm approach helps me to reduce stress and anxiety, and handle the inevitable frustrations or problems the day might throw my way.
Consider what material you’re reading when you first wake up. Sometimes checking our emails or scanning social media first-thing can be detrimental to our mental health. Many successful people devote 20 minutes or more to reading every day - developing skills, passions, interests and general knowledge. The investment in reading books that enhance your life will pay off!
Write Down Your Daily Goals
Authors of the wildly successful ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, attribute much of their success to the habit of writing down their major goals daily. Taking a few minutes daily to write down your goals can help prioritise your day, keeping the most important things in your life top of mind.
I try to find three things every day that I can single out and be grateful for. It helps to put me in the right frame of mind - and to maintain the right perspective throughout the day. You can simply sit and think about three things, or write them down - but get grateful for what you’ve got in life! It can change how you process every positive and negative experience throughout your day.
Plan The Big Rocks First
What are your personal values - or 'big rocks'? When I plan the big rocks first, prioritising my daily activities in line with my personal values (like spending time with family), it ensures I make time for what’s most important, before the small issues - the pebbles, sand and water of the day - take over. This is different to goal setting - it’s about planning daily activities around your values before unexpected, smaller issues try to distract you.
In my years in the fitness and personal development space, I have found the regular implementation of the energy psychology technique of Tapping has helped me powerfully create lasting and permanent change. It can help me find answers, lower the level of cortisol in my body and allow me to think more clearly - releasing any stress or anxiety. It could be a technique for you to try, too.
These are some of the investments I’ve made in the first 20 minutes of my day, over many years, that has become part of my success strategies. In fact, they are part of my 2 and 20 Principle - which has become my number one strategy to create lasting personal transformation.
Feature Image: Erika Yin for Grazia