Talk to any executive and they'll tell you the same thing in between sips of their morning Joe: “The morning is the most productive time.” They’re right - countless studies don’t just say the early bird gets the worm, but it’s a prized-time for focusing, having alone time and breezing through your to-do list in lighting speed.
“Being a morning person means enjoying more time. Regardless of how you may choose to use that extra time, it is an opportunity for enhanced productivity, efficiency and work-life balance." life coach Emeline Roissetter explains. "When snoozers tend to rush out the door increasing their stress level, not giving any thought to their appearance or their personal well-being, early risers tend to look sharper, well put together and more relaxed about the challenges ahead. Waking up early gives you an opportunity to be and feel more prepared for your working day which will decrease your stress level which in turn will help you think more clearly and therefore improve your problem-solving and decision making skills.”
But if you’re the type of person who has never been naturally blessed with the ability to rise sans alarm or not push snooze (hey, we’re all guilty sometimes) - then the thought of working in the early A.M. probably seems daunting. No worries though: these life coaches share their best solutions that help make anyone - and yep, they mean anyone- a morning person.
Here’s how to get started just in time for 2017:
Commit to 21 days.
Science says it takes three weeks to form a new habit - for better or for worse - so when you decide to become a new morning person, make sure you set aside the time to truly give it a chance. That means even if you drink a little too much at a happy hour, you’re still getting up the next day, so remember your choice when you say ‘yes’ to another half-priced marg. This means you will decide on what your trigger is to remind you of your goal and then actually following through, just like you would when anyone gives you a deadline. “A trigger is a sign you send to your brain that creates a behavior. For example when you see a stop sign, your brain understands that the right behavior is to stop…. You don’t need to think about it, your subconscious takes over and it just happens. Triggers are created by developing a new routine and constant repetition,” Roissetter says. “Experts say that it takes a minimum of 21 days for a new habit to be created, so if you wish to truly give it a go, commit to a minimum of 3 weeks. You don’t need to make drastic changes all at once, you can simply ease into it one baby step at a time.”
Eat protein ASAP.
You know that post (and pre) workout, having a hearty amount of protein will keep you feel full and satisfied, but as life coach John Moore says, this part of our diet is a must-have for morning performance. The catch though? Don’t just gobble up a hard boiled egg when you rub your eyes to a new day, but do it at night, too. “Eat a small amount of protein right before bedtime. This will keep cortisol levels in check and help with a good night's sleep,” he explains. “Then, the recipe for a good morning is to have protein first thing (30 grams within 30 minutes of waking up) This revs up the metabolism and gets you moving.”
Book something that makes you accountable.
It could be an 8 a.m. meeting with your investors or a 7:30 a.m. Pilates class that’ll charge you if you’re a no-show. Whatever will motivate you to be on time and make a commitment to early rise, life and success coach, Valerie Langley says to book it now. “I go to a 5:30 a.m. exercise class that I sign up for in advance which helps me to get up. I have the accountability of the trainer I work with is expecting me, so it motivates me to get out of bed and show up. You can also have an accountability partner someone at work or just a friend who also wants to be an early riser,” she explains. “Every day you can check on each others progress and encourage and celebrate each of your successes. Also having someone to lift you up and help you to get back on the wagon if you fall off will help.”
Find a reason to wake-up that means something to you.
You know how to make business goals, respond to employees of all different management styles and still remember to reply to your best friend’s text message, so why wouldn’t you be able to get up a bit earlier? The reason you’re able to commit to these other parts of your life is because they hold meaning to you. That’s why making your morning significant and person is key. “Focus on the reason you wanted to get up early in the first place. Was it to work out or get in an hour of work uninterrupted, or just to have some quiet alone time to refuel and recharge to be able to give your absolute best to your family and work?,” Langley says. “Whatever the reason let that be your morning focus not how early you are actually getting up. Knowing you will be more productive at work and throughout the day is also a great thing to focus on.”
Do some jumping jacks when you wake up.
Most folks who follow the sun on it’s way up usually have the motivation of exercise to get them going. Your blood pumping, the sweat dripping and your heart racing is a sure-fire way to wake you up - and quickly. But if a workout class or logging an hour at the gym just isn’t your cup of energizing green tea, you can always do something at home that’s easier. Even if it’s just one movement! “Jumping jacks as the first exercise in the morning is like coffee to me (because I don't drink coffee). I'm super alert after 50 fast paced jumping jacks,” life coach, Arianan Curry says.
Don’t make it easy on yourself.
Another trick that Curry uses? Placing his alarm clock far, far away from him so that he can’t simply roll over and give in to his desire to sleep just five minutes more. “I have my alarm set up in the alcove of my bedroom, in front of a big window, with a yoga mat and weights already set up. I have 3 versions of a 15 minute intense workout taped near the big window. This means that I have to get up and walk about 12 feet to turn off the alarm but the ingenious part for me is that once I walk 20 paces or so and turn off the alarm and see the exercise mat and my exercise equipment waiting for me I'm not going back to bed and I’m up and eager, while being fully awakened by the sunshine coming through the window. Beats getting dressed and heading to the gym.”
Don’t make it just about work, but about joy.
While it’s true that not being interrupted by meetings, your children, phone calls or obsessively scrolling through reports (or ahem, Facebook) means you’ll get so much work completed, there’s another bonus of waking up early to keep in mind. Not only is it positive for your business, but for your sense of self, too. Roissetter says to make sure you pick something to do in the morning that brings you personal happiness. “You may want to use that time to paint your nails, have a bubble bath, express yourself through art, spend more time with your kids or share quality time with your partner,” she suggests. “Whatever it is, do something that truly makes you happy. It will help you set the tone for a good day and make your new early morning habit much more enjoyable. This is your time to focus on yourself.”
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.