Pay yourself first AND last, each day!

Day & NightThe Smile Routine works best if you start and end your day following its Simple-6 Steps routinely, each day. The Smile Routine is not alone in emphasizing the importance of routine and “book ending” your day with important tasks. The Art of Manliness agrees that you should pay yourself first and last each day!

Darren Hardy, editor-in-chief of Success Magazine and author of The Compound Effect argues that a person’s morning and evening routines are the “bookends” of a successful life. Why is this?

Imagine a string with a series of beads on it. The beads represent your goals, relationships, and priorities. Tip the string this way or that way, and the beads easily slide off and onto the floor. But tie a knot on each end of the string, and the beads stay put. Those knots are your morning and evening routines. They keep the priorities of your life from falling apart and thus help you progress and become a better man.

Having an evening and morning routine:

Ensures the really important things get done.  While we generally can’t control what goes on in the middle of a day, we usually can control how we begin and end the day. Take advantage of this fact by incorporating your most important tasks, actions, and behaviors into your morning and evening routines. For example, I know many businessmen who refuse to check email first thing in the morning. Instead, their morning routine consists of waking up, getting dressed, and spending an hour working on their most important task of the day, even before they go into the office. This ensures they accomplish their task before the chaos and interruptions of the workday get in the way.

For me, if I don’t exercise first thing in the morning, I won’t exercise that day. I just don’t have time for it. So, daily exercise is part of my morning routine. Journal writing is another important thing for me. If I don’t have a specific time set aside for journaling, it doesn’t get done. Thus, journal writing is part of my evening routine.

Reduces decision fatigue.The New York Times recently highlighted psychologist Roy Baumeister’s work on decision fatigue. According to Baumeister, we all have a finite amount of willpower that we can expend during the day, mental energy that is depleted by every decision – big or small – we have to make. In our crazy, hectic, modern life, we’re inundated with choices. Should I check email or work on this memo? Do I surf Art of Manliness or The Economist? Should I lift weights or run today? Should I have Sonic or Arby’s for lunch? If I go to Sonic, should I get a coney or a burger? You get the idea.

By the end of the day, our willpower reserve is running on empty which results in us being irritable boors, making poor decisions, and taking the path of least resistance. When given a choice between going to the gym or playing video games, we’ll choose video games. Write 500 words for our important work memo or surf the web? Mindless surfing here we come!

While it’s possible to increase the amount of willpower we have at our disposal, Baumeister suggests an additional tactic in the fight against decision fatigue is to manage our mental energy more efficiently throughout the day. One way we can do this is by making positive behaviors or important tasks routine parts of our day. When something becomes routine, we no longer have to think about it – it’s set on autopilot. Instead of having to use willpower to decide whether or not you’ll work out that day, you simply work out because that’s part of your morning routine. The less you have to think about doing something, the more likely you’ll actually do it. That’s the power of routines.

Keeps you grounded. For me the biggest benefit of morning and evening routines is that they keep me grounded and sane. It doesn’t matter how crazy things get during the day, it’s comforting to know exactly what will happen at the day’s beginning and end. My routines give me a sense of control over my life and help me re-calibrate my psyche so I can be a more effective man.

From: Bookend Your Day: The Power of Morning and Evening Routines by Brett & Kate McKay, September 5, 2011

Thanks for sharing a smile!
Happy smiling,
D.L.

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