The First Thing Everyday

The First Thing Everyday

I have always made my bed first thing in the morning. I don’t think about it. I just do it and have done so every single day for years. It’s just a natural part of my daily routine. I don’t see it as a chore or a waste of time, but a great way to start the day on a positive note by getting something simple done. I even make my half of the bed if my husband is still sleeping in it.

However, no matter how hard I try, I cannot convince my kids to make their beds, ever! They don’t see any value in it. To them, making the bed is just a waste of time since they’ll get back in it and it’ll just get messed up again. So, why bother?

Well, research reported in Psychology Today shows that “bed makers are happier and more successful than those who don’t.” In 2014, Naval SEAL Admiral McRaven included the following remarks in his commencement address at The University of Texas at Austin:

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

In my completely informal, unscientific Facebook survey, 66% of my Facebook friends make their beds every morning for exactly these reason. It makes them feel good and gets their day started in the right direction. Many also commented on how it feels good to end the day getting into a made bed.

To make it easier to make your bed each day, you can get rid of the extra pillows and cushions, remove the middle flat sheet or just use a duvet and simply pull it up. Believe it or not there’s now a SMARTduvet that comes with a phone app that will automatically make the bed for you. Not sure that this counts as making your bed, but maybe I should order it for my kids since they would simply push a “Make Bed” button on their smartphone to get their day started on the right foot.

TRY THIS OUT: If you don’t normally make your bed, try it for a few days in a row and see how it impacts your day and how you feel. If you do normally make your bed, try not to for a few days, does it even make a difference?

Make Your 2017 Resolution a Reality

Make Your 2017 Resolution a Reality

We spend so much time worrying about all the little things that need our attention and need to get done. The start of a new year is a great time to think about the big picture. Take some time now to think about what over-arching thing would you like to improve, change or accomplish this year. Be sure to only pick one thing. Any more than one is too much.

Think of it as coming up with your personal theme for the year. One year, I wanted to focus on embracing change. Another year I decided to work on becoming a better listener. You may want to become more productive or patient or achieve a specific goal like writing a book or launching a new product. Perhaps you want to lose weight or eat healthier, save money or read more. It doesn’t matter what you choose to do so long as it’s one thing and it is a SMART goal that is specific and measurable.

That’s the starting point and for many, unfortunately that’s also often the end of it as well. Once you have selected a theme, then what? You get busy, people demand your attention, you get distracted by other things and before you know it, several months have passed by. Sound familiar?

It doesn’t have to end at the beginning. Once you have selected your annual theme, devote some time to thinking about the specific things you will do to achieve that goal or make that change. Write down distinct, measurable tasks that can be done in a set amount of time. Then, take that list and prioritize it. Start by selecting the top three first, knowing that you can always go back and pick a few more. You can use a task management app like priorigami: the art of productivity to help you track and prioritize your tasks.

When you have identified your top three priority tasks, schedule time on your calendar to get them done. This piece is critical. The only sure-fire way to get something done is to schedule it. And just to be safe, schedule a backup time as well in case something comes up preventing you from tackling it the first time.

Just as important as completing tasks, is documenting your progress. One easy and reliable way to track your progress is by keeping a Done list. It will feel good and it’s a good motivator to visually see what you have accomplished. Also, hopefully you’ll be seeing real world benefits as well.

TRY THIS OUT: What’s your personal theme for 2017? What are some specific tasks that you can do to achieve your goal? Prioritize three of them and schedule time on your calendar to get them done this month.

To Resolve or Not to Resolve?

To Resolve or Not to Resolve?

Another new year is upon us and we all get another fresh start. This time of year, 45% of us set New Year’s Resolutions to help us achieve our goals in the year ahead. So, does this tradition actually work?

While only 8% of those who made resolutions succeed in fully achieving them, people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t make any resolutions at all. So, why not give it a try this year?

The biggest reasons for failure are having too many goals, setting unrealistic goals, not keeping track of progress and forgetting about the goal or losing interest. Every one of these obstacles can be easily overcome if you are truly committed to making a change. So, how should you set your resolution this year?

First, select only one goal. It’s better to identify one thing and focus on achieving it versus picking several and not accomplishing any of them. Change is hard no matter what it is, so just tackle one thing at a time.

The top five resolutions people made in 2015 were to:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Get Organized
  3. Spend Less/Save More
  4. Enjoy Life
  5. Say Fit and Healthy

One common theme each of these goals shares is that they are grand, over-arching and ambiguous. You will be a lot more successful if you set SMART goals. When setting a SMART goal, simply make sure it is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

So, instead of “Lose Weight,” set a goal to “Walk 10,000 steps a day and limit your caloric intake to 2,000 calories a day.” If that’s too over-whelming, start with one and then add in the other when you’re ready.

Instead of “Get Organized,” set a goal to “Download priorigami and use it to track tasks and set and complete your top three priorities each day.”

Instead of “Spend Less/Save More,” set a goal to “Limit weekly spending to $200 and save $500 a month.”

In 2016, I wanted to focus on fitness but I was very overwhelmed facing a big huge commitment to exercise so I started by dedicating at least 5 minutes every day to fitness. I wrote down “Five 4 Fit” and hung it up on my bathroom mirror to serve as a daily reminder of my goal. I am happy to say that by starting out small I was able to commit to my goal and now I’m exercising daily as part of my routine.

TRY THIS OUT: If you were to set one resolution for 2017, what would it be? How can you turn that into a SMART goal? Are you up for the challenge? How will you track your progress and reward yourself along the way?