Multipotentialitie Mornings: How to Guarantee Success for the Day
Photo courtesy of Michael Pham.

Multipotentialitie Mornings: How to Guarantee Success for the Day

Written by Emilie

Topics: Guest Posts, Productivity

This is a guest post by Nathan Agin of Nonstop Awesomeness.

Does your day start, or do you start your day?

Taking a shower and eating breakfast can be necessary parts of your morning, but what about activities that allow you to live your strongest days, preparing you to tackle all your creative work and whatever life might throw your way?

As a multipotentialite, you probably know all too well (as I do) what it’s like to juggle about 1000 different things (give or take a couple) at the same time. The only way I can focus on all my creative goals is to set myself up for the greatest day possible, and that means readying my mind and body to operate at its highest level. Think about activities that you know will give you a powerful mindset for the day ahead. These don’t have to be huge life-altering changes; I’ll illustrate how the smallest actions can make huge improvements to your creativity and energy.

Let’s move from rushing around in the morning with barely enough time for the essentials to practicing the activities that support and develop us on a daily basis!

This might include:

  • Exercise and stretching
  • Journaling, goal setting, and creative writing
  • Telling someone you love them
  • Even smiling at everyone you meet!

It’s all about bringing more consciousness and focus into your life. If you want to make progress on all of your interests and avoid the pitfall of distraction, it’s time to take an active role in creating your days, instead of just rolling along with the rest of the pack.

Skip the Email

As soon as you wake up, what do you do? Are you heading right for the computer or Blackberry just to “take a quick look at email?” Then an hour later, you’re still hovered over the screen, attempting to put out other people’s fires or reading that blog post you won’t remember five minutes later.

What if, right upon waking up – before you even left your bed – you choose five things you’re grateful for? Bam – right off the bat, you’re placing your brain into a positive place. If there’s someone next to you in the morning, perhaps you could share five things you most admire about him or her. I guarantee there’ll be smiles all around.

We’re talking about expressing gratitude here, and it’s important stuff. Like, seriously crucial. There have even been studies done on people who keep a gratitude journal that have shown increased levels of happiness!

DO THIS…

Take five seconds right now to think of one thing you’re truly grateful for… got it?

Cool – any chance you feel even slightly happier than you did 10 seconds ago? :-)

Master the Monkey

Your mind is restless, constantly jumping from idea to idea, always coming up with new projects, new things to learn, and it never seems to end. Picture this: our brain is like a crazy, drunk, scorpion-stung monkey, swinging recklessly from vine to vine. That’s what we’re working with in our head, and it’s time to tame that little guy or gal.

Take a deep breath and exhale, as we check out from the hustle of life and into meditation. We need a time in our day to silence all the noise (internal and external), to unplug from the rest of the world, and to check in with what is going on inside of us. I’ve heard it said that if prayer is talking, meditation is listening – it’s a quiet space to “hear” the answers we’re searching for.

If you’re brand new to this practice, I recommend starting with a small amount – set yourself up for success! Pick either 30 or 60 seconds (whichever sounds less ridiculous), and here’s what you do: close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Feel your body going through that process. Bring all of your attention to that event. As thoughts naturally start to appear, and you begin writing that email response or planning your next meal, acknowledge the thoughts (with no judgment), allow them to drift away, and come back to your breathing. That’s it! You’re on your way to much more powerful focus in your life!

DO THIS…

Right now, close your eyes for 30 seconds and focus on your breath. Don’t worry – no one is watching. :-)

How’d that feel? Was anything stressing you out before? Is that tension still there? Any chance you feel more relaxed?

Take the Break

Whether you’re working from home or heading off to an office, taking care of kids, paperwork, or animals, there is much to do and you need a way to sustain your energy.

I know the common practice is to work an eight-hour day filled with calls, meetings and emails, taking a short break and a lunch at some point, but that system doesn’t work, and it’s not how we are designed to operate. There are natural rhythms in life, ebbs and flows, and it’s the same with our body and mind. So, we need to find focused, uninterrupted blocks of time if we really want to be productive. Turn off your phone and your email, and no Facebook!

The mind works best when it has a single task to concentrate on. Did you know that multitasking is actually severely unproductive, as it requires our brain to shift gears from project to project? It may only be milliseconds, but those add up, and restrict us from reaching momentum with our work.

Now the other part to sustained energy and concentration is rejuvenation. After a block of time – no more than 90 minutes or two hours max – go for a walk, do a quick workout, take a nap, or eat – anything to take your mind off work and to give your body and brain a chance to rest and recuperate. Besides, when do you get your best ideas? Chances are they don’t come when you’re sitting at your desk! ;-)

With a system of focused blocks, broken up by strategic recovery periods, you’ll have more energy throughout the day, will be more productive, and will feel more rested at the end of it.

DO THIS…

Stop reading this article right now and go for a walk. No, seriously. It could be around your house or the office floor, or out to get the mail. Something short and simple. We’ll be here when you get back. I promise.

How was that? Feel more refreshed or alert? For an added bonus: was there actual human interaction while on your stroll? :-)

Let’s do this!

