By November 14, 2010 Read More →

10 Better Ways for Better Days

"Chance favors the prepared mind." — Louis Pasteur

Better DaysWant some simpler ways for better days? …  You can lead a better life, a day at a time, by getting some simple habits on your side.

Here are 10 effective ways to make the most of what you’ve got as you hack your way through the daily jungle of life:

1.  Bootstrap Your Day with a Startup Routine.

Avoid distractions by design.  Get the edge by starting off with a routine that springboards your success.  For me, I start my day by throwing on my sneakers for a 30 minute run, then hit the shower, then eat breakfast slowly, then take the back way to work, while I listen to my favorite songs and map out my day.

2. Use The Rule of 3. 

You can use The Rule of 3 to chop your day down to size.  Use three stories to drive your day.  Simply ask yourself, “What are three results I want for today?”  If you’re having a great day, maybe this translates to … "win a raving fan," "complete a chapter of your next book," and "dance with the stars."  Simply design a compelling day before you start.  Use those three outcomes to guide, prioritize, and focus all your tasks in a meaningful way.  If you’re having a bad day, maybe your three outcomes are simply have a great breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

3. Do Worst Things First.

Rather than let something loom over your head all day, get it out of the way so the rest of your day is a glide path.  The exception here is if you have a monstrosity that will chew up a few hours.  If that’s the case, start with it, but timebox it.  If you can’t finish it off in an hour, then take a break, refresh and renew, then come back and finish things off.

4. Lead with Your "Why."

When you can’t find your motivation, what that means is you don’t have a compelling "why."  When your MoJo’s not working and you can’t get it in gear, the best thing you can do is find your "why" and get your game on.  Inspire yourself from the inside out by connecting to your values. If you enjoy adventure, then turn your tasks into an amazing journey.  If you enjoy learning, than make it a learning experience.  If you like mastery, then turn your task before you into a challenge and a chance to master your craft.

5. Ask Yourself, What’s Right with this Scenario?

Direct your life by pointing your metaphorical camera to the positive side of things and set the stage for the scenes you want to see.  If you always step into a scenario and ask yourself, "What’s wrong with this picture?", try asking yourself, "What’s right?…".

6. Follow the Passion. 

If you want to get more done in less time, then use your best energy to make things happen.  Your best energy comes from following your passion.  You can either chase the things you enjoy, or you can find a way to enjoy the things you do.  To put this another way … find the job you love, or love the job you’re with.

7. Ask Better Questions.

Changing your questions, changes your focus.  You can guide your day simply by asking better question.  For example, "What do you want today be about?" … "Who do you want to be and what experiences do you want to create?" … "What’s your next best thing to do?" … "What do you want to accomplish?"

8. Link it to Good Feelings. 

If you want to rock your day, then link things you do to good feelings.  Sometimes this is as simple as playing your favorite song.  Other times, this might mean using a better metaphor.  For example, are you chipping away at the grindstone, or are you taking the bull by the horns.  The right metaphor is like Popeye with spinach.

9.  Savor the Moments.

Little things can mean a lot, and not everything is a Hallmark moment, but savor the moments that matter, and catch yourself in those magical moments.  Bloggers and photographers seem to have a way of capturing moments that are just all too easy to slip by.  Know when to put the brakes on and smell those flowers.

10. Cap Your Day with Four Questions.

I’m not sure why this works so well … it might be because it re-enforces an attitude of gratitude and it points your camera to the highlights of your day.  Here are four questions I use to cap my day:

  1. What did I learn?
  2. What did I improve?
  3. What did I enjoy?
  4. What kind act did I do?

You don’t have to adopt these all at once to get the impact. 

Simply start with the ideas that tickle your fancy the most.  You’ll quickly find that the more you drive your day, the better you’ll feel.  Your success will spread to other areas of your life and as you adopt more of the hacks, you’ll be able to deal with any curve balls life happens to throw your way.

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Photo by  goXunuReviews.

14 Comments on "10 Better Ways for Better Days"

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  1. alik says:

    Working on #3 – I perfectly know it is the right thing, but it is the hardest thing too. Postponing is so tempting.

  2. Lance says:

    JD,
    I’m really liking this idea of “The Rule of 3″. I think this can really focus me in on what matters – and I plan to begin playing with this immediately. Thanks!!

  3. Hey J.D.,

    I agree with Alik above, go for #3! Get it over with, otherwise it gets in the way and it rolls into the next day, ad infinitum

    Giulietta

  4. JD says:

    @ Alik — Some people call it “eat your vegetables, then desert.” I think one way to make the shift is to turn it into a game of how quickly you can nail your worst thing.

    @ Lance — The beauty of the Rule of 3 is how you can zoom into your day, or zoom out to the week, month, or year and see the forest for the trees. If nothing else, it’s a great tool for dealing with overload.

    @ Giulietta — It sure can be tough to delay gratification, but it’s a habit that pays off daily. One way to practice is to chunk up your worst thing for the day and at least put a good dent in it.

  5. Hilary says:

    Hi JD .. I love the quote .. it is so true – “Chance favours the prepared mind”. Your ‘better ways ..’ are always so good .. and the cap your day with four questions .. could go hand in hand with the preparedness for the next day .. your list ..

    Getting the difficult tasks out of the way – the sooner the better, but remember the other necessary tasks too .. and focus on what’s important for you and the job in hand or your business .. focus on the essential = your bread and butter. The jam follows …

    Thank you for using the phrase ‘tickle your fancy’ .. I’ve been wondering whether I can use it .. as I know some words and phrase mean ‘completely different embarrassing’ things your side of the pond – so I can – yea!!

    Thanks JD .. excellent post .. always good to read – Hilary

  6. JD says:

    @ Hilary — Thank you. I know what you mean about how some phrases can means different things across the pond. I’ve been exposed to a lot of though through “Are You Being Served?” … one of my favorite shows :)

  7. Hilary says:

    Hi JD .. I agree it’s a fun one .. I enjoy it too .. I missed it first time round as I was in South Africa and Equity wouldn’t allow their shows to be shown .. so we got Kojak .. for want of anything I can think of! Not the same genre – but one could totally switch off .. and watch lolly man!!?!

    Good to know re the phrases .. I try and remember to be careful & words too .. Thanks for replying .. enjoy tomorrow – H

  8. Kelly says:

    Great list! I think #5 really helps with #6 – asking ‘whats right’ will help lead you to your passion. Its good to remember that even when you’re having bad days there is something to learn from it, and if you take the right action it can lead you in a direction of more happiness. I also completely agree with #3 – the longer you put off your “I dont want to do this” list the more you won’t want to do it! There’s always going to be things on our list we don’t want to do but the rest of the day will be so much more productive if you knock those out.

  9. JD says:

    @ Kelly — Thank you! I think you’re right — nailing # 5 does create opportunities to find the passion and follow the path. I had to learn long ago to get rid of whatever was looming over me or at least give it a good whack.

  10. Perfect! I like the finishing #10 that leads to continuos personal improvement.

  11. JD says:

    @ Primoz — Thank you. It’s such a little exercise, but so powerful.

  12. Wyn says:

    J.D,
    Great list of actions to improve anyone’s day. #1, I start my days off with a chia seed mix drink to power my day.

  13. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote
    the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog.

    An excellent read. I’ll certainly be back.