How to take charge of your day and your goals in just ten minutes a day.
Who wouldn’t like to feel more grounded, be more focused, and feel less stress? Not only is it key to being and feeling your best, it’s critical for avoiding overwhelm and overeating. The problem is, the times when we most need help getting anchored and clear and calm, are usually the times when we have the fewest resources to spare.
Let’s get real. I don’t know about you, but I need a plan for the days when I can’t meditate for 45 minutes, take a hike in the mountains, or spend a morning getting organized. I need a plan that works – and helps me work – when the going gets tough.
I need a plan that keeps me from being vulnerable to triggers and allows me to be pro-active and in charge of my choices.
No matter how busy I am, I can reasonably carve out 10 minutes. When I’m unfocused or stuck, that’s the minimum time I’ll lose zoning out, pursuing the wrong task, or switching from one thing to another. I’ve learned that if I do it right, ten minutes can be enough to positively impact me, my goals, and how I feel about my day.
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Let’s start with a little perspective:
Feeling grounded and focused doesn’t mean that you suddenly turn into Superwoman.
A routine happens when you aim for something do-able. Conveniently, do-able leads to achievement and completions, and this contributes to feeling of grounded and confident, and also builds momentum.
To get started, take a deep breath and consider whether it’s worth it to you to consistently invest ten minutes so that you’ll feel clearer, stronger, and more purposeful for the rest of your day. You good with this? Okay then.
For most people, success starts with a purposeful morning routine that puts them on the right path.
While there are always exceptions, there are some good reasons for positioning your ten minute routine in the morning.
- It allows you to set the tone for the rest of your day.
- You can use it to create clarity about how you will spend your time and energy for the day ahead of you.
- You are (hopefully) rested and thus have the opportunity to “pay yourself first” with your routine – before your energy and discipline are used up.
- Early mornings are usually easier times to own than other places in the day. You are less likely to be interrupted, derailed by other things that have come along, or double-booked.
That said, choose a time of day that works for you – one that you can count on consistently, where you can spend ten minutes focused solely on you and your needs. No multitasking, no distractions. Choose the time that will work and that will serve you the best.
Creating a routine practice for getting grounded, identifying your priorities, and checking in with yourself is key
It’s important to set up a routine – I recommend deciding to make this ten minute process a habit – one that will become as automatic as walking to the bathroom to brush your teeth or pouring a mug of coffee in the morning. This is why it’s so important to choose a time and a place that will work.
Especially in the beginning, you want to focus on easy. Completion and follow through are much more important than creating the most comprehensive, in depth plan that you can. Start with a goal of showing up for your ten minutes every day for two weeks. You can improve and expand from there.
You don’t have to be perfect to create a morning routine that grounds you and helps you focus.
You could spend the next six months reading people’s advice and the details of their morning routines. It would probably leave you feeling overwhelmed, under-achieving, and like you might have to quite your day job to make time for everything (trust me, I know). Your inner perfectionist may be already itching to add on a few more minutes, or combine your new ten minute routine with another new habit that could improve your character or your cardio capacity. Resist the urge. Start small and build effectiveness.
I suggest you start with the goal of spending ten minutes at the beginning of each day getting clearer on how you feel, how you want to feel, what you need, and how you want to spend your time and energy, so that you can be more pro-active and effective in your life.
Once you put THIS into place, you’ll be clearer on whether you need or want any other moving parts.
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Choose no more than one or two goals for your perfect ten minute me-time routine.
From personal experience (and helping hundreds of women with this), here are some goals you might want to consider:
- Starting the day from a place of calm relaxation – quieting inner noise and tension
- Setting in motion thoughts and thought patterns that create confidence and effectiveness and avoiding self-sabotaging thinking and behavior
- Starting your morning with a pro-active plan so that you run your day instead of it running you – and so you have a plan for what you need over the next 24 hours
- Having time and space to set intentions for the day
Choose ONE goal to start with and then ONE practice – even if you feel tempted to dive into a morning routine that’s filled with meditation, a workout, a green smoothie, some journaling, and some inspirational reading. Curb your over-achiever and set in motion the ONE thing that calls to you most right now.
Now that you have your goal, design a two week experimental morning practice.
You know yourself better than anyone, so start with your ideas of what might work best for you. Don’t expect that it will work perfectly, or that the first thing you try will be the best, most effective approach for you. Consider this an experiment – it’s like going clothes shopping. You’re going to try something on, and see how it fits, whether you like the feel and the look of it, whether it’s comfortable, and whether it meets your needs. It’s a two week experiment.
