Importance of Morning and Evening RoutineRashi Bhargava
For the last few months, I have been experimenting with Time Management and my daily routine, how do I manage many hats I have to don as an entrepreneur. All of us have our preferred working styles and have different demands placed upon us. We must experiment with different methods and strategies to find out what works best for us, or what fits best with the daily demands of life.
I come from a family where Time Management and organizing is part of DNA, it should have been easy as fortunately and unfortunately, I like to believe that I have inherited the most of this DNA among my 22 cousins 😊 Still faced challenges due to multiple activities, I have always been involved post my lay-off. Wanting to catch upon the years I missed living LIFE 😊. This just caused frustration and anxiety levels. Being a perfectionist compounded my problems.
Therapy and Reboot and Rebuild Focus Bootcamp brought about a radical change. And for the first time started looking at my routine and daily habits closely, dissecting them minutely. What is working and what is not working for me to become the best version of myself and what is going to help me achieve my short, medium- and long-term goals I have set aside for myself.
Morning and unwinding routine were merely theoretical concepts for me till the time I decided to dig deep 😊 and make some sense out of it. Everyday life pulls us up in different directions and since my plans were hazy and not written down, I was swayed by the tide instead of me controlling my life.
The Morning Routine
Credit to my practice for this. Even if I didn’t have a healthy morning routine, what has remained constant with me ever since I started practicing is my morning chanting and Gongyo. Some people may call this meditation. Morning chanting sets the tone for the day.
How many times I have woken up feeling like a bear with a sore head. Had to literally push myself from bed when I did not feel like doing and taking the daily challenges head on. It took me ages to get started, with no clear idea what I should be doing. When you start a day like this, it rarely gets better. Days tend to continue along the lines they started. That is why we need to make the best possible start to the day.
The challenge for all of us that when we wake up our bodies are not prepared to jump start straight into work. So, what we need is a good morning routine which allows us to make a steady start to the day, while the body and mind slowly wake up. Morning time is one of the most likely times we have uninterrupted to ourselves with minimum distractions.
My morning routine:
1.A glass of water-prefer to have lukewarm water. Water helps me in hydration. Even if I was asleep for 8 hours, my body was working and doing valuable maintenance work. Water energies my body.
2.Meditation followed by Chanting and Gongyo. It is a great way to prepare for the day. It soothes and calms your mind and allows it to wake up gradually. It helps me to remove my worrying/negative thoughts and get focused for the day ahead.
Easy to say but difficult to practice. We cannot stop ourselves from having negative thoughts. But what we can control is our own thinking and choose which thoughts to give attention to. Meditation helps you with this.
3.Stretching followed by Walk/run/jog. I am not training to be a marathoner but just trying to be fit and agile. As I am growing old, I realize my body gets more stressed and tense. Muscles get tighten up and lead to body pain and discomfort leading to low productivity. Long sitting and working on a laptop compounds the problem.
Walk/run/jog not only good for physical health but good for mental health too. This is the time when I reflect on the day gone by, the day ahead and think of ideas for my work. This is my time, the most sacred time, the gift I have chosen to give myself.
4.Shower.I read somewhere that showers are almost ritualistic. You wash away what has already happened, your worries. Rubbing yourself with a towel post shower helps in blood circulation and pumps you up for the day. And in doing so you prepare yourself for a fresh start. And each day is a fresh start.
5.Breakfast.One of the most important meals for the day. Lockdown has made me simplify my food habits. For the last few months I have fruit platter consisting of two different fruits with 10 almonds and 2 walnuts which gives me energy to start my day at work. I no longer worry what to prepare thus avoiding stress and decision fatigue 😊
Our Bodies need energy to upkeep our body. Skipping this important meal means you are under fueling your body when it needs the most. Every day the body suffers wear and tear and it needs energy to heal itself.
6.Affirmations.This is something my trainer introduced in my daily life 7 years ago. Got an opportunity to attend a training program Be Your Best leader. There I learnt the importance of starting the day with positive affirmations. Affirmations are a fantastic way of building self-confidence and self-belief.
