Using Routine Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed (Holiday Edition)

This time of year, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of commitments booked into your diary.

You have:

  • Holiday parties.
  • Work deadlines.
  • Catch-ups with friends, family, your book club, and your daughter’s netball team.
  • Cooking.
  • Cleaning.
  • Relatives.
  • Beach days.
  • Christmas Shopping.
  • Santa Photos.

Whoa. Undoubtedly, your calendar is filling up with countless obligations this time of year.  You’ve penciled in more events than stops on Santa’s annual sleigh tour, but have failed to calendar in anytime for yourself.  The truth is that during this time of year more than any other, you need a way to restore balance, calmness, and organization to your life.  To be the hostess with the mostess, the life of the party, parent of the year, and keep your day job, you need to find a way to be a serene little ball of energy in the centre of the holiday frenzy.

Here’s the trick: start first thing. Bring respite to your day as soon as you wake up with a morning ritual. Creating and sticking to a morning ritual is a tried and proven way to stay sane during the most turbulent of times.  Just ask world-class performers like Tim Ferriss, Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, and Barack Obama. If reliance on their morning rituals helped them through startups, IPOs, and running the United States, then doing the same little things each day will can you stability in a tumultuous world of wrapping paper, Christmas carols, pavlova, and cocktails.

Tim Ferriss author of The 4 Hour Work Week and Tools of the Titans, has interviewed hundreds of highly successful people – from Tony Robbins to Vince Vaughn – about the habits that have made them who they are.  One thing that came up over and over again was the morning routine. So, over time, Tim picked and adapted a few of his favourite practices and made them into a morning routine of his own which includes making his bed, exercising, journaling and drinking a special tea with coconut oil in it before he sits down to work.

Like Tim, you can create a centring morning ritual of your own by stealing a few ideas from some of the world’s greatest minds and top performers.  Below are some morning rituals from the best of the best.

Tony Robbins, the world’s most famous life and business coach, rises early and uses a practice he calls, “priming,” where he combines Pranayama breathing with expressing gratitude.  He feels this 10-minute practice lets him master and ready his inner world each day so he can kill it in his outer world.

And then there’s billionaire media superstar, Oprah Winfrey, who begins each day with meditation followed by at least 20 minutes on the treadmill.  Oprah swears that this small amount of cardiovascular exercise increases her productivity throughout her entire day. After her workout, she likes to centre herself by listening to music or going on a walk.

Finally, take a page out of the book of former President Obama’s personal routine.  While he was president, he would wake up early (at least two hours before his first event) and get a good dose of high-intensity exercise.  He limited his meal and clothing choices significantly to avoid decision making fatigue. Next, he would always meet with his Chief of Staff, go over his day, and identify his most important tasks.  The President also had a well planned evening routine that involved spending time with his family, tying up loose ends for the next day, and reading to relax and shut down his brain before sleep.

Start Here: Practices to Incorporate into your Daily Routine

  • Wake up early – You’ll find that many successful people get up early and make the most of their mornings.  Early mornings provide time with fewer distractions to get yourself mentally and physically charged for the day.
  • Make your bed – Making your bed or organizing your room clears external distractions to help remove internal ones.
  • Meditate – Try spending just 10 minutes focusing on your breathing or use a meditation app like Headspace or Calm.
  • Breathe – Connecting your mind with your breath reduces anxiety and depression, increases energy levels, increases relaxation, and improves mental concentration.  Try a short session of Pranayama breathing each day when you wake up.
  • Exercise – Depending on your schedule, having a full-on workout or just a mini-workout can energise your body and your mind.  For those limited on time, a short work out can prime your brain for focus.
  • Breakfast and/or coffee routine – Eating or drinking the same thing every day takes the guesswork and deliberation out making healthy choices.  You may opt to intentionally eat a small breakfast or no breakfast at all but try eating the same thing at the same time every day.  Bulletproof Coffee or Tea (coffee or tea blended with butter or coconut oil) is a favourite among many top performers as a breakfast replacement.
  • Use a Planner to Keep MMTs (Most Meaningful Tasks) – Plan your days in advance and keep a list of the most important things you need to get done for each day.  Keep these tasks in a notebook or planner so when you start work you immediately know what you need to get done first.
  • Journaling – Try taking a few minutes to write down whatever comes to mind as a way to release anything and everything before getting down to the business end of the day. Alternatively, start a gratitude journal or use your writing time for problem-solving.

“We are the sum of our actions, and therefore our habits make all the difference.” -Aristotle

Learning about yourself and understanding what makes you stressed, happy, and productive is necessary to become successful.  If you habitually start each day feeling calm and ready, no amount of Christmas craziness can knock you off your path. Your hectic schedule will take over your life if you let it, so make time for you by waking up early each day and adopting a practice that suits you even the day after Melbourne Cup, the office Christmas party, New Year’s Eve.  After all, you are the sum of your habits.

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