It’s that time of day – the start. Arguably the hardest part of the day because this is the pivotal point where you can choose to either stay warm, snuggled underneath the covers, blissfully ignorant of the world around you, or you can fling back the bedding and expose yourself to what the day has in store for you.
Unless you’ve built enough wealth to the point where getting out of bed doesn’t equate to being able to eat and pay rent, you probably make it out of bed one way or another. Sigh.
For some people, starting the day is an easy task – even an enjoyable situation. For others, it takes great mental fortitude.
Maybe there’s a huge deadline looming at the end of the day that will most likely equate to late hours; or maybe you’ve gotten behind on housework and family obligations; or maybe you’ve had an awful week and those emotions are still weighing on you…
Most of us have incredibly busy schedules, to the point where if we stop to think, our days become a mountain of seemingly insurmountable tasks. It’s overwhelming.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
What often happens is that instead of buckling down and getting the job done, we find something else to do to avoid the tasks we don’t want to focus on, even though we know they need to get done. Generally, they’re still tasks that are on your list, but in the back of your mind, the elephant is still in the room.
So, what to do when you’re in this situation?
Are You in Control of Your Schedule or is Your Schedule in Control of You?
Let’s rewind to the start of the day.
After you get up in the morning you generally follow some sort of routine.
For my typical morning routine, the first thing on my mind after I get out of bed is to take a trip the loo (nature calls) and splash some water on my face, then eat breakfast, get dressed (sometimes it’s only glorified PJs), and put some makeup on (if someone other than my husband, Gabriel will see me that day). Then I’d jump right into work.
In the past, as the day wore on, I started to feel more like Hermione Granger’s hair in her younger years. Frazzled. Harried. All over the place. And never feeling like I was getting anywhere with my work.
Gabriel was in the same boat. We decided we didn’t want our lives to feel this way anymore.
This was a turning point in our lives and where I’ll introduce the term, mise en place.
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Mise en place means “everything in its place.”
The basic concept is to prepare everything before even beginning – ingredients, equipment, and workstation.
By doing so, a chef fluidly moves through the recipe and achieves excellent, consistent results.
Mise en place doesn’t only refer to the prep, but the whole cooking process, including clean–up. Everything goes back to its home once it is no longer needed.
It’s an act of mindful concentration and organization.
In the simplest terms, it’s making a plan.
The result? Setting yourself up to successfully execute an action.
The “Meez Mindset” in Practice
Instead of rushing out of bed for a meeting, checking emails, or jumping on that 8 AM conference call, start your day with the “meez mindset.”
Take at least 10 minutes (and yes, that may mean resetting your alarm clock) to calmly identify and organize the most important activities of the day.
Some ways to take advantage of the meez mindset throughout the day are:
Get Ready for the Day (Literally)
Although it can be tempting to dive right into your day, especially if you’ve spent the night tossing and turning and your pets/family/phone are vying for your attention, don’t forget the important step of actually getting ready for the day.
Take a shower and give yourself a little head massage as you shampoo your hair, pick out an outfit you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in if you accidentally had your computer camera on – something about wearing “real” clothes can even make you feel more confident and productive, comb your hair and brush your teeth, and prepare your favorite morning beverage.
Getting ready for the day creates a small buffer between you and the tasks that lay ahead.
Find Your Space
Once you’re physically ready for the day, it’s time to mentally prepare.
It helps to have a specific place to get into the meez mindset – one that you find refreshing.
Perhaps it’s having a good cup of coffee in your favorite chair while sketching out the day, going somewhere with a good view, or simply laying in bed and enjoying a few blissful moments of quiet before jumping into the day.
Whatever special place you find, make sure it allows the mental space to organize your thoughts. For example, Gabriel and I go on morning nature walks to mentally prepare for our workday.
Reset Your Expectations
Even if you feel you need to get twenty things done today, think about what actually needs to get done. What is priority and what can wait?
Sometimes it’s about Finding Reality in Your Expectations.
Pick up to three main items you have to do today and figure out what needs to be done to accomplish them.
Don’t get distracted! Anything else can wait.
And if you do achieve your three tasks early, only then move on to something else.
Block off Your Day in Chunks
Multitasking actually kills productivity. Instead, break your day into chunks.
Are emails overwhelming you?
Pick two to three times a day to check and answer emails – consider “high traffic” times such as the start of the day, after lunch, and right before the end of the day.
If it’s an urgent request, have people contact you a different way.
Don’t get stuck answering emails for more than an hour. Block off 30 min to an hour tops for emails.
You can also create filters so your inbox isn’t crowded with marketing and promotional materials.
Anything that you don’t have to check every day can get filtered out of your main inbox and checked every few days.
Remember, you can always unsubscribe to content that isn’t useful for you!
Some helpful email hacks are scheduling an email to send at a certain time and utilizing meeting schedulers such as Meetingbird.
Also, block off time for the three main tasks you want to accomplish and make sure you give yourself adequate time.
One, two, or three hour chunks allow your brain to focus on the task at hand and not have to switch between topics which can slow productivity.
Project management systems such as Monday.com can help keep you organized for both business and personal projects.
Both Monday.com and Slack are great communication tools to help minimize the amount of internal emails.
And finally, actually schedule time for lunch and breaks.
When you work with people in different time zones this can be hard to maintain.
Be flexible to accommodate people’s schedules, but also know you can say no. You don’t always have to “make it work.”
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9, ESV).
Even with our best laid plans, sometimes things are not meant to go the way we originally planned them to.
Don’t be so hard on yourself if you didn’t accomplish everything you set out to do. There may be a greater plan at work.
The beauty of the meez mindset is that it equips you to be prepared for the day, so that in case things do get crazy, you have the mental fortitude to be able to handle it. It’s an exercise that lets you reset and refocus on the task ahead of you.
By the end of the day, you can reflect and adjust for the next day as needed.
If you find yourself getting increasingly stressed during the day, take a moment to reset and re-prioritize.
Are you willing to try the meez mindset today?