After two years of living through a global pandemic, many of us are redesigning our daily lives to maximise our mental and physical well being. If you’re looking for inspiration you’re in luck, we have researched the daily habits of six amazing women who share their practical tips below on planning their day.
Shonda Rhimes: Rise early
Shonda Rhimes, the multi talented writer and producer of hit shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, wakes at 5:30am. Shonda shared her secret to finding time to herself in her busy schedule in her book; Year of Yes, how to dance it out, stand in the sun and be your own person. (Check out Shonda Rhimes inspiring TED talk) She outlines how she wakes early each morning to give herself an hour and a half before her kids get up and the day begins.
Shonda told InStyle magazine: “It’s important to have a little time to just exist before anyone else is awake. Sometimes I use this time to write in my journal, but sometimes I just sit and stare out the window.”
Why it works: making time for some solitude at the beginning of the day can lead to increased creativity as you give your brain a chance to wander. Getting comfortable spending some time alone can also lead to greater self awareness as you have time to notice your feelings and physical sensations. This leads to better insights into what you really want from life.
Carolyn Creswell: Exercise with friends
Australian entrepreneur Carolyn Creswell, founder of Carmen’s Fine Foods, meets up with friends for a 6:30am walk most mornings. Like many women, fitting an early morning walk in before school drop off ensures
Carolyn can start her working day feeling energised. However the added benefit of exercising with friends means she can combine her one hour of physical activity with social connection, saving time and increasing her wellbeing.
Why it works: combining morning exercise with catching up with friends provides benefits for both your physical and your mental health. Studies show that exposure to morning light improves our quality of sleep and regular cardio exercise is one of the best things we can do to increase our lifespan.
Adding a supportive social connection means that we can use this time to talk about our lives and share our problems. In doing so we feel less alone and more able to deal with stress.
Turia Pitt: Focus your mind
Turia Pitt, ultra marathon runner and burns survivor, knows more than most the importance of mindset when tackling challenging tasks in order to achieve growth. In her book Happy, and other ridiculous aspirations, Turia outlines the three questions she asks herself every morning to make sure she starts the day focused.
Turia starts by asking herself ‘What am I grateful for?’ Be specific here, instead of just saying ‘my children’ think of something like ‘I’m grateful for the way my eldest child played so gently with the baby this morning’. She emphasises the importance of taking a moment to really feel the gratitude.
Next, Turia asks herself ‘What am i looking forward to today?’ It might be something simple like a coffee from your local cafe or a catch up with a friend after work. Finally, she asks the question ‘What would make today great?’ It might be finishing a project your’ve been working on, watching that last episode of Just Like That or spending time in the garden.
Note, this is different from ‘What do I have to get done today’. Asking yourself what would make your day great changes the focus from what you need to do for others to what you need for your own sense of accomplishment.
Why it works: practising gratitude and savouring the moment has long been found to increase our overall happiness. Alongside this, having something to look forward to increases our positive emotions throughout the day. Simply anticipating positive future events has been shown to increase our feelings of happiness and decrease our levels of stress.
Janine Ellis: Manage your time
Janine Ellis, successful entrepreneur and founder of Boost Juice, knows the importance of being in control of your own time. Janine recently wrote about how she uses her diary to manage her time. She leaves time between meetings not just for travel and to review her schedule, but also for ‘thinking’ time.
Making space in your diary for down time in essential for planning and collecting your thoughts. Without this time “you will find that you can spend your days just responding instead of moving forward”.
Why it works: rushing from one meeting or task to another can lead to mental overwhelm. By slowing down and consciously working though your thoughts and ideas you will give your brain a chance to process ideas and consolidate your learnings before moving on.
Amanda Hesser: Be prepared
Amanda Hesser, the CEO of Food 52 and an acclaimed cookbook author, swears by planning her day the night before. For Amanda, this begins when she lays out her outfit (including jewellery) for the next day. She even packs her bag before bed, just like she did in school! Amanda’s prep for the day ahead extends to cleaning the kitchen and having everything ready for the breakfast rush the next morning.
Why it works: Preparing outfits the night before can help minimise ‘decision fatigue’ according to Dojo who recently analysed the daily routines for 26 successful women from around the globe. Anna Wintour famously wears similar outfits each day to lessen the number of choices she has to consider in her busy schedule.
But it’s not just clothing choices that can be pre planned, the team at Dojo concluded; “preparedness across the board can help reduce the time it takes to make impromptu decisions for minor things”. Your brain is then free to tackle complex decisions that move you towards achieving your goals.
Ariana Huffington: Go screen free at night
Ariana Huffington the world renowned journalist, author and founder of The Huffington Post, once collapsed from exhaustion at her desk. This lead Ariana on a journey to improve her health and in particular her sleep. In her book The Sleep Revolution, Ariana examined the negative effects of evening screen time on our ability to fall sleep as well as the quality of our sleep.
By bringing our phone into our bedroom we bring in our work stress, to do lists and the stimulation of social media. All of this makes it much harder to unwind and mentally ‘switch off’ from the day. Her evening routine now includes putting away all devices at least an hour before bedtime, having a bath or reading a physical book and charging her devices outside the bedroom.
Why it works: Blue light emitted from phones, ipads and other devices with screens suppresses our bodies ability to release melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel sleepy. Avoiding exposure to blue light for an hour before bed helps our bodies naturally prepare for sleep. By swapping social media scrolling for a warm bath or gentle stretching we also give our minds a chance to relax and destress.