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One night during my stay in Upington last week, there was a bit of thunder and lightning with some rain – nothing of which could have happened if the conditions were not right.

If the conditions in nature are right, things happen.

The same is true for us.  To be productive, our “conditions” have to be right.

It can be simple things like getting enough sleep, exercising and eating well.  Or having a routine you follow in the morning (for planning) or afternoon (for review and learning).  Or saying “no” more often.

Here are some of the things successful people routinely do first thing in the morning.

And here’s a summary:

  • Tony Robbins practices gratitude and visualization.
  • Tim Cook does his email at 4:30 a.m.
  • David Karp checks his email when he arrives at the office.
  • Mark Twain recommended doing the hardest task first.
  • Howard Schultz believes in getting priorities established.
  • Geraldine Laybourne believes in helping the next generation.
  • Laura Vanderkam recommends writing a challenging report or email.
  • John Grisham believes in a strict routine.
  • Todd Smith always greets colleagues appropriately.
  • Benjamin Franklin always wanted to be helpful in the morning.
  • Steve Murphy devotes morning time to planning.
  • Tim Armstrong recommends learning and listening.

Everyone does something different but everyone knows and creates the conditions that get their day off to a great start.

How about you?  Do you know the conditions that make you productive?

Take some time every day this week to write down the things that are “in place” when you are in top gear productivity mode.  Or what is missing when you slump into low productivity.  Then use these insights to create your own conditions for high productivity.

Have fun!

Productivity quote: ”The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.”  – Mike Murdock

Productivity Survey – make your mark!  I am doing a productivity survey to identify “productivity handbrakes” – the things that hold people back from enjoying happier and more productive lives. Please join in!  Your feedback will assist us to create up to date material based on real needs so we can design our services and products to exactly meet your needs.  Click here to give your opinion.  Thanks

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As I was watching the 100m heat in which Usain Bolt ran at the Olympics on Saturday, the commentator made a remark that prompted this note to you.

He said that Bolt was going through the last steps of his routine before the race.

The trigger word for me was “routine”.

During my  Productivity Mastery Programme, of which the last one for the year starts on 21 August, participants develop a “start-up routine” or “morning routine” at the office and a “shut down” or “afternoon routine”.

I also had a look at the routines of Michael Phelps who, as you may have seen, has now won 18 gold medals during his Olympic career and has been hailed as the greatest Olympian ever.

I was curious to learn more about his routines and saw the heading “How good habits can win gold medals“.   Here are some passages from the book The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, published by Doubleday Canada.

  • Bowman (Michael’s coach)  believed that for swimmers, the key to victory was creating the right routines.
  • What Bowman could give Phelps, however – what would set him apart from other competitors – were habits that would make him the strongest mental swimmer in the pool.
  • All he needed to do was target a few specific habits that had nothing to do with swimming and everything to do with creating the right mindset. (GC: These were visualization and relaxation.)
  • At the core of why those habits were so effective, why they acted as keystone habits, was something known within academic literature as a “small win”.
  • A huge body of research has shown that small wins have enormous power, an influence disproportionate to the accomplishments of the victories themselves. “Small wins are a steady application of a small advantage,” one Cornell University professor wrote in 1984. “Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favour another small win.” Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach. Eventually we figured out it was best to concentrate on these tiny moments of success and build them into mental triggers. We worked them into a routine.
  • There’s a series of things we do before every race that are designed to give Michael a sense of building victory.
  • If you were to ask Michael what’s going on in his head before competition, he would say he’s not really thinking about anything. He’s just following the program. But that’s not right. It’s more like his habits have taken over. When the race arrives, he’s more than halfway through his plan and he’s been victorious at every step. All the stretches went like he planned. The warm-up laps were just like he visualized. His headphones are playing exactly what he expected. The actual race is just another step in a pattern that started earlier that day and has been nothing but victories. Winning is a natural extension.

If gold medals at the Olympics can be won by working on routines and establishing habits, is it not fair to say that we can win a “gold medal” every day at the office by establishing and following a few simple routines that will give us daily “small wins” and increase our productivity?

Everyone’s routine will be different.

Here are some thoughts for a daily “morning routine” (from various sources):

  • Read something inspirational.
  • Watch something that I enjoy at www.ted.com .
  • Review personal and business values.
  • Review top goals you are working towards.
  • Choose the three most important things to do today.
  • Preview the day’s calendar and make sure I am ready for meetings and other activities.
  • Review action lists and sense priorities for the day.
  • Internalise relevant affirmations (positive self talk).
  • Jot down three things I am grateful for.
  • Write a positive message to someone in my social support network.
  • Take two minutes to describe in a journal the most meaningful experience of the past 24 hours.
  • Do a “mind dump”.

Charles C. Noble said: “First we make our habits, then our habits make us.”

To which someone added: “…or break us.”

Let me know what your morning routine at the office is and I will collect and share a few next time around.

And…have fun!

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