How you start your day should be just like the opening sequence from Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol
This analogy will all make sense in a moment so bear with me and keep reading…
The movie opens up with Ethan Hunt escaping from a grimy Russian prison as he swiftly beats the shit out of the inmates that chase after him.
As Ethan and his IMF cohorts rendezvous in the cavernous area below the prison, the camera pans away from the frenetic action as you hear the subtle buildup of strings beckoning with anticipation of what’s to come…
Then Ethan lights a fuse that starts racing along the wire, twisting and turning in sync to the symphony until the determined flame reaches its destination.
In this case it’s the bomb to blow the prison to smithereens.
You can watch a clip below…
That lonely spark represents a key component of success.
I’m talking about Momentum.
Most people slam the snooze button on the alarm and keep their flame momentarily snuffed out.
Then an hour or so later they launch into the day an hour or more later albeit without a coherent plan for what’s to come next.
It’s understandable as it truly does take an enormous amount of mental energy to force yourself out of bed when your alarm goes off if you’re so used to the routine of smashing the snooze over and over again.
Chemists call this force “activation energy” which in normal terms is the amount of energy required to start a chemical reaction.
But in this case it’s the push for yourself that you must turn on when you’re alarm goes off despite the resistance from your brain and body urging you to do otherwise.
You can use the 5 second rule discussed in detail below to eventually make this process easier and just something you instinctual do.
In other words when the alarm goes off you’re up, no questions asked.
🔥Momentum Booster: Prepare The Night Before
Last night is the time when you must define what the top priorities for your life and business will be for the next day.
If you think you will find the time in the morning to figure this out it will be too late and too much mental energy will be expended trying to decide what you should do.
Just like an architect creating a blueprint for the construct he’s about to build, so should you have a concise blueprint for your day.
Don’t leave the day up to chance or last minute planning. That’s what amateurs do.
As entrepreneur Brian Tracy say’s:
Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance
Here’s the thing: when you plan your day you must be super-specific.
The subconscious mind needs a clear strategy so it can toss around ideas and organize them into a logical plan subconsciously throughout the night to help you perform your best when it comes time to sit down and execute the next day.
It’s also very helpful to know what every hour of your day will look like as it unfolds.
Don’t allow the world to mold your intentions for you. Instead be proactive.
Script it out piece by piece, hour by hour (or 30 minute increments) on paper.
You can use the amazing Plan & Conquer Sheet to plan your day.
If you’re a tech wiz that doesn’t like the old ways transcribe that data into a digital format with Google Calendar or something similar.
The only purpose of a morning routine is to help you be more mentally ready and physically optimized to win the day showing up as a better version of yourself. If you get that you’re golden.
So take some time to set up a morning routine and color in the time-frame for it in your calendar.
Follow that up by creating an evening routine to end your day with the habits that allow your body to reset and be ready for tomorrow.
Color in the time-frame for that also.
Do some light yoga
Drink caffeine-free tea
Jot down your “battle plan’ for the next day
Dive into an inspiring book or listen to classical music if that’s your jam
The kind of information you expose your senses and mind to before you go to sleep will greatly impact your level of motivation and emotional state the next day.
This is known as the “recency effect”
So priming your brain by reading an inspiring book like The Alchemist, watching a Ted Talk, or listening to empowering audio from groups like Fearless Motivation will usually be the first things you think about upon rising.
Let’s backtrack for a sec.
Prior to starting this evening routine there should be a time in your calendar where you totally cut yourself off from any work so you can be with the people that matter and wind your brain down.
Set an alarm on your phone with the label “🛑 Stop Work”.
Then go into your evening routine.
Let’s take this a step further because I want you to be a BOSS tomorrow!
An hour before bed consider doing any of the following.
Sleep in your workout clothes, put your sneakers next to your bed, and roll out your yoga mat
Have shake premixed and ready to slurp down
Lay out your clothes for after the gym
Before moving onto the next part I’m going to ask you a question…
Have you ever heard of “decision fatigue”?
It’s the reason why Mark Zuckerberg wore the same grey hoodie and why Steve Jobs wore the same black turtleneck with jeans.
They understood that the more choices you have to make in the day the faster your supply of willpower dwindles down.
