How does your work day start off? Picture this. After rushing to work on the highway, you open your door only to see one of your not so favorite co-workers who you now have to chat with all the way across the parking lot about work. The company door opens and as you walk back to your office, someone starts following you with problems to solve. Your stress level is rising. You can’t really focus and were already stressed from the text you received from your boss while you were in the shower this morning about an email. You reach your office and the person follows you in, still talking about their needs. You have to pee badly and just want to put your lunch away before heading off to the first meeting.
Can you relate? This was me for a while at my corporate job. My shoulders were tense before I even got to my desk and my to-list was out the window. Then after much practice, I realized that it didn’t have to be this way. Once I got in the right mindset, established boundaries, tuned in and got organized; I was more calm and productive. Here are a tips that I have used that can help start your work day off on the right foot. You can take control of it!
- Start your morning off early with personal time. I never was one to claim to be a morning person. After having a family, I came to realize that if I didn’t get up before everyone else to meditate, shower, exercise, journal, drink tea or pack my lunch; it just wasn’t going to happen in a calm way. In my Yogic and Ayurveda studies, I have also learned that waking up during Brahmamuhurta before sunrise is incredibly sacred. This is something you will need to explore and experience for yourself. Once you go Brahmamuhurta, it’s hard to go back.
- Put Your Device Down. We are so attached to our phones which means we are also allowing ourselves to be constantly available to whoever feels they need us at that very moment. Who REALLY needs to talk to you before 830am? If there is a real emergency, leave your phone on. Other than that, whoever texts, calls or emails you during your morning time can wait. It’s ok and you will be more respected for setting healthy personal boundaries. You have the choice to respond or not. So, don’t. Your life outside of your job and the outside world is never more important than what is in front of you. Eventually people will get the message that you just aren’t available and they will realize it could have waited. If your boss brings it up, just say that you don’t look at your phone for work purposes until you are in the office. Leave it at that and don’t ever apologize.
- Be present on your commute. Whether you are driving, riding, or biking to work, be present in whatever you do. Just be. If you’re driving, perhaps you listen to something that brings you joy or nothing at all. Have a positive attitude, reduce road rage. Everyone has the same goal of trying to get to work on time and who knows what their morning was like. If you’re commuting, take time to just be, help others, listen or read something positive. Try to stay off your device if possible. You’ll probably be in front of the computer enough the rest of the day.
- Breathe into your work zone. Once you have arrived at your place of work, pause and take 3 deep breathes before entering the building. Take on a positive attitude and set an intention of positivity and productivity. Say any affirmations that may be needed for the day ahead. I am calm and collected. I am an excellent speaker. I am productive and smart. I am valued and successful. I am creative. I will make it through the day. You can say these in your head as you breathe or as you walk in.
- Set your boundaries. If co-workers bombard you on your way in, politely tell them that you would love to help them out with that, but can’t now. At the very least, tell them that you will check in with them once you have gotten settled into the workday so you can be more attentive. This can be anyone, even your boss. Everyone, including you, gets the same level of respect.
- Go in early. If your personal situation allows, go in a little earlier than everyone else to settle into your work day. If you have an early meeting right at 8am, if possible, aim to be there at 7:45 to give yourself settled and mentally prepared.
- Get settled. Get everything that you will need for the day set up. Enough water, snacks, tea, office supplies or a smile from a friend.
- Get organized. Set up your laptop, phone and supplies where they need to be. Clear your desk of anything that you won’t need. Look at your calendar to be prepared for what’s coming up.
- Make your short list. List a maximum of 3 things that you want to accomplish in the day. Sure, you have your long list of things going, but it’s overwhelming to think you’ll accomplish it in one day. The 3 things on your list can be separate from what’s on your calendar or what is already there. It must be realistic. If you have one major thing, then just write one. Block off time on your calendar if you need to for a specific task item. Be sure to follow up with anyone you committed to on your way in.
- Breathe and affirm. Take 3 large deep breathes and recite your affirmation again. Even write it down on your short list if you must.
- Be flexible but not compromising. Even with all this prepping, mind clearing and organization, life happens and our lists can go out the window. Be flexible if this happens and not shameful. You are likely still being productive and useful. If someone asks you to do something that actually can wait and you don’t have to sacrifice your goals, let them know that you can help them, but you are working on something else that needs your attention right now.
You can do these things in 20 minutes or less without anyone noticing. The only thing that people will notice is that you are calm and organized. You will notice that too! The more you do it, the more it will become second nature and your stress will decrease. As always, start small and implement one or two tips at a time and build from there. Then see what happens.
Want more tips on time management to reduce stress? Check out my mini-course Using Time with Intention.