Oh no, today’s here! Get up, shower, get ready, leave! No time for breakfast, straight to the meeting. Not quite prepared. I wish I would have had my coffee. Oh great, it’s 10:00, let’s get coffee.
And on it goes. To lunch. Oh I was hungry, but shouldn’t have eaten that. Oh no, I forgot that call I was supposed to make because I was busy.
Our days come at us pretty fast, wouldn’t you say? How do you handle all the “stuff” you need to get done? Let me share with you some tips today so you can get some sleep and be ready to take on the next day, cool?
Do you stay up at night because your mind is racing? It happens to me all the time! You don’t want to forget any of the important things for the next day, or you are rehearsing some conversations you may have. or perhaps you are nervous about a potential conflict?
And what about finances, health, and all sorts of other topics that keep you up at night?
I talk often about morning success habits and ways to really supercharge your days. But it can be nearly impossible to have a super productive morning if you don’t get the right sleep the night before. Then you get caught in an endless cycle, right?If you take the time each night to ensure you are prepared for the next day, you dramatically increase your chances of success.
Okay, let’s talk about how to increase productivity tomorrow. TONIGHT.
“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” – Winston Churchill
1) Make a list
One of the challenges of not being able to sleep is having way too much info trapped in your brain. No matter how hard you try, the thoughts keep coming at you fast and furiously, right? The easiest way to fix the over thinking is to get it out of your head and onto paper.
I have tried all sorts of apps, but the best app I have found is good ol’ paper and pen. Anything that pops in my head, I just write down, so I reduce the amount of brain power I have to use for “not forgetting things.” Whatever works for you, just get the stuff out of your head.
As En Vogue used to say, “Free your mind, and the rest will follow.”
2) Have a notebook/journal beside your bed
This could be the same list from step 1, but this has been a HUGE help for me over the years. I constantly was tossing and turning, trying to build my mental checklist of all the stuff I didn’t want to forget the next day. Sure, I had things scheduled, but I was doing things like counting all the extra things I didn’t want to forget. I would tell myself, “You have four things to remember tomorrow.”
Now, with a journal or paper beside the bed, if something comes to mind while I am trying to sleep, I just quickly jot it down. One of the best habits ever. Even if I wake up in the middle of the night and think of something, I write it down while I am half asleep and get back to my sweet dreams.
3) Plan to get some sleep
This may seem like a simple concept, but it is important. We all know how important sleep is, but why do we pay such little attention to it? Watch this TED Talk with Arianna Huffington who talks about the need for sleep. I recently saw her speak and met her and she is awesome. She also wrote this post called Sleep Your Way to the Top which continues the discussion on sleep.
The lesson I learned was that we must plan ALL of our success activities to make them stick. Remember that “knowing” and “doing” are not the same thing. In order to make sleep a priority, you should plan for it. If you want to build a morning routine, then part of that routine should include getting the necessary sleep.
Those that are really into fitness understand this concept very well. To be successful, you need to exercise, have solid nutrition, and get the necessary rest. You must plan for all three. As part of YOUR success plan, don’t forget to add sleep to your to-do list.
As Arianna Huffington says,
Sleep, or how little of it we need, has become a symbol of our prowess. We make a fetish of not getting enough sleep, and we boast about how little sleep we get. I once had dinner with a man who bragged to me that he’d gotten only four hours of sleep the night before. (I resisted the temptation to tell him that the dinner would have been a lot more interesting if he had gotten five.)
And put the smartphone away. Way ahead of bedtime.
You gotta be reading! It has to be part of your daily activities and if you build one habit into your life, it must be reading. I wrote a post on the benefits of reading and the kind of reading you should do for success, so take a look at that as well.
I, like a lot of you, like to watch TV before bed. It is a habit I am trying to break, because often I fall asleep with it on and it never lets me sleep soundly. Also, I end up watching crap “just because” and end up awake way too long. When I’m tired in the morning, I don’t even have a good reason!
If you like watching TV, that’s great, but try and shut it off at least 30 minutes before you plan on shutting the lights out and grab a book instead. I suggest a biography of some kind as it is not as stimulating to your neocortex and logical, thinking brain.
Stories of others actually are processed by your limbic system, and even better, may activate your mirror neurons. You start to identify with the characters and imagine yourself in the story. Also your brain physically reacts to powerful stories. So if you read biographies of successful people or stories of people you admire, you actually begin to assume the characteristics of the people in the story. There are countless studies on this.
And when you are tired, you are even more susceptible to being influenced, so that rocks! When you fall asleep, that process continues. Over time, this habit will get you sleeping faster and actually create a whole cocktail of success triggers in your brain. Try it.
5) Go through a mental checklist/rehearsal
I talk often about the need to set intentions as part of your morning plan. Take it a step further and treat your night before like a mental rehearsal of the day to come. Like a bobsled athlete would do!
Imagine yourself the next day navigating all the twists and turns. Fix in your mind the kind of day you want to have. The kind of person you want to be. The reactions you would like to create.
When you mentally rehearse your next day, you lock in the emotions and feelings way before you need them and when the time comes, you will be ready to take action. If you aren’t doing this, try it tonight and for the next 7 days. You will be amazed.
6) Get your physical space ready
Because I have a morning routine, I know what I will be doing pretty much every morning when I get up. I have my spot in my living room for journaling and reading, and I have my desk for doing my writing each day.
To make the most of my morning, I ensure that those two spaces are ready for me. I don’t want to have to do any other activities to prepare the space for me to be successful. Part of your morning ritual will be dependant on setting the stage the night before.
7) Get your stuff ready
Just like the space, get your stuff ready too. Often, we use my laptop for watching Netflix (we plug it in via HDMI to the TV) and it drives me crazy if I forget to set it back up on my desk in the morning. That extra 3-5 minutes actually throws me off in the morning.
Or worse, if I can’t find my journal because we were cleaning and it was put on a shelf somewhere. Same goes with the books I want to read.
The night before, I make sure all of those things are in order.
Also, we try and maintain the habit of making a green smoothie each day. To make that work, the blender has to be ready and all the necessary ingredients have to be in order.
Lastly, and this one is silly. My girlfriend bought me a sweet coffee cup with a crown on it. I love these coffee cups shaped like bowls and she found one that was perfect for me! I make sure it is clean the night before because it is now my guilty pleasure each morning to drink my coffee out of it.
Does that all make sense? Plan to be successful tomorrow, today.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
― Abraham Lincoln
8) Stay up and get it done
This is the extreme option. But an option that sometimes I need to employ if I just can’t seem to get to sleep. I have had those nights where I can’t shut my brain off, so I just get up and get a bunch of work done. 1am, 4 am, it doesn’t matter. I get it done and then I go back to bed. Perhaps sleep in a bit.
It does you no good to toss and turn and put yourself in an even more unproductive state the next day.
So get it done. If that keeps happening more often, you may need to do a complete evaluation on your schedule and routines to get things in order.
Sometimes all the planning in the world doesn’t help…
“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
― Mike Tyson
I would say it happens to me about twice per month. And now that I have embraced that option, I actually sleep better because I give myself the CHOICE. Read my post on how leaders deal with challenges and see that in order to rock out your days, you should do less responding and reacting, and more initiating. Make it your habit to be as proactive as possible for your success and productivity.