It has been quite a difficult task for me to find an appropriate way to start and end the day. I have been learning about these suggestions to write in the Journal immediately upon waking and before going to sleep. Those two times of the day are considered ideal to begin and end the day well.
Most people decide how their day is going to be within the first thirty minutes. If we can consciously leverage the beginning of the day to think and feel as good as possible when we start, it can definitely change how the day flows.
I have been experimenting with quite a lot of morning and evening routines and concluded (as of now) upon the following set of ideas to implement. See if it works for you too!
Starter: 3-Minutes Daily Prayer
What is my one-liner (daily affirmation) for the day?
I have been wondering to set a positive tone to my day and I found it what better way to start it than to start it with a personal one-liner. It is a quirky daily affirmation that I would want myself to be reminded off throughout the day – especially when I may find myself losing balance. It is like a mantra that brings equanimity despite the fire fights during the day.
It could be as simple as:
- “I am alive today”
- “I am the best of what I can be”
And to more complex and specific:
- “I am best presenter of the day!”
- “I complete the project deadline with flying colours”
Or the classic, proposed by the legendary French doctor, Emile Coue in early 20th century.
- “Everyday, in every way, I am getting better and better!”
When at lost, I use the one that I learnt from Simplified Kundalini Yoga practice from Vethathiri Maharishi:
- “May the almighty force protect us, guide us, lead us, and support us day and night at all times, in all places and in all our duties.”
Using positive autosuggestions can help us tune ourselves for better frequency level.
What are the 3 MITs for the day?/ What would make today amazing?
- Dinner with family
- A Phone call to Appa
- Submission of project reports to the XYZ client
The practice of creating a daily to-do list has become an ingrained habit within me. I suggest you to create your own. Inspired by Zen Habits, I would recommend you to create a list of Most Important Tasks (MITs) to do that day. Kindly be choosy enough to pick only 3 MITs that is critical for you to progress. Agreed that there are other things that will be come along, however ensure that within your area of control, select 3 MITs that you promise yourself to complete.
Alternatively you can ask yourself – “What would make this day amazing?” “What are the things if accomplished would make me feel that this day was amazing?” Taking few seconds to decide upon such things could help create direction for the day. You know what to expect for the day and everything else is a bonus!
Concluder: 3-Minutes Journal
What am I grateful for today?
The habit of practicing gratitude has been deeply rooted in our Indian psyche and the Western Science is validating its benefit. Gratitude could simply defined as the ability to see the best of things, to appreciate life and existence. Dr.Martin Seligman, Father of Positive Psychology calls it as ‘Three Blessings Exercise’. This practice helps us to make an inherent connection with the universal reality by accepting what it throws at us and being appreciative of it in the process. Literally it suggest us to ‘Count our blessings’. I highly recommend you to take few minutes to conclude the day for those things you might be thankful for.
For instance, today I am grateful for…
- the fact that I was able to complete and publish this article
- the wonderful support and comfort I am able to enjoy in my life
- the unexpected wish and connection from a friend whom I lost track off
And many such things. So what are you grateful for today…
What did I got done today?
While the 3 MITs is one side of the coin, the other is reviewing what has been accomplished. In the process of noting and concluding the day with what has been done for the day, we leverage the principle of progress. It gives us yet another reason to document our forward movement and help us look for the day that comes next.
I personally use a web app called ‘iDoneThis’ to record and track my list of activities I got done today. It sends me an automatic email reminder every day, exactly at 6 pm, to record my done list for the day. Besides helping me track what has happened for the day, it also helps me record the reflection of things that happened. You could similarly start a process of noting a ‘I-got-this-done’ list. Famously, Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape, Opsware, Ning has an anti to-do list, literally an index card where he records what he has done for the day. Apparently it has helped him quite a bit.
Why don’t you use this trick to end your day today. It might help you feel accomplished.
How could I make today better?
It is about life lessons. What one learnt during the day from the successes, failures, challenges and difficulties. I personally heard a friend who reflects upon his day and records one lesson that he learnt everyday. That is 365 lessons for the year and more than 3000+ lessons over ten years.
It could be a technical knowledge you gained, a skill you acquired, a piece of information that someone shared or a feeling that you discovered. Try noting it down as part of your daily reflection.
If you are fancy enough, you can check out the Five Minutes Journal and buy yourself a copy. Or if you are like me, create a page for yourself to record your entries.
Better still, I have created a 3-Minutes Journal format that you can download, print and use.
“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
~ Charles Dickens
As the great writer, Charles Dickens says, let us renew the lost art of reflection and make it a habit to appreciate the blessings of our presents not on the miseries of our pasts.