What’s important to you?

  • Exercise?
  • Nutrition?
  • Family?
  • Reading?

Have you been saying something is important yet keep telling yourself that you don’t have the time right now to fit it into your life? Or maybe you don’t think you know enough to dive in: “I’m not a good cook, I don’t know what exercises to do, etc.” Whatever the reason, know that it’s just your mind resisting the change.

Our brain likes to keep everything status quo, because in some cases, that keeps us safe (a big part of our evolutionary survival). When it comes to personal growth, however, that part of our brain is not helping. It’s time, with baby steps, to move past that comfort zone.

Can you get up 15 minutes earlier tomorrow to fit in a quick bit of yoga, prepare a nutritious breakfast, spend some quality time with your loved ones, or read an inspiring passage?

That’s all it takes: one small step. Just start doing it and keep doing it. Stay accountable – whether you have your own system or you check in with a friend, it’s important to cultivate that discipline in your life. Eventually the new habit will become a natural part to your day, creating momentum in your life and leading to even more wonderful changes!

So I ask again: how will you start your day? :-)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on daily practices – have you tried anything suggested above? What has been your experience? What other daily habits do you use?

Thanks to Brian Johnson (with PhilosophersNotes) for the monkey description.

In addition to meditation and gratitude, Nathan Agin practices and believes in a life of Nonstop Awesomeness, that life is always awesome when we bring our best to each moment. He spent many years in Los Angeles as an actor (he did get paid!) until he decided to get rid of everything and begin traveling full-time. He writes for his own blog, consults on how to travel for free, coaches on reaching goals, lives life to the fullest, and searches out passionate people to interview. He’s currently traveling to and living in different cities around the United States..

31 Comments

  1. Brian Gerald says:

    Yoga and dance class keep me grounded. Between working from home and having a bunch of interests and projects, scheduled activities (that move my body and feed my spirit) have been a huge boon for my mental health, my productivity, and my general well-being.

    • Nathan Agin says:

      i totally agree, brian! being someone else on my own schedule, i’ve found it necessary to really create how i’m going to approach the day so that i can get done what i need to get done!

      and the dance class sounds fun – what type?

      thanks for reading!

  2. Heidi says:

    Hi Brian, I think one’s chances of having an awesome day can be increased by just being more aware – aware of your breath, aware of what you want to do today, aware of where today fits into larger plans, aware of all of the great things and people around you, etc. Living life on automatic is a natural result of being dedicated to important long term tasks. The simple suggestions that you make, however, can have the powerful side-effect of bringing more awareness into the routine, which, as you mention, makes you feel happier, even if you’ve changed nothing else.

    Thanks for such a straight-forward and positive post! I’ve already emailed it to my husband with a message for us to discuss it over dinner tonight. Obrigada!

    • Nathan Agin says:

      hey heidi-

      first – you’re very welcome for the post, i had a blast writing it! and i’m totally in agreement with bringing more awareness into our lives – in everything we do.

      one of my favorite quotes is: “how you do anything is how you do everything.”

      and eckart tolle talks about how to live in the moment AND have goals – it’s not an either/or; it’s definitely a balance.

      would love to hear what ideas you and your husband come up with!

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Heidi,

      I completely hear you on cultivating awareness/conscious living. That has been one of the biggest themes of my life in recent years. It’s really changed how I interact with other people and with myself.

      Thanks for sharing!

  3. Benny says:

    I’m one week into a 30 day gratitude journal. I write in it every morning and every night before bed. While I’m making breakfast I try and give thanks too. I do need to do more to my morning routine though to make it more powerful. I want to add 5 mins of visualization and affirmations as well!

    Great post.

    • Nathan Agin says:

      i LOVE the 30 day format, benny – i just used it to help myself (and others) create a new habit. mine was taking an afternoon walk (if for no other reason, to get me out of the house at least once per day), and has been a wonderful addition to my life.

      i think the more we say and think just the simple words “thank you,” the more goodness we’re going to attract, because we’re AWARE of all the great things that have happened so far!

      and love the baby step commitment with visualizations/affirmations – 5 mins sounds like a great start. would love to hear how things are rockin’ for ya at the end of your 30 days!

      • Benny says:

        I’ve got some people doing 30 days of gratitude with me after I wrote about doing it. I look forward to hearing feedback from them too. Will do a wrtieup!

        • Emilie says:

          Yes! Both gratitude and 30 day routines have become a big part of my life too. Well actually, 21 day routines. I read somewhere that it takes 21 days to adopt a new habit, so I usually try to stick with something for 3 weeks, but then I almost always keep on going. Same idea though. Tres cool.

  4. Angela says:

    Thanks for this post! I needed advice to get back into a normal, productive routine. I’m recovering from a back injury and am doing well, but I’m feeling in a funk. Starting with a good morning might be just the trick to get back on track. I like the “think of 5 things you’re grateful for” tip. Totally going to try that tomorrow. Thanks!

