For those of us in the southern hemisphere at least, we’re at that time of the year where we’ve had a holiday, it’s summer and we’re a little in cruise mode, easing our way into work, and perhaps the workload hasn’t picked up yet. Things feel quite easy to keep in balance. That makes it a perfect time to start putting some simple practices in place that ensure balance and calm (and all the good things that come with that like better energy and more thinking power) – before it gets busy and before you really need them.
So here are five simple practices that will bring more balance to your day. Try on one each day for the next five days, and see what difference they make to you. I’d love to hear what you discover!
Let’s start creating more balance in your day by starting at the start – the very first thing you do in your day. It’ super simple … and I’m going to suggest how to make this work logistically too – yes, good old post-it notes! Setting clear intentions for your day immediately puts you in the driver’s seat. I’m constantly amazed at the difference this very small action can make in a given day.
When you wake up in the morning, or while you’re in the bathroom getting ready, simply finish these two statements for yourself:
Today, the 1-3 things I am most intent on achieving are …
The “Me” I’m taking into my day is … (eg. focused, calm, excited, open, ready for action …)
[Write these starter sentences on a post-it or card and put them by your bed or mirror. Even better, have a pad of post-its handy to jot down your answers.]
Last week I had one of my most productive days for a while – and get this, I was only in the office for four hours all up. It’s really not about the quantity of hours, but the quality of the actions. In my recent Life the Right Way Up planning day, we talked a lot about quality action. Quality action means doing what needs to be done, what will make the biggest difference and no more. It’s easy to dive into your Inbox or your to-list and not come up for air for hours, and then to feel like you’ve not accomplished much. And that’s a horrible feeling. Do not be tempted by the hamster wheel, just so you can feel busy, important and good enough.
Begin your day by identifying what is the most important next thing to do (as my Dad say’s ‘that’ll be MINT’ – Most Important Next Thing. Do that, then pause, re-check, and go again. Simple. But so easy to get wooed into other things and feel at the whim of others agendas. Be brutal. Keep your hands on your steering wheel and make it MINT.
Obeying the 60 Second Rule
Somewhat connected to quality action is the 60 Second Rule. It says: you can accomplish 60 seconds of activity inside 60 seconds, or 60 minutes of activity inside 60 minutes. Simple enough. But how often do we break this rule??!! I am always breaking it! I have got better over time at catching myself and re-checking what is actually doable in the time I have. It takes some getting used to, but it is sooo worth it. I know my gut starts tingling nervously the moment I’m trying to fit too much in. That’s my signal to dial it back and reset.
So, reality-check your to-do list for do-ability before you start the day. If it’s feeling dodgy (trust your body to signal that for you) then tweak it until it feels right, then begin. Tweaking could mean taking something out and moving it into tomorrow, deleting it altogether, or extending the time you’ve allowed for it.
PLUS (TOP TIP!) Reset your to-do’s. If something comes up during the day that needs your attention or deadline changes, etc resist the temptation to just plough on and push through and instead take time to reset. Pause. Breathe. Re-prioritise. Go again. It might take 30-90 seconds to do this, and it will make all the difference to the rest of your day.
If you’ve ever got to the end of a piece of work or suddenly needed to get up from your computer to let someone in the door and realised how foggy your head is, you’ll know what I’m talking about here. Sitting at a computer screen, exposed to the radiation it gives off, processing the bright visual screen and the high level of detail on the screen is, well, a lot for your body to process – mentally, emotionally and in the energy field around your whole body. And all of these parts of you interact with each other, just like any system. Giving your body a chance to refresh and then go again really helps how effective you are when you are at your computer, and will certainly have you feeling better through the day – and at the end of the day.
Aim to do this at least twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon: Turn away from your computer screen, swivel your chair, walk to the water cooler/kitchen – give your whole body a pause from the intensity of being at the computer. Simple. And so easy to gloss over and not do it. So do it, ok? [If you need a reminder, try a trusty post-it on your desk or set a reminder on your phone with a friendly pop-up.]
We are at our most energetic self when we are fully inhabiting our body, and not stuck up in our head in thinking-thinking mode (as opposed to thinking-being mode). When our whole body is calmer and our energy centred, we are much more tuned into our intuition, make better decisions and experience more ease and flow. Use your breath to check you’re fully in your body, and this will also help with taking the useful pauses through the day alluded to in the accompanying tips here.
Take three slow, low breaths in through the soles of your feet, imagining your body is filling with clear, fresh energy and light. Breathe out, letting go of anything less than useful. Letting go is as important as breathing in. Repeat 2 more times.
Feel how the awareness in your body shifts. If you need to, take three more breaths, in through the souls of your feet, and luxuriate for a moment in the centering effect of coming more fully into your body.
Let me know how you go!