One of the best pieces of advice that a coach ever gave me was "Never begin your day before it's finished on paper." Over the years, this has served me extremely well. Whenever my day is not flowing smoothly, or I'm generally unproductive or "feeling a little lost" chances are it is due to poor preparation. This is equally common with the hundreds of clients I've worked with. But I've also discovered that preparing for stellar days goes way beyond the to-do list. There are also mental and physical components. A few small, minor modifications can yield outstanding results. Here are some of my favs.

1. The List
I know, I know. I just said that the to-do list wasn’t the be-all-to-end-all, but it is important. Again, "Don't begin your day until it's finished on paper." Take 5 or 10 minutes the night before and write down what you need to do the next day. Make sure that the 3 to 5 most important or "must do" items are at the top of the list. Draw a horizontal line dividing the page, and everything else that would be nice to get done falls below that line. When you get up in the morning concentrate on the most important items first! It is also really important to do this list the night before. This gives your brain the chance to mentally prep for the day ahead. You're also far less likely to lie awake in bed at night going over what you have to do the next day – it's already done!

2. Prep the Morning Ritual
Do you routinely skip breakfast because there's not enough time? Are you rushing to get the kids ready? Or make lunch(s)? Do this kind of prep the night before! If you drink coffee in the morning, (and I whole heartedly suggest that you switch to non-caffeinated herbal tea!) make sure that the coffee maker is set-up and ready to go at the touch of a button. Lay out placemats, dishes and cutlery for breakfast, and do whatever food prep you can. (even putting cereal in the bowls) This is a wonderful way to begin the day feeling nourished, cared for and ready to take on the world.

3. Where's the Wardrobe?
How many times have you been getting dressed in the morning only to discover that the shirt you were going to wear is at the drycleaners? You can't find the necklace that perfectly accessorizes your outfit? Or, ladies – no pantyhose to be found anywhere! Spend a few minutes the night before and gather your clothes for the morning. Actually take them out of the closet, make sure everything is there, clean, functional and in "good working order." This can save you a lot of stress and last minute panic if something just doesn't go right!

4. Set Two Alarms
Yup! You read it right! This little trick has afforded me many a good night's sleep! Have you ever "slept through the alarm", just not set the clock right, or had a mid night power outage wreak havoc with the clock radio? What about waking up every 30 minutes paranoid that you're going to miss your flight or sleep through a big meeting? If you need an alarm to get up in the morning, (many don't, and many do), why not set two? Set them about 10 minutes apart so you're not startled with them both going off at the same time. Use one that is tied into the electrical power, and another, such as a cell phone or good old fashioned alarm clock that is not. The chances of both alarms failing are pretty slim and you can get a good night's sleep knowing that you'll be up on time – no matter what!

5. Relaaaaaax
Do you read murder mysteries in bed at night? What TV? Surf the internet? Your brain needs time to wind down, and to produce enough serotonin to ensure that you sleep soundly through the night. This is only possible if you stop the input of stimulus and reduce the amount of light be processed through the retina. So allow yourself at least 30 minutes to wind down. Turn off the tube, slip out cyberspace and put down the books. This is a great time to do the prep that I mentioned above. Done repeatedly, this will act as a signal to your brain that we're coming up on time to sleep and allow it to make the necessary shifts – mentally and chemically for this part of your day.

6. Put if Away
Last but not least, take a few minutes and do a quick tidy up! Put away any small items lying around, load up the dishwasher, straighten your desk (if you work from home) and create a sense of order and peace. It's wonderful to go to bed knowing that this is done, and absolutely lovely to wake up to!

So my challenge to you is to create great days beginning with good nights!

Until next time, take good care of you and your life!

Author's Bio: 

Hunter Phoenix is a Certified Professional Coach who loves what she does! Hunter specializes in working with dynamic individuals to create more balance, fun and joy in their lives. With over 15 years experience, Hunter received the majority of her coaching training at The Ford Institute for Integrative Coaching at JFK University in Berkeley, California.

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