    • Nathan Agin says:

      you’re so welcome angela – and thrilled to hear how you’re going to start your days! Good luck with the recovery, and let us know how it goes tomorrow. :-)

  5. I get two mornings: my own alone time, and the together time when Best Beloved wakes up a couple hours later. Years ago I gave myself permission to do whatever I feel like until she’s awake, as long as I’m ready to be positive and help her have a good start to her day when that happens.

    Having a reason for how I spend the time has changed it from trudging through stuff to something like waiting for the arrival of a long-expected guest.

  6. Sue Canfield says:

    My morning isn’t complete without that cup of tea with Joel and our chat.

    I’ve journaled for years and often do that as well to get my day started. And once I’ve showered, it’s full steam ahead.

    My friend, Hal Elrod, created The Miracle Morning (http://theMiracleMorning.com) and many have found his early start program very effective.

  7. Nathan Agin says:

    great link, Sue! and i agree that journaling is a great way to get the mind racing!

  8. Lisa Kanarek says:

    I work out first thing in the morning. Otherwise, once I start my day, working out won’t fit into my schedule.

    Something I’ve quit doing is checking e-mail first thing in the morning. You’re right that a quick check can turn into an hour or two in front of the computer. That doesn’t do much for productivity! Thanks for sharing these tips.

    • While I subscribe entirely to the general philosophy of not getting sucked into email in the morning, I’ve realised it doesn’t apply to me. Now, hold on a second, I’ll explain!

      Since my work is entirely based on my communication with the clients I’m currently interacting with, and since my writing is often sparked by the comments of friends and colleagues, checking my email first thing in the morning is like taking the patient’s temperature. Helps me determine where to focus that day.

      Since I use part of each day for quadrant 1, stuff that’s important and urgent, and set aside part of it for quadrant 2, stuff that’s important, but not urgent, I can use my quick-burn energy in the morning for responding to others’ needs, and my slow-growth energy for building myself and creating stuff in the afternoon and then again during my late-night power-read-n-write sessions.

      • Nathan Agin says:

        haha – excellent points, Joel (as usual).

        for myself, i know that often i can get sucked in by a newsletter or special deal, etc. what i’m doing now is filtering all that stuff to separate folders (including notices from Facebook & Twitter) so that I’m not distracted by those things in the morning. being able to see only important communications from colleagues, family, friends is something i’m driving towards. though i can still get offtrack with an email from mom… :-)

        of course, at the end of the day – it’s whatever system works best for you!

        i often have late-night energy spouts, so looking at how I can juggle that along with enough sleep and early morning productivity.

        thanks for taking the time to share more ideas!

    • Nathan Agin says:

      ditto on scheduling a work out – it’s the first thing I do, too!

      glad you enjoyed the article!

  9. Morgan says:

    Skipping the email is the hardest part for me!!

    My mornings are usually productive after I get coffee in me.

    Taking little walks or just stepping away for a bit is always a great idea. I always come back refreshed and with new ideas!

    Good stuff!

  10. First thing, make coffee. Second thing, review my daily ToDo list. Third, check my calendar for conflicts with what I need/want to do that day. I play a lot of late night soccer games, so most of the time I don’t get going until an hour after I wake up, and I slowly rev up into my day.

  11. Well, as a self-confirmed addict I’m not sure how much the coffee helps, but having it as a ritual is helpful. I think the ritualistic aspect really is key, along with allowing oneself the ability to deviate from time to time.

    • Nathan Agin says:

      i think that raises an interesting point: during the time you would normally make coffee, could you substitute something that you *know* helps you out?

      • I guess what I was trying to get at was that it’s a ritual. Having the morning ritual helps to start the day, and so making coffee helps. I’m not saying it’s a hindrance, I could also make tea and most likely get the same effect.

        It reminds me of my grandfather, actually. He was a farmer in Alabama and would start his mornings by drinking his coffee, smoking a cigarette and watching the sunrise from his porch. I feel that such rituals (minus the cigarettes), help to get all days started. It provides a basic rhythm and constant.

  12. This is a really great post Nathan. I do a bunch of things because I know that if I don’t do them, there will be consequences. I usually wake up and do planks and ab exercises, not because I want a six pack (I already have one) but for back pain. From there I eat a high protein breakfast. I ate fast food for 3 days and it did not measure too well. Special K protein plus cereal, it’s all sorts of awesome. Then I swallow about 7 pills, multivitamins, minerals, thyroid medicine. I bike everyday.

    All these things really keep me from slothing around, or mindlessly throwing myself from place to place, like checking my Email or doing random unproductive things.

    • Nathan Agin says:

      thanks so much, Jonathan! quite the awesome routine you got there. :-)

      have you found specific ways to limit how much you’re spending on email or being unproductive?

  13. Deb says:

    That was awesome Nathan. I write most every morning, but it’s often a brain-dump … and after reading your article, I tossed out a few: “I’m grateful for”s. And I liked it.

    I’ll do it tomorrow too. (could start with: grateful for your article goosin’ me into a ‘tude of grati …)

  14. Nathan Agin says:

    thanks so much deb!

    thrilled to hear the gratitudes resonated with ya!

    excited to see what’s ahead – looks like you’re certain to have a successful day! :-)

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