As a coach to high-performing executives and leaders, I’ve learned they’re eager to master two of their most most valuable assets: time and personal energy.
Being intentional about both serves as a foundation from which they can step (or leap) into their full potential and support others to do the same. They make exceptional mentors and coaches to their teams, primarily because they’re intentional about their own time and energy management.
A mindful bookending practice helps leaders navigate important transitions during the work day. This practice begins first in the morning to step into a day of productivity, clarity and focus and the then again in the evening, to step away from work and into a time of connection and relaxation at home with loved ones.
Let’s talking about mornings. According to Ayurveda, mornings represent the spring season of the day, a time when everything comes alive with new, vital, fresh energy. Mindful leaders leverage the energy of the morning to prepare themselves for a day of productivity and creation. For a more detailed morning routine, check out this article.
Bookending to Begin the Workday
- First, set an intention for the day.
What energy would you like to guide you through your day? It could be a word or phrase: gratitude, joy, focus, expansion…. This becomes the default setting. Taking a break, connect with your intention, getting ready for a meeting or a speaking gig? Connect with your intention. This is a great way of harnessing your internal energy and using it to define your experience through the day.
- After setting an intention, review your three most important tasks for the day that align with your True North goals
- Then pick the most challenging one and tackle it first.
This is called the ‘Eat the frog first’ which means that once you’ve accomplished the most challenging, unpleasant, un-motivating task from your list, you are golden. You now have the energy and motivation to tackle anything.
Bookending to End the Workday
The reason end-of-day bookending is so important for purpose-driven leaders is that they have deep sense of ownership with their work. This can create an always-on attitude , making it challenging to disconnect and switch off from work at the end of the day. This in turn can trickle into our time outside of work: not being fully present with our loved ones or feeling drained and exhausted because our mental activity and chatter doesn’t ease.
This is a four-step process. At the end of your workday:
- Tidy your desk
This simple act, like making the bed in the morning, clears the slate for the day. Arriving back the next day to an uncluttered, clean desk is energizing and exciting
Acknowledge what you’ve accomplished towards your top 3 priorities for the week by writing your accomplishments down. Then take a few moments to be present and give thanks to yourself as you celebrate and acknowledge your big-small wins. Dancing is a great way to celebrate too.
Update your priority list in your calendar/journal and review your top 3 activities for the next day. Based on these three, pull out materials you’ll need for them now and leave them on your desk.
A few things happen when we begin bookending this way. First we’re able to complete our work day and switch off mental and emotionally from work-related responsibilities. Second, we now have crystal clarity about what needs to get done the next day. This is powerful because believe it or not, our unconscious mind, loves to conspire with our conscious mind to come up with fun and easy ways to solve problems and get things done. By listing your priorities for the next day, you’re allowing your unconscious mind to work on this as you sleep. And finally because you’ve already prepared your desk for the next day, you can hit the road running when you get to work in the morning.
Do you have a bookending ritual? How does it energize and support you?