This week I interviewed three super-productive people. Each one leads teams that report to them from five plus countries in different time zones. I asked each one about how they start their day. I enquired about their mind habits on waking. The emerging theme was striking. A big part of their morning ritual is what they do not do.
How do these super-productive people begin their days?
They do not reach for their mobile phone and check emails. They do not start with ramping up their anxiety by cramming their minds with their impossibly packed schedules. They do not move straight into parenting-mode the instant they open their eyes.
Instead they use their precious birth-of-a-new-day to remember to harness their best companion, their breath, to visualise the potential life-affirming moments possible within up-coming events, and to set their intention for the day. Each of these are habits of mind. These are internal habits that prepare them for the outer ones in their day.
Once out of bed, the next step for all three of these people was different forms of outer activity, of doing. Green tea or hot lemon drinks, a mini workout or short stretches before heading into parenting responses, showering and breakfast.
Habits include the small habits of mind we make every day. I asked each of these three people if they had always started their days like this. No. All had deliberately built these mini habit-stacks and each had noticed that these new habits served them better than their previous one – heading straight to their phones.
Inner mind habits to start your days
I’d like to interview Anna Wintour about her inner habits. In the film, “September Issue” she describes her best asset as “decisiveness” so I suspect hearing about her inner habits would be instructive. Since my chances of such an interview are slim, it’s worth noting the morning habits that she does share. She rises daily at 05:45am, plays tennis for one hour, then it’s a quick primping process at home before the editor-in-chief of Vogue USA goes to her office at One World Trade Center to conduct an endless set of meetings. Her “long meetings” are anything that runs over seven minutes.
What are the inner mind habits you wake up to each morning?
How do you wake up each morning? Compulsively reaching for your phone to read messages? A mind teeming with millions of half-formed thoughts? Or a mind pausing to deliberately create spaciousness by getting interested in and watching your breath?
Start noticing the habits of mind that start your day and see if they serve you well. If not, start one new tiny inner way of starting your day before you switch into doing. As you repeat this over the next month, start noticing how you enter and welcome each day.