By: Nathan Osmond
“Good morning merry sunshine…how did you wake so soon?” These are the words my sweet mother used each morning when waking her eight sons. She would calmly speak these words while drawing the curtains; letting in the light of a new day. Although we boys hated climbing out of those nice warm beds each morning, the sweet, soothing sound of her tender voice brought peace to the start each day. I especially appreciated her warm, loving bedside manners on those cold, wintery Utah mornings when we knew we had snow to shovel before going to school. She would always have a breakfast ready, matching clothes laid out for each of her sons, and our backpacks packed before we headed off to school. What was even more impressive is the fact that we boys rarely ever saw a hair of her head out of place. She is woman of class and frankly, Wonder Woman, in my eyes.
How you start your mornings is as important as how an Olympian runner starts each race. A strong start to a day leads to a strong finish. You prime your pump of effectiveness by what you do during the first 15 minutes of each day. “Rise and Shine” should be our mantra each morning and for this purpose I have put together these 7 Tips For Starting A Productive Day:
Tip #1 – Keep your cell phone out of reach. If the very first thing you do each morning is reach for your cell phone, then you are just like 58% of all Americans. It’s amazing how eager we are to find out what we missed out on while in dreamland. I’ve always found it interesting that bird owners keep newspapers on the floors of their bird cages. Frankly, I find that to be quite appropriate, as that’s where most of that minutia belongs. The news doesn’t print anything positive or uplifting these days, so why would you place that in your brain first thing each morning? Why start your day off with the doom, gloom and depression of the news when you could start it off with an expression of gratitude? Remember, “As a man thinketh, so is he, or so shall he be.” Start your day off with positive thoughts.
Tip #2 – Greet Each Day With Gratitude. On my most recent podcast episode on Achieving Awesomeness Now, motivational legend, Les Brown, told me that he starts each of his mornings by saying, “Thank you, Father.” He said, “I’m just glad to still be here!” Prayer is a great way to start each morning. Give thanks to your maker by starting each morning by counting the blessing it is to just be alive. Like the Mr. Rogers theme song says, “It’s such a good feeling to know you’re alive. It’s such a happy feeling you’re growing inside and when you wake up ready to say, I’m gonna make it snappy today…It’s such a good feeling, a very good feeling…” With these kinds of thoughts, it can’t help but be, “a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”
Tip #3 – Read ten to fifteen pages of something positive, uplifting and inspiring each morning. Before you turn on the Today Show, before you turn on CNN or Fox News, start by jump-starting your mind with something positive and up-lifting. If others are sleeping and lights need to be kept to a minimum, you can also start your day off by plugging in some headphones and listening to your favorite podcasts. Make sure that the podcasts your subscribe to are not mean-spirited or filled with sarcasm. Make sure they uplift and inspire. Remember, you are programing your personal computer, your mind, on how to think throughout your day. We live within the context of the stories that we tell ourselves. Ask yourself if the stories and information you are listening to or reading are empowering you or discouraging you. Detoxify your life of anything negative. Like Jim Kwik of Kwik Learning teaches, “Kill ANTs,” which stands for “Any Negative Thoughts.”
Tip #4 – Create a soundtrack for your mornings. As a father of four sons, I too try to start their mornings off in a fun and musical manner. I get this from my parent’s examples; especially on Sunday mornings. I always knew it was Sunday morning by the warm, inspiring sounds of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir coming from our kitchen. It put me in the right frame of mind as I got myself ready to go to church. I have put together my own playlist on iTunes titled, “Good Morning Playlist.” It starts off with inspiring morning songs like, “Good Morning” from the Singin’ In The Rain soundtrack. It also includes songs like “Good Morning Beautiful,” by Steve Holy and “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff. Although my sons are just as un-thrilled to climb out of bed as I was as a child, they do start off their days with big smiles on their faces. As a parent, that’s a big deal!
Tip # 5 – Make a list of the top 5 things you must get done that day. What good is a map if there is no direction? What good is a GPS if there is no set destination? Like the George Harrison song sings, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” When writing down what needs to be done for the day, be sure to prioritize each item on your list in the order of most importance. Separate the top five from any other items you would like to get done that day. When learning from one of my favorite Latter-day Saint apostles, L. Tom Perry, he told me that he purposefully lists more items on his to-do list than he can possibly get done each day. That way, at the end of the day, when he looks over his daily list, if he’s accomplished 75% of those checklist items, then he knows he’s had a very productive day. Don’t beat yourself up over an unfinished list, but make sure that you do all in your power to get the top five items accomplished. Les Brown told me that this one exercise has helped to make several companies millions of dollars. Get those top five action items done each day. Anything after that is extra gravy.
Tip # 6 – Do one random act of kindness each day. Time is our most valuable commodity. Once you give it away, you can never get it back. When you give of your time, you truly give of yourself. Often times we don’t stop to help others because we are so busy being busy. Not only do we pass up awesome opportunities to serve, but we rob ourselves of the physical and spiritual blessings that come when serving someone who can do nothing for us. Like the great basketball coach, John Wooden once said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are…the true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” Nothing will bring more joy to your day than the sheer joy you receive while blessing another’s life; especially when that person can do nothing for you in return. Like one of my favorite book states, “Charity never faileth.”
Tip # 7 – Remember who you are and who you ultimately want to become. Even though I never try to push my religion on others, I am a very religious person. My faith has been the source of my greatest happiness here on this earth. Learn more at www.ChurchOfJesusChrist.org. I believe that we are all children of the most high God and that He has sent us here to this earth to be tried and tested. They say that life is the hardest teacher because she gives us the test first and the lesson afterwards. As you start each day, take time to meditate on these things. Think of a loving Heavenly Father, your creator, who is blessing your path and opening new doors of opportunities to you. Consider the lilies of the field; how they grow. He knows when the smallest sparrow falls and he knows when his children are in need of help. If you know how to give good gifts to your own children, how even more does your Father, which is in Heaven, know how to give good gifts to His children. “As it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered into the minds of man, the things which God hath prepared for those who love Him.” Give credit to the man upstairs, the source from which all blessings flow. Doing this exercise has helped to bring so much hope into my life. Remember, when there is hope in the future, there is power in the present. Just know that you are a work in progress and the mere fact that you woke-up today means that the most important parts of your life have yet to be lived. The very reasons for which you were sent to this earth has yet to be fulfilled. There are still projects to be produced, more inventions to be created, more laughter to be enjoyed, more children to inspire, and more lives to bless. Once you’ve accomplished the things you were called to do here on this earth, your father will call you home and you will “graduate” from this earthly existence. One day there will be a funeral where others will remember the one we called “You”. What do you want written about you in your obituary? What do you want spoken in your eulogy? Start writing your own eulogy today. Describe your very best self and the things you want spoken of you at your “graduation ceremony.” Read your eulogy to yourself often and don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t yet accomplished all of those items. Let that be your driving force each morning as you start each day. I recently took my father out to lunch at a little Chinese buffet. While eating and conversing, I asked him, “Father, if you could go back in time and visit with your younger self and could give your younger self one bit of advice, what would it be?” He took a minute and said, “I would say this to myself…It’s not who you are…but who you ultimately become that truly matters.” Take that thought, let is simmer in your heart, apply these 7 tips, and go make today a masterpiece.
All the best,