Tweet this out on the interwebz because this is an important concept for people to tattoo to their brain as you focus on a multitude of things throughout the day.
Eventually you become burnt out and can’t make the right rational decisions.
This “burn out” is known as “cognitive overload”
Basically your brain is maxed out.
Find ways you can limit decision fatigue and stop overloading your brain with too many choices.
According to Duke University professor and author Dan Ariely the first two to three hours of your day are when you will be the most productive with an ample supply of willpower and cognitive energy.
Like Steve or Zuck it’s completely alright to have a closet full of black shirts and just a few pairs of jeans or whatever simple style works for you.
One other thing:
Do you always find yourself switching up your tunes when working on something? 🤔
Instead limit decision fatigue when it comes to music choices and create a Spotify playlist with a consistent style of music ordownload music from youtube to mp3 using this and listen to music from a folder on your computer that you call “focus music”.
Soon your brain will become familiar with the tracks and this will help you get and stay in the zone.
Perfect example: right now I’m using a sound from youtube simply called “airplane ambiance” and it immediately helps me focus. In this regard I find that white noise and humming sounds (like a fan) do the trick.
Momentum Booster: Awaken Your Resolve
Carpe diem means seize the day.
Isn’t latin a kickass language?
Take a sec, close your eyes for a moment and imagine it’s 5:00 am.
Suddenly you hear your alarm going off in the other room.
As you rise out of bed to turn it off a slight smirk comes across your face because you know that by taking on the day early you have a leg up over the timid souls who don’t have an intention for their day.
It’s definitely not easy to change your default way of living.
Your brain is a muscle and you have to train yourself to install a new pattern of operating.
But all habits are built over time.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
A simple way to make this wake time consistency stick is to use the alarm app on your phone and set your sleep and wake time for the same time everyday once you find a set time that works for your life and goals.
Or use my favorite new option to get your ass out of bed called The Rock Alarm.
This was created by Dwayne Johnson (yep that one) to motivate you to “get your ass out of bed”
Sadly it’s only available for android users and it’s NOT in the apple app store.
Enable “download from unknown sources” in your phone’s settings to install the APK.
In The Rock Alarm you can choose tons of different curated sounds created by the rock, from gorilla’s grunting with tribal drums in the background, to electric guitar strumming making it feel like you’re a rock god with legions of adoring fans beckoning you to show up and slay the scene.
In the app you can input a goal you’re striving to achieve and the app will show your progress each day as you move closer to the deadline set for the goal.
Be sure to have your phone in another room so you don’t just hit the snooze button and say “screw it” before crashing back in your bed.
The Rock’s voice should coerce you into rising with gusto as fast as humanely possible.
It’s up to you to listen and GET MOVING!
And really : Who better to hold you accountable to take on the day?
Here’s something to pound into your consciousness:
NEVER, EVER check your email or scroll through social media at least 90 minutes after waking.
Doing so overloads your brain with stress chemicals like cortisol and scatters your focus.
As the highest paid peak performance coach in the world Brendon Burchard say’s:
“The inbox is nothing more than a convenient filing system for other people’s agendas” ~Brendon Burchard
So please for your own sake and those you are here to impact don’t get swept up into the minutiae of other people’s wants and needs that aren’t aligned with your goals, commitments and highest aspirations.
Momentum Booster: Develop A Morning Routine
When that alarm chimes…It’s GO TIME!
I developed a simple but incredibly effective morning process designed to prepare you for your day and show up as healthier, energized, and ready for whatever life throws at you.
Remember: How you START your day dictates how you END your day!
🔥Momentum Booster: Slice Up Your Tasks
Let’s go back to planning & preparing the night before.
You hopefully have your most important cognitively demanding task written down in your planner or the plan & conquer sheet along with a few other necessary tasks that will move the needle. And some personal tasks because we all have things like doctor’s appointments lol.
Anyway, I call this key objective your “core focus priority” (CFP)
I’ll stress this again: Clarity is key when you define your cfp.
To reduce the crippling overwhelm of having to chop away at a massive project like an online course or the first chapter of your fantasy novel it is a fantastic idea to slice it all up into smaller more manageable chunks, ie sub-components that serve the main tasks.
