Mastering Your Day

As the owner of IK9LC I can tell you that I bounce between immense fulfillment and overwhelming stress every day. Are my employees happy? Is there enough money coming in? How do I grow the business without jeopardizing my ideals and values? How long do I give IK9LC to make money before I close the doors? 5 years? 10 years? Forever?

I'd like to share some things I've tweaked in the last few months in hopes that it will help some of you that are feeling overwhelmed with all you face every day.

If you're like I used to be...struggling to get everything done in a day, unable to prioritize projects, and generally pretty stressed out...try this for two weeks. Mastering the first and last hour of your day can be a game changer. No excuses, no deviations. Two weeks. It changed my entire day from stressful, disorganized and exhausting to productive, organized and fulfilling. Now it's common for me and my blood pressure went down and I'm sleeping better than I ever have. Literally...my blood pressure went from elevated to normal in a short period of time by taking control of the top and bottom of my day.

The first hour sets the tone for your entire day. So how do you make that first hour the best that it can be? By preparing the night before. The last hour of the day isn't for watching TV to decompress from the day. That's escapism, and while we all need it, that's not preparing for the next day.

So, here we go. The night before:

1. No computer, TV or phone for the last hour. None. This one is hard but it's very important. This is YOU time. Read two chapters every night in a book that you bought but never got around to reading. Better yet, instead of getting lost in a syrupy romance novel or fiction mystery how about trying something to make you a better version of you? Why not a Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, Simon Sinek, or Brene Brown infusion? It's real, it's deep, and I guarantee you will take something away from it that will make your life better. The goal is to have the last hour of your day designed for you to get a good night's sleep and to make the next morning easy. A romance novel, the nightly news, depressing headlines on MSN.com or online drama isn't the way to get there.

2. Lay out your clothes for the next day, and put your phone, car keys, purse, grocery list, and things you have to take with you in the morning in the SAME SPOT every day. If you have to drop off dry cleaning that's where it will be laying in the morning. That spot is sacred, it's yours, it's for your stuff and no one else's. Mornings are stressful enough trying to get kids on the bus and not forget your stuff, why add to it by not having things put in one spot?

3. If you're a coffee drinker set your coffee maker to brew ten minutes before you get up. As a coffee drinker myself I can tell you that the smell of coffee is the quickest way to get me out of bed and it lightens my mood immediately.

4. Make a list of what you have to accomplish the next day in the order of importance, and put the MOST IMPORTANT and MOST DISTASTEFUL thing first. It's usually the same thing because it's been put off so long (distasteful) that's it's over due (and now most important). Start out with two things you HAVE to get done. Don't make your entire list imperative to get done, it's overwhelming and chances are all but a couple of things aren't that imperative to get done. Two is enough to start with and once those are done you can check off the rest as you get them done.

In the morning you start your day off right by doing one thing. Don't allow anyone to have control over the first hour of your day AND you keep things in perspective. What does that mean and how do you do it? It's simple.

Someone cuts you off in traffic...you understand that they may be late for work and afraid to get fired...you wave at them to say "it's OK, I understand, I've been there" and you get to work one car length later.

You hit the drive thru and get the wrong order. Instead of getting bent out of shape you remember how awesome it is that we live in a country that you can actually get an entire meal in a few minutes without getting out of your car, and you eat what was given to you and are grateful for the meal.

Your first phone call at work is a livid customer that's dropping the "f" bomb and blaming all their woes on you. You take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and remember that it's not personal. The customer isn't mad at you. They didn't do the hour's preparation the night before to make sure that this morning was considerably less stressful for them. You have empathy that they're just an unhappy, miserable person and today you're getting the brunt of their anger.

While you're starting to get angry at someone cutting you off I guarantee someone within a mile of you has real problems. Their child was just diagnosed with cancer. Their spouse was severely injured in a car accident. Someone just lost their job. These people are so distracted by real world problems that they cut you off in traffic or call a business about something small but their stress makes it a really big deal to them. And you handle it like the kind, empathetic human being you can be.

And guess what? Some day when you're undergoing intense stress you'll cut someone off and that person will wave at you saying "it's OK, I've been there, I've got you" and you'll know that Karma is real.

So be your best self, and you can start in little ways. Set your coffee maker the night before. Put all your stuff in one spot so your mornings are less stressed. Turn off the TV and open a book instead. Above all, be kind to those around you while you're being kind to yourself.

amanda hillegas