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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work-Life Balance

How 15 Minutes a Day Can Change Your Life

A few weeks ago, I was feeling overwhelmed, disengaged, and exhausted. Every half-hour block of every day was accounted for, but I didn’t feel like I was really getting anywhere. Instead, I found myself leaping out of bed at the first annoying ding of the alarm to speed-shower, dress, and get myself out the door so I could plow through another day—and hopefully get closer to finding some quiet and calm.

I confided in a few of my Mentor Masterclass coaches, who all suggested the same thing: Create a morning ritual, and give yourself a few minutes in the morning to collect your thoughts, breathe, and prioritize your day. Each time I heard the suggestion, I loved it in theory. But since I felt like I barely had enough time to wash the shampoo out of my hair, I didn’t know how I was going to make early morning sun salutations happen.

So, I didn’t do anything—until I got so desperate that I decided it was worth a shot. One morning I set my alarm for 10 minutes earlier than I usually do. Then, instead of sprinting out of bed when it went off, I grabbed my notebook from my side table and wrote whatever came into my fuzzy morning brain. I took 10 long, deep breaths. I wrote down my three big priorities for the day. Then I got out of bed.

I’ve been doing it every day since, and it’s changed everything. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, having trouble focusing, or just looking for a few moments of quiet time, a morning ritual is a great place to start. Here’s what you need to know to create one.

You Don’t Need a Lot of Time

In fact, I wouldn’t suggest carving out more than 15 minutes for your morning ritual—at least in the beginning—so that you don’t overwhelm yourself with yet another thing to do. But, I suggest you set your alarm for earlier than usual, instead of trying to cram those 15 minutes into your already-packed morning schedule. It’ll give you a better chance of actually doing it.

Do it First Thing

The point of a morning ritual is to anchor in some peace and calm before the chaos sets in. If you let the chaos get to you first (by, say, reading your emails), you’ll dilute the experience. When you prioritize your sanity, you’ll realize that everything else can, in fact, wait a few minutes.

Keep it Simple

If you’re not sure what to actually do as your morning ritual, hone in on something that will help you get grounded—and don’t overthink it. For example, take a few deep breaths, make your favorite green smoothie or oatmeal, write down your #1 goal, or read your favorite blog. It doesn’t have to be complicated—it just has to work.

Don’t Do More Than 1–2 Things

You want to give yourself enough space to enjoy and be fully present in each activity. After a few weeks, if you find that you have an extra few minutes and want to add in another element, go for it.

Since starting my morning ritual, my days are more productive. I don’t start the day feeling like I have a big ball of who-knows-what to get through—I know exactly what needs to be done and in what order. I’ve been taking better care of myself, because those extra 10 minutes help me figure out how I’m actually feeling and how I can adjust accordingly. Am I cranky? I’ll bring a good book on the train. Am I dehydrated? I’ll remember to drink more water throughout the day. Most importantly, taking control of my morning—honest to goodness—helped me feel like I was taking back control of my life, which helped me enjoy it more.

And, well, that’s the whole point.

Need a little personalized guidance on creating a morning ritual? Check out my (super awesome) coach, Casey Erin Wood, and her upcoming teleclass on how to do just that!

Photo of coffees courtesy of Shutterstock.