Before his masterpiece David was finished, Michelangelo first started with a large slab of stone that was overgrown with weeds and gunk. This was certainly a challenge to transform the disfigured rubble into a finely detailed artistic specimen of human anatomy.
Nevertheless he began chiseling away each day seeing progress along the way until he was able to unveil his masterpiece to the world.
That being said you’re brain absolutely LOVES progress and it’s actually one of the main motivators for human beings knowing we are progressing towards an objective that’s meaningful to us.
Progress also squirts a bit of dopamine into your brain feeding even more of a desire to keep going. Dopamine is the brain’s anticipation and reward chemical. It”s also released when you think about an upcoming trip to an exotic destination or when you’re about to give a speech to a room full of people you admire.
And your brain is majorly motivated to repeat an action if it receives positive feedback from doing that thing.
If what was initially difficult can in fact be conquered, then you let your brain know that it’s doable for the future when you go through the same process again.
That means less resistance and more confidence.
You’ll feel super accomplished when the sun sets knowing you are making HUGE strides towards your goals.
And these smaller tasks that lead to the completion of the main task should also be very specific.
An analogy I like to use is making a ham & cheese sandwich.
You wouldn’t go for the large thick tavern ham devoured during a giant holiday feast because that would be too much to wrap your mouth around when you have all the layers in place.
Nope, you need the ham to be as thin as possible so you could squish the sandwich down while leaving plenty of room for anything else to complete your sandwich creation such as chips or pickles.
On that tasty note I want to point out that events and things will happen in your day that are totally unexpected and out of your control.
Leaving extra wiggle room by knowing exactly what’s required to efficiently slay a task in a reasonable time frame will give you the ability to deal with other things.
This also affords you the opportunity to build a consistent schedule that you can return to every week with extra activities such as learning a new language, enjoying a movie-night with your spouse, attending toastmasters, developing your judo skills,etc.
But narrowing down your tasks is only one piece of the productivity puzzle.
I alluded to this already but it’s worth repeating that you must instill a sense of urgency and have a time frame and deadline to complete each subtask.
That’s where the technique of Pomodoro comes into play.
Invented by Italian economist Francisco Parillo, The Pomodoro technique aka “tomato technique” consists of 25 minutes of a laser-focused attack on a task.
This is followed by 10-15 minutes of recovery or “transition” time which may involve stretching, taking a walk outside to clear your thoughts, or whatever else you need to do to be mentally renewed for the next set of tasks.
When I’m working on a project that has many components my preference is to first go with a process made popular by Cal Newport in his exceptional book Deep Work.
Cal recommends periods of 90 minutesof uninterrupted devout concentration on a single task.
This is “deep work”.
I usually go into “deep work mode” for the first hour after my morning protocol on the core priority of the day.
That ensures you have enough time to complete the task or at least a huge portion of it.
The rest of the tasks in your day can be cleaned up with a smaller time frame.
Newport calls less cognitively demanding tasks “shallow work”.
This isn’t just other less important business tasks, it could also be simple things like cleaning your house, calling a friend, or writing down your grocery list.
I totally get it: Ninety minutes may seem like an awfully long time to be at your computer.
But it actually works with your brain’s timing of how long it can sustain focus before its starts seriously wandering and the demands are cognitively too much to handle.
Lower the time to complete a task based on the requirements of the task itself.
The smaller the time frame the more deliberate you have to be with every second to knock out the task before the timer beeps.
By doing this you are invoking Parkinson’s Law which states that “work expands to fill the time allotted for that work until it’s complete” (That’s a paraphrase)
Experiment with a timeframe that fits both your schedule and mental energy.
Here’s some of the best Pomodoro applications available:
In this app the time counts down as a virtual tree is slowly planted.
As more virtual trees are planted , overtime it will reward you with coins that can fund the planting of REAL trees in regions across Africa.
Forest also functions as a website blocker so you stay focused on the task at hand.
Tragically your little tree will die if blocked sites are accessed during a planting session or if you just use any app on your phone. You can turn that feature off but it gives you an incentive to work smarter with urgency for the time you choose.
Forest is also available as a chrome extension and is cross device compatible so no matter what you’re using you can plant your trees and get to work.
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