We were given affirmation cards, which I have kept on my notice board. Make it a point to loudly read them. Morning routine is a great time to use affirmations as it helps face you the day with a positive outlook.
7.Last thing I do as a part of my morning routine is to go through my Calendar and look at my schedule for the day, tasks I need to finish during the course of the day, calls I have to make. Reviewing takes a few minutes and it comes with immense benefits. As I know exactly what needs to be done, put me in the driver’s seat and take charge for the day.
The Evening Routine
If the Morning routine is important for setting the tone for the day and prepares you to take the day challenges head on, the evening routine helps you unwind and give yourself much needed rest, reset and re-energize for the next day.
My Evening Routine
1.Plan for the next day and review your calendar. It is easier to take on the next day when you have planned well. I follow theme based working week. Theme days are a way of “batching” tasks. Productivity experts have found that when we batch tasks, we can work more efficiently and be more productive.
I use Google task, Google calendar and paid version of Todoist extensively and all are seamlessly connected to give me a complete picture of my appointments personal, professional, faith, list of tasks further differentiated by importance.
2.Switch-off gadgets and turn off screens. Using TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal clock (a.k.a., your circadian rhythm), suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep. This is largely due to the short-wavelength, artificial blue light that’s emitted by these devices. The more electronic devices that a person uses in the evening, the harder it is to fall asleep or stay asleep. Besides increasing your alertness at a time when you should be getting sleepy, which in turn delays your bedtime, using these devices before turning in delays the onset of REM sleep, reduces the total amount of REM sleep, and compromises alertness the next morning. Over time, these effects can add up to a significant, chronic deficiency in sleep.
Sleep is most important and is more underrated.8 hours of sleep gives our body much needed rest and a chance to recover from the daily wear and tear. It’s like maintenance time for our body.
3.Do brain dump-This has been my recent learning during the 1-month long bootcamp. A brain dump is a complete transfer of accessible knowledge about a subject from your brain to some other storage medium, such as paper. I keep a pen and writing pad handy all the time.
Brain dumps is a simple yet powerful tool to include in an evening routine. Our mind keeps ticking. When we capture the stuff on our mind, we are more relaxed, knowing well we can refer to this in the morning. Our mind becomes more free to have a relaxed sleep.
4.Plan what you want to wear. This is one routine which I have followed since my childhood. Perfectionist I am, I lay out clothes in order I will be wearing them 😊 This saves a lot of precious morning time in deciding what to wear. Over the years I have simplified my dressing. I am all in for casual wear even for client meetings, unless I am meeting a client in more formal set up.
Of course, in new normal this also may not be required as virtual meetings are replacing in person meetings.
5.Doodle.I love drawing but in life’s pressure and struggles I had forgotten this creative pursuit of mine. On my therapist’s recommendation rekindled my love for doodling. When the mind is clear you see humour in everyday life. My doodles most of the time are humorous take on life.
6.Loving and Kindness writing meditation. It’s a practice tied in with self-love, empathy, understanding, and kindness. This writing meditation is helping me transform my relationships by enabling me to be more kind and loving.
7.Meditate, chant, and do evening Gongyo. My evening Daimoku (Chant) and Prayers (Gongyo) are more like gratitude daimoku for the day that went by and determination for the next day.
I used to think how absurd this is meditating and chanting sounds amidst my hectic schedule. Sitting still when tons of work is weighing on my mind. We are living in the world where we are always wired up and busy juggling from one role to another, jumping from one job to another. But this constant busyness isn’t helping us. Is it? When we are constantly busy and our mind is working non-stop, how do we make right and wise decisions, where to channelize our resources, time and energy.
My therapist introduced me to Headspace meditation app and Yoga Nidra. I have experienced it being a fantastic way of emptying my mind of worries of the day and sleep better.
8.End my day with glass of warm water and a spoonful of Fenugreek
All this sounds good on paper and picture perfect. Being human I am prone to slippages and find it challenging to follow. There are days when I miss some of the things mentioned in my daily routine. What I have learnt is consistency is more important than perfection and stay focused on what matters. Trying hard not to let one off day completely ruin my progress. The routines are Work in progress and with experience I keep tweaking them to become my best efficient self.