Want Maximum Productivity and Progress? Do this.

Mike Lawson • MusicEd: Mentor Minute • August 29, 2019

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Think back to this morning. Can you remember the first thing you did? Was your phone the first thing that you saw?

Did you open up social media, or email, and let the world bombard you with information that you don’t necessarily need to know, or even care to?

Most of us start our day this way, even though there have been numerous studies on the importance of how you start out your day. We tend to jump right into examining the demands of others on us, instead of examining and strengthening ourselves. It’s no wonder we feel stressed and anxious.

Establishing a morning routine that sets your day up for success, happiness, and progress is an essential habit of the most successful educators. Want to capitalize on the benefits they reap? Here’s your optimal morning routine.

1. Start with a hot drink

Whether you enjoy coffee, tea, or hot cocoa, having a little warm incentive to get you up and out of bed is a joy. I use my programmable coffee maker to have my beverage ready for me when I first wake up, the smell of coffee filling the house. Use a favorite mug, and sip the joy.

2. Get your body moving

You don’t have to hit the gym every morning. You could head out for a run, walk, bike, swim, stretch, or just do yoga. Getting the blood pumping will wake you up and energize you for the day ahead. I like to use a YouTube playlist of yoga routines that range from 10-45 minutes so I don’t have to think to much, just roll out my mat and push play. Not sure how to start? Try a few different things until you discover which one is exciting enough to get you looking forward to it.

3. Recall your reasons

We all have a reason why we do the things we do- why we teach, why we exercise, why we work hard, or leave work at work. Many of us put your reasons on a vision board, using words or photos, and placing it where we can see it throughout the day. You could also make it as a note on your phone, or update your lock screen to an image that will remind you of your reasons. It could be the image of a new car, a vacation spot, your family – whatever your reasons are for moving forward.

4. Read

Most of us have a list of books we want to get through, and yet we feel that we never will. By setting aside just a few minutes for reading each morning we can capitalize on all the benefits of not only the content in the books we read, but the cognitive benefits of reading itself. It doesn’t have to be books, either. You can read blogs, magazines, scores, or whatever media you prefer.

5. Write in your journal

The benefits of journaling have also been well-documented. Your journal can become a place to chronicle your life, consider your own thoughts, contain your poetry, work through frustration, celebrate successes, blueprint your future…all while keeping your writing skills up.

6. Meditation

We spend so much of our day surrounded by sound: music playing in the car, instruments and voices blaring in our classroom, talking in meetings and at home. Yet the benefits of silent meditation have again and again been proven to help establish a clearer mind, and an ability to stay calm under stress.

Unfortunately, sitting in silence in an attempt to “clear our thoughts” can be a challenge that creates more frustration than calm. That’s why I recommend instead of thinking of nothing, to focus instead on how you want to feel. Meditation can become your time to practice feeling happy, joyful, confident, content…or however you want to feel the rest of the day. Just as we expect our students to spend time practicing their musical skills to become better musicians, we, too, can practice our skills at being happy to become consistently happier people. This one morning routine can be one of the most transformative. You will be more calm, thoughtful, and a better teacher, able to manage anything that comes your way.

My challenge to you is to try it for a week. Get out of bed 15 minutes early, with this checklist in hand, and work your way through each action. Before falling asleep at night, remind yourself of how exciting spending these first few moments of the day setting up for joyful success will be.

I guarantee, by taking time every morning to focus on the things that will help make you a more efficient, happier teacher, you’re going to be able to maintain a more consistent lifestyle of work-life balance, and a longer, happier career.

A former K8 music educator, Elisa Janson Jones specializes in helping music educators build, manage, and grow thriving school music programs. With an MBA alongside her degree in music, she is also a coach and consultant to small businesses and nonprofits around the country and serves as the conductor of her local community band. Elisa is the host and producer of the Music Ed Mentor podcast, and a favorite conference presenter. She is the founder of the International Music Education Summit and the author of The Music Educator’s Guide to Thrive.

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