Well Begun Is Half Done!
(Article reading time for an average adult = 5-6 minutes)
In my home country (Greece) and maybe in other countries, too, we say “Well begun is half done” or “The Beginning is the half of everything.” The first quote actually comes from Aristotle. Well one might consider that this is a very nice phrase but unreasonable, the problem is how many hours I am using to achieve an outcome independently of the row of the activities in that period of time. Truth is that this used to be my own belief, too, until I started reading about productivity tips and understood that this mistaken belief was playing a significant role in me achieving the goals of the day. For example, I used to begin my day by reading the emails and the notifications in the social platforms.
Many life coaches and business mentors have talked about the importance of starting with a thoughtful and productive way that sets you up for success in your goals for the rest of the day. And in fact there exist specific tips that, if followed consistently, can quickly transform your levels of productivity. You may be skeptical about how helpful might be these habits that sometimes even look silly or too easy. However, that kind of formulas have helped many succesful people achieve what they have achieved. If you keep an open mind, practice these behaviors for approximately a month, you will see by yourselves how your world will transform in positive ways you cannot imagine!
- Wake up 2 hours before you need to leave home and give one hour, at least, to yourself and to your mind. If you exercise regularly, exercise. If you have a pet, go for a walk. If you usually meditate, practice meditation for 30-45. In fact, morning meditation is extremely useful. You intentionally put yourselves in a mindful state and you start with one of the safest armors to seize the day!
- Before reading anything from the news online or in the newspaper, leave half an hour to read, listen or watch something motivational. You will put in your brains healthy “food”. You will prompt your emotions and feel the motivation to give your best selves. It can even wake you up, if your thoughts are still going around the bed. These days, every single morning, I am listening in an audio book the autobiography of Richard Branson “Losing My Virginity: The Autobiography” Branson narrates it himself and his mentality on confronting life (and not only business) is incredibly motivating. Actually it creates contradictory feelings to me. From the one hand I feel how human success is, contrary to popular belief. Branson was a dislectic guy that reached the level he is now step by step, without any fortune and without ever doing something superhuman. Only with a tremendous desire to succeed and a risk taking attitude and two parents that blindly trusted him in all of his choices…On the other hand sometimes I tend to feel sad because I see how huge our potential is and most of the times we throw it to the rubbish. This sets me up for the whole day!
- Sit down and write or have already written your 5-10 goals. But be specific. Instead of writing I want to lose weight, write by the end of the next month I will have lost 7 kilos. Then write down what are you willing to give in return for what you desire. Achievements don’t come without efforts, so state what you are going to sacrifice. Then mention your specific plan on how to reach your goals. And read them loudly. At that time meditate on your writings, feel deep inside that you already are in that position. You can even use present tense, like I weight these kilos. Believe it or not, your brain needs consistency with the outside world, the more you tell it something, the closer it comes to believe it. To make it even more effective, Brian Tracy recommends to write and rewrite them again day by day when we wake up.
- Either have a list ready or make it in the morning, with what you want to do during this day. By having them written down they are clear to you and whenever you may get stuck, you can have a look at them and decide what to do later. Put them, also, in priorities. Ask yourselves, if there was a reason that you must do only one thing for the whole week, which one would it be.
- If you leave home, either you take a public transport or drive prefer to listen to an audio book instead of radio. The average person spends much time for transport. By introducing this habit you both use efficiently the time that otherwise would be wasted and you focus your brain on what matters to you.
- When you start working, start with your first priority and don’t waste time in microactivities such as emails. In the beginning you are fresh to accomplish what is the most important activity for the day. Moreover, when you finish early an important task, you have feelings of high satisfaction. Your brain becomes full of endorphins and you are very motivated to continue to the rest. Also, when you finish your important tasks early, you have better chances to reach the state of flow. Flow is the ultimate experience, the time that you have full productivity and you are totally unaware of the sense of time. These microactivities such as emails, Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich recommends to batch them all together the last hour before your break. This way you can decrease the consuming of time and mostly productive time.
- Set specific and strict time constraints to your tasks. Develop a sense of urgency so that you feel more confident and in control. Once again the 4hour workweek introduced me to the concept of Parkinson’s Law. It’s the reason why the majority of students start their assignments in the last-minute but only a small minority or maybe no one misses the deadline. We have a tendency to occupy the time space we are provided with. If we have one week to finish a task, most people use exactly one week. If for the same task they had 3 days, they could still manage it. When you have plenty of time you easily waste it researching everything that comes to your attention or procrastinating. When you don’t have time, you focus only on the important. By pressurizing yourselves with strict deadlines, you accomplish your tasks quicker and either you can do much more, or you have more time to rest and spend with the people you love.
With this set of behaviors you are practically stimulating your brain towards the direction you want to go. I know that to many these might look silly or might say that there is no point doing all these things; “I am very aware of what I want and how to achieve it.” I can assure you that these activities play a significant role in order to go many steps further. And there is a scientific basis behind these. Priming is an implicit effect in which exposure to a stimulus influences a response to a later stimulus. For example, if a person reads a list of words including the word table, and is later asked to complete a word starting with tab, the probability that he or she will answer table is greater than if they are not primed. So this works when you “eat” the healthy “brain foods” in the morning. Journaling has multiple times been proven that it clears our thoughts and we can see them as a third person, in a more objective manner.
Also, the brain needs consistency with the outside world. If you write your goals, read them and feel that you have achieved them, you are convincing your subconscious about the truth of the statements and you make it behave accordingly. The more accustomed you become with a situation, the more natural you behave in it. The brain has a tendency to create an image of any statement it comes across, we are naturally born fulls. And after that image, we maybe consciously understand that it’s not true. This happens automatically and in centiseconds of course. If I mention to you a flying donkey, you will instinctively try to think of a donkey with wings.
It needs to be cleared that all the above are only valuable tools in our arsenal of personal development. By no means they are the panacea. Modern self-help books, unfortunately, provide people the magic pills about success. What in fact they are doing is exploiting that kind of life tips letting people believe that these behaviors are adequate enough to achieve their dreams. Certainly not, the above will change your attitude which naturally will affect your behavior (be more productive and efficient). But if you let them remain just morning habits and don’t follow with action, you will only be an excellent theorist about how to apply.