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Transform: Morning Rituals to Jump-Start Your Day with Susan Finch

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Susan Finch was one of the most prolific contributors to my 2-book set “Entrepreneur Mind Hacks” . This week, she is offering the “full scoop” of her genius, as we discuss hacks that can move your business forward.

One of Susan’s greatest nuggets that she wrote was, “Productivity starts before you punch the clock” – meaning that before you even sit down to begin your first task of the day, you need to be in the right frame of mind in order to do a great job that day. For Susan, this begins from the second that he morning alarm goes off… before she even lifts her head from her pillow. That’s when she makes the decision to have a great day, do her very best for her clients, be honorable and helpful, and to have a lot of fun!

As Susan puts it, it’s like armoring yourself with Teflon before the kids start fighting in the morning.

But, this doesn’t happen automatically. It takes time to initiate this key to success. But, by taking the time to do this, it enables Susan to transition from each distinct stage of the morning, and even the entire day. When her morning “ritual” becomes routine, then she is much more capable of focusing on what is in front of her and being much more productive.

One lesson Susan learned from her mom was to never even leave her master bedroom until she was ready to take on the day – dressed, hair done, makeup done, teeth brushed, etc. By setting the stage for each day in this way, both Susan and her mother are prepared to take on anything that might spontaneously come their way.

Once she has herself together, then she spends time doing things like preparing her kids lunches, or doing things for her non-profit, or preparing things for a volunteer opportunity at her kid’s school… any number of tasks that are non-work related. In fact, she handles these things before she ever looks at her email or social media. It’s her way of lovingly taking care of those near and dear to her with all of her focus and without the distractions of work and other demands.

This helps her compartmentalize her day from the very beginning, setting the stage for an even more productive day once her work hours begin.

You see, according to Susan, human beings crave structure. We often don’t even realize it, but when we are surrounded by clutter and mess, we also surround ourselves with reminders of unmet obligations or goals. This is depressing!

But, when we declutter our office, home, or even counterspace, we will feel less burdened and be more productive!

Image: Grasshopper.com

Image: Grasshopper.com

Here are some of the “simple tasks” Susan does each morning:

  • Clean the dining room table
  • Feed the pets
  • Clear the kitchen counter

By taking care of these simple tasks, she expresses her love for her family while jump-starting her day with simple productivity. You see, the way that Susan is wired, when she is of service to someone or creating something, she is at her happiest. When she is stuck doing something that doesn’t fall into either of those categories, she simply doesn’t feel right.

Now, most of the time, her efforts go unnoticed. Her kids rarely even recognize that they have a clean place to eat their cereal in the morning or lunches are made. But, we don’t love in order to receive recognition, and when they do notice that she has done something nice for them, the rewards are precious.

All this to say, these morning routines don’t have to be huge, elaborate systems. Sometimes it’s as simple as slicing apples so that her daughter can eat her lunch and talk with a friend without a mouthful of fruit.

But, while it doesn’t need to be elaborate, it does require intentionality. In order to be productive in anything – whether it be as a parent, a homeowner, or a business person, we need to pay attention to what those around us need. This helps us most effectively meet their needs.

It all begins with a proper mindset.

For instance, Susan prays daily, thanking God for her clients that allow her to work from home… establishing a grateful and selfless mindset each and every day.

Susan began learning about this years ago. When she was planning her wedding day, her priest asked her and her fiancé to answer one question (one that had no right or wrong answer) that would lay the foundation for her entire wedding day: Would she be the gracious host or the honored guest?

By deciding to be gracious hosts, they would not disappointed if things didn’t go perfectly throughout the day, but they would be incredibly filled with joy just seeing their friends and family celebrate the special day together.

This translates into her life today, both personally and professionally.

Early in her career, Susan had the opportunity to work under Jack Mealer, an advertizing great from Orange County, CA. While there, she saw a coffee mug that read:

“Our clients do not need us, we need our clients.”

This motto seemed to embody nearly everything that the firm did. Susan learned early on to never take anything for granted. They simply maintained the mindset that they were grateful for the opportunity to serve their clients.

Now, there is no guarantee that each day will end perfectly, but at least she can set the stage well by beginning each day filled with love, fun, creativity and productivity!

But what happens if your day takes an unexpected turn and suddenly becomes one of “those days”, despite your best efforts?

Susan offers some mindset game changers:

  • You can choose when to stop being in a bad mood, culminating into a choice when to stop having a bad day. Sometimes this is incredibly difficult, especially when we find ourselves so mired in our rough circumstances that we can’t see a way out of them. Susan is blessed to have a husband who will honestly (and lovingly) call her out when she begins to spiral. We all need someone like that. But when he’s not around, sometimes a simply change of location helps immensely! Try taking a quick walk outside. Getting out, away from your desk will help spur creativity and problem-solving.
  • Or, when your day takes a rough turn, call a friend or relative with the purpose of listening to them. Listen carefully about what is going on in their lives and respond with empathy and care. Too often, we make life all about ourselves. By actively listening to someone else, we set our perspectives into a more self-less mode.
  • Next, get out a pencil and paper. Stop typing on your computer. When we express ourselves through actual penmanship, a different part of our brain is engaged. So doodle, or make a list. It can be on paper, or a white board, or in chalk… whatever you prefer.
  • If you can, do some gardening. Susan’s not even a “gardener”. But, getting down in the dirt and getting your hands dirty – whether it’s mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, or planting petunias – offers a sense of instant gratification, accomplishment, and like writing on paper, engages and stimulates a different part of the brain, which will promote productivity and problem solving. Vacuuming the carpet or ironing clothes will achieve the same outcomes.
  • Finally, if you’re having a bad day and are in need of a mindset reset, turn off your phone, email, and all your notifications. According to Susan, multitasking is dumb. It is not productive. When we constantly shift our attentions from one thing to another, we are never fully focused on anything. This prevents us from doing our very best at any task in front of us. Instead, create an atmosphere that will lead to success!

You can learn more from Susan at SusanFinch.com.

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