Activities you might want to experiment with:
The type of journaling that works here, is free writing or “downloading” what’s on your mind, or responding to a prompt that helps you connect with your thoughts, feelings, or a question you’ve been wrestling with.
“How do I want to feel today?” can be a great question to get the juices flowing. Remember your goal here. With this practice, you are using journaling to achieve it. This is not the time to set out to write the perfect memoir or to create to-do lists.
- Meditation, visualization, or deep breathing
A powerful way to get centered and to connect with yourself is to get quiet. Just. Get. Quiet. Allow yourself space and energy to notice what happens when you give yourself time to try this. Quieting your mind has tons of benefits – and remember – even if your mind doesn’t ever get quiet, noticing it’s fullness and busyness, and becoming more aware of how you are feeling inside your body (tired, stress, excited, hungry, etc.) is also beneficial. The benefits of spending even a few minutes in daily meditation or breathing will shift and grow the more consistently you practice.
Note for perfectionists: I love that meditation is referred to as a practice. I find it goes much better if you can remember that all you are doing is practicing. It’s not about getting an A+ (whatever that looks like), it’s about using this tool to improve your life.
- Guided activities
You know how sometimes you just don’t want to have to think about one more thing, generate one more idea, or make one more decision? This is the place where we most benefit from a practice that grounds us and centers us and helps us focus our thoughts and our choices. Sometimes, even sitting and breathing feel too hard. Especially at times like this, I find that it’s extremely useful to have some plug-and-play options available – tools that hold your hand and walk you through the process. This can also be extremely helpful if you are at the very beginning of establishing a ten minute routine, aren’t really sure where to begin, or are plagued by an inner critic and the feeling that you “aren’t doing it right” that keeps you from relaxing.
Tools to make your morning routine easier and more pleasant
A soothing environment and the comforts you appreciate.
My ten minutes in the morning are punctuated by coffee in my favorite mug. Choose a place where you can be comfortable and relatively undisturbed. If you are in a busy spot, consider headphones as a way to insulate yourself and escape.
Lovely things to write with and to write in.
You’ll almost certainly get the most out of your ten minutes if your eyes aren’t attached to a screen. If you are going to be writing, I highly recommend that you turn to paper and pen. Our brains process information differently when we actually write things down. And while the keyboard may be faster, the slower pace of writing by hand can help with that brain untangling you’re doing.
What to do if you hit an impasse and don’t know what to write? Just keep the pen moving. Perfectionist tip: a beautiful blank journal may be just what you need to get motivated – or it may intimidate the heck out of you. If you are the type of person who is afraid of “ruining” a beautiful blank book by making a spelling error, I suggest you consider going with a composition book from the drug store. Keep the stakes low and the pressure off. Remember, you’re not “achieving” here – you’re taking care of yourself.
A timer, ideally one that alerts you gently.
Make this process as easy as you possibly can. Let go of any responsibility to be a timekeeper. Use your phone or some other gadget to set a timer for ten minutes – then you can relax into the process.
A guided solution for ten minute morning routines, meditation, and me-time:
I’ve spent a lot of time testing tools and apps and programs, and in the end, I found lots of things that kind of worked. I also found that many resources weren’t suited to a short period of time. Sixty to ninety minute audio programs feel terrific when I complete them, but they aren’t something I can do consistently.
Best done-for-you tool for a focused, efficient morning routine:
I’m biased, because I created the Success Soundtrack™ when I couldn’t find what I wanted or what my clients were asking for. The Success Soundtrack™ is a plug and play set of 10 – 15 minute audio tracks that allow you to select the focus of your morning routine, based on your goal. Need to destress? You’ll want to listen to Chocolate for the Brain. Want to create clear, focused intentions for your day? Today I WILL, walks you through the process. Avoiding self-sabotage, focusing on the right kind of self-care and making yourself a priority, and showing up as your best version of yourself for the day, are the themes of the other plug-and-play tracks. The audios do the heavy lifting by walking you through 10 -15 minutes of focused activity. You just listen and follow along. You can learn more about it here.
These are the basics – commit the time, plan out a two week experiment, and adjust from there. Don’t be afraid to keep things simple and bare bones. The most straightforward of small consistent changes can yield a massive impact.
Take good care,