The Big Idea
How do you start and end your day? Do you have any kind of routine to this? One of the things you should know about us by now is that we are about bringing things together and when we say ‘things’ we mean the #Tips so that we can habit stack. Well this is the habit stack of your day – as our Dulcie says your daily day plan.
There is a military term that we think applies here: “fail to plan, then plan to fail”. This sounds a bit drastic, but how much time in our day do we take for granted, even ‘waste’? How much do you feel at the whim of the life and pressures of others? How can you make sure that you can start and end a day with a sense of your own purpose as well as creating and maintaining the energy that you need to make life work for you? Well as Darren Hardy, editor and chief of Success Magazine, attests a key life #Tip is being more deliberate (mindful) of how you structure your day – especially at the start and end of the day. He argues that a person’s morning and evening routines are the “bookends” of a successful life.
It can be all too easy these days to get into the routine and habit of just expecting to stop and switch off at the end of the day – especially with remote and virtual access to work 24/7. This is not how our bodies have evolved. We are meant to have time that allows us to decompress before entering into our sleep part of our days. Not providing clear signals (zeitgebers from #Tip24) is also setting us up to not be our best.
Some great news here is that there is no right or wrong here and it will depend on your own preferences and type of body clock that you have. For instance some people prefer to rise early (morning larks) whilst others tend to be better latter in the day and so rise latter (night owls) – and some are in between. There are still some common things that we can all do to bookend our days, but exactly how, what and when is really up to your creativity. Ultimately this is how you best work with and help set and maintain your day rhythm (circadian rhythm #Tip24) and is a high performer and wellbeing #Tip that we can all make progress on.
Got it…What’s the Science
The key to the science really is in how we change our perceptions of the day (a bit like #Tip23 Time to Reframe), the value of what we have done and what we can do, that helps determine what is likely in terms of performance (i.e. our reality). We believe it is also to do with being better able to compartmentalise or stop other parts of the day, or previous days, interfering with our ability to be present – a phenomenon known as retroactive interference. There is also something of the ability to come up with better routines that are made up of better habits which is in essence what The52Project is all about.
Starting with the perceptions then – well when we get on to a good start in the day we can feel happier and less threatened. So getting in a sense of satisfaction at the start of the day can give you a dopamine boost which not only makes us feel better it makes our outlook on the day more positive. How good can it feel if you can square away a task or two before you get going in earnest for the day? Clearing that email, text or laundry pile that you have been meaning to get to. Now imagine if you can do this just without thinking about it too much, almost on autopilot. This requires far less mental effort and yet we can still get the dopamine boost from the activity. This is a bit of a balance though as not being mindful of the activities you are doing means that the perception of achievement is probably less. This reminded us for a fantastic graduation speech made by Admiral McRaven about SEAL training and the importance of making your bed in the morning (see links).
Having a clear start(ing) and end(ing) to the day also helps with setting our bodies’ circadian rhythms, which we have spoken about in #Tip24 Sleeping in Sync. This includes the need for slowing down and decompressing from the day as a habit by the way. This can include reflecting on the day and what you have achieved. A study looking at productivity found that just 10 – 15 minutes spent on reviewing what was achieved in a working day had over 20% increase in productivity in subsequent days compared to colleagues who did not have this time. This is a form of what have I learned but it is also part of putting down from it is in your head onto paper, to capture the highlights as well as the challenges, to help keep these in perspective, give ‘substance’ or ‘labels’ to the feelings which in turn meant that connections are made so that learning can better occur. It also means that it can be easier to round off and leave this behind, to close the door or shut the book on them so that you can mentally be freer to move on. Your brain does this around context every time it walks through doors by the way (have you ever been going into a room for something, but when you get there you have forgotten what it was?).
Remember too that our brain can only hold so many things in mind at any one time (usually only one complex issue) and has a limited amount of energy for the day. This in turn helps us to be present and to be able to pay attention to the things that we are doing, whilst also being clearer of what we are needing to do for the next day.
Another amazing thing happens when we do this summing up kind of exercise towards the end of our day, we place mental markers or flags in our minds narrative of the day that our brains will pick up as we sleep. The process of sleep includes consolidating memories that are significant. By recalling and processing them during the day, we help our brain to remember them (and in context). This process is associated with brain firing called ‘sleep spindles’ usually in the early stages of non-REM (non-dreaming) sleep. Now you don’t need to write stuff down to get some of these benefits – simply talking about the end of the day with a close friend or partner should give some these benefits too – although this likely to be less deliberate and focused on bookending your day. Darren Hardy talks about ‘the compound effect’ that this can have in our life if repeated daily, in his book with the same title. This is the combined result of routines, brain wiring and manifesting and noticing positive change in your world.
Lastly, aside from needing clear signals to the brain and body as whole that it is coming towards the end of the day, the ability to reflect on a day at least survived, perhaps coming back to a bed that you made, helps us close the day and better frame tomorrow as a new day.
Watch our #Tip35 on the Instagram Live Recording….
With special guest Jen Smith (@DigitalJen)
Daily Bookends: Effective Rituals to Make the Most of Every Day – article by Patrick Buggy
Business Benefits Of Bookending Your Day – article by Carol Standing
The Compound Effect – book by Darren Hardy
In our opinion ‘bookending’ is one of the best ways to structure your day. This is partly because first thing and last thing in the day are times that you generally have most control and flexibility on.
Remember bookending they is going to be really personal to you. Perhaps revisit the #Tips that have helped you so far and think how you can use them to set you up for especially the start and mark the end of your day.
One thing to keep in mind here is that, once you have a morning and evening routine, consistency is key: consistency in activity, time of day and it’s execution – this makes it a habit and habit stack that is likely to stand the test of time and give you more better days.
Also you don’t have to spend too long on it bookending and perhaps another way of framing the end of the day bookend is just a review of the day. You may be into journaling but it could be a simple as reflecting on the day that was as you get ready for bed.
So this is yet another #Tip to stack with other #Tips to help set and maintain your daily rhythm and get the most out of your day. What #Tips, that could become habits or routines, do you think will be useful in you getting the most out of this #Tip? Do let us know – we’d love to hear from you.
Watch this space…
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