Here are the five things to do to ensure you have a great start to your next day: Reflect, prioritize, prepare, relax, and rest!
1. Reflect: Think about today.
2. Prioritize: Now think about tomorrow.
What three things do you most want to accomplish in your work and in your life?
Don’t just think about three things that are the easiest to check off the list, such as answering a few emails and making a couple of phone calls. While these might be important, are they a priority for YOU to move forward in your work and in your life? If not, they shouldn’t be a priority. Rather these are just somethings you can accomplish ONCE you’ve taken care of your top three priorities of the day.
In a Franklin Covey time management workshop, I remember the jar analogy. It was filled with big rocks and sand that filled in all the cracks. Then all the contents were dumped out and the sand was poured in first. The sand represents the non-essentials, the non-important parts of our lives that we still may need to do. The big rocks didn’t fit after all the sand was in the jar. Instead, when you put the big rocks in first, the sand poured around the rocks and everything fit in the jar. Think of taking care of the big rocks first and don’t get bogged down by tiny grains of sand.
Focus on what gives you the most fulfillment in your work and in your life and work towards those goals. Once you’ve achieved your top three action items of the day, then you can take care of those smaller grains of sand.
3. Prepare: Be ready for tomorrow.
I like to prepare everything for the next day the night before. This includes choosing my work outfit, preparing snacks and meals, and prepping my work bag. I make sure everything is ready to go so all I need to do is wake up, take a shower, change, eat breakfast, and head out the door.
This extra bit of time in the morning takes the stress off and provides for a more relaxing and calm morning. I eliminate rushing at home, on the road, and at work. This also improves my mood, which in turn, impacts others around me.
4. Relax: Unwind tonight.
An hour before bed, start winding down your ‘work’ brain. In fact, if you can, try to ween yourself off work as early as you can. But if you must work, spend the hour before you go to sleep relaxing. Take a bath, shower, read a book, relax with friends and/or family, but shut down your ‘work’ brain. Turn your computer off, get it charged, and try to avoid phone browsing and web surfing. Too much screen time before bed makes it much harder to fall asleep!
5. Rest: Now shut it down.
Get enough sleep. Ensure you’re in bed a good eight hours before you need to wake up.
I usually aim for at least nine hours of sleep but if I get in bed later, I know I’ll have at least eight hours of sleep. Plan to get in bed at a time where you can allow your body and mind to reset and recharge for at least eight hours. Sleep deprivation is a serious problem.
Remember to reflect, prioritize, prepare, relax, and rest to ensure a great start to the next day!
It is critical to change our own mindset to improve our relationships with others. Stop trying to control others. Instead, focus on your own thoughts, actions, and words.
Here are three secrets to dramatically improve your relationship with others:
1. Initiate with love
Be proactive and stop being reactive. Instead of responding to what happens to you, initiate with love through kind actions or words. If in the past you've had a difficult encounter with someone else, you should be the one to approach them with genuine care and love. When a loved one comes home, greet them at the door with a big smile, hug, and a kiss. When you see a co-worker, comment on their positive attributes and characteristics that you truly admire. Perhaps write a thoughtful note expressing gratitude for the work that they do or the importance they might hold in your life. Perhaps do a favor for someone else. If people remember you as someone who offers them love and kindness, they will view you in a more positive light and will be more likely to respond in kind. But make sure you do this without expecting anything in return. It might take some time before love comes back to you. Don't rely on others to make you happy. Focus on gratitude in your own life and just offer love from a strong sense of self.
2. Listen with an open mind and heart
When someone is stressed, angry, sad, or feels the need to complain or vent, don't try to offer advice or say anything that begins with the words: "well at least..." and then complete the sentence with something like "Well at least you're alive" or "Well at least you're not alone." This isn't really listening to someone else.
Make sure you listen to truly hear someone rather than listen in order to respond. Try not to say anything while listening. Just give physical cues that you're listening. If you must speak, just go: "Hmmm" with a considerate head nod. Even if there's a pause in the share, just wait and provide space for that person to continue. More often than not, that person will continue to empty their cup, so to speak. People might want to share a lot, whether it's positive or negative. Do this in your personal relationships and in your work relationships. Don't look at your phone or your computer. Don't be distracted by others around you. This will pull you away from listening and the other person will feel insignificant. Instead, really listen. If they ask you for advice or your thoughts, then you may provide them. But if they don't ask for advice or your response, DON'T GIVE IT!
3. Respond with empathy
When we feel seen and heard, we feel understood and loved.
If someone acted in a way that may be frustrating, respond with grace, love, and kindness. For instance, is someone spilled something, rather than get mad, imagine what it might be like to spill something. It's most likely not intentional and it probably feels embarrassing. Instead of punishment, offer help!
When my students act out of the ordinary, I usually ask them if they're okay. I assume the best intention from each person. I don't punish. I don't get mad. I don't yell. Why would I want to make their day worse? Instead, I just offer love. Imagine yourself in their shoes and think about what you would want to hear in response to your own words and actions.
Remember to initiative with love, listen with an open heart and mind, and respond with empathy and I guarantee your relationships will improve.
I urge teachers, administrators, parents, and loved ones to provide positive feedback and catch others doing great things, rather than point out other people’s weaknesses. While there is a time and a place to receive constructive criticism, more often than not, I find that people are more receptive to positive genuine and specific feedback than to any form of criticism.
When classroom management plans are created, consequences are naturally a part of the conversation. What will happen if a rule is broken? What if a behavior contract fails, what’s the next step? While it’s valuable to think about what might happen if someone doesn’t follow expectations, I think it’s more important to recognize those who do meet and go beyond expectations.
As this was our first week back at school, I noticed a few students, who in the past struggled with meeting expectations, being incredibly focused, kind, and attentive. I had to recognize and applaud their behavior. I wanted those students to know that I noticed their efforts. I wanted their parents to know that their children are highly capable of being rock stars in the classroom. And so, I decided to email families and let them know how impressed I was with those particular students. The response I received was wonderful. The parents were happy to hear great news. One parent in particular wrote me: “This is the best email I've read in a long time!”
It’s also important to express positive feedback to the person directly. When I told one of my students how impressed I was with his focus, his willingness to help others, and his positive contributions, he responded with a giant smile. He could tell I meant every word and he was happy to receive my genuine compliment. I already know our connection has become stronger because of that moment and I look forward to my next class with that student.
I have decided to reach out to students and parents on a regular basis and express the great work I’m seeing in my classroom.
When providing positive feedback, I encourage you to remember three things:
1. Be genuine. The feedback you’re sharing needs to be true and from the heart. You truly need to feel proud of what you’re noticing.
2. Be specific. Make sure to share what exactly went well. What particular behaviors stood out to you as being exceptional? What success did that student experience in class?
3. Be immediate. When giving positive feedback, make sure to reach out the same day, if possible. If too much time has passed, you’ve lost your opportunity for the positive feedback to really hit home.