When I worked in advertising (before staying home full-time with the kiddos), I interacted with many executives of big companies.
Some were unhealthy workaholics. But many of the most successful (and effective) were incredibly inspiring leaders. What I found most interesting about the ones who were most successful is that they seemed to follow the advice of this Forbes article that I shared with a former colleague recently, titled: 5 Things Super Successful People Do Before 8 AM.
Now, maybe they didn’t always do those things before 8 AM—but no matter what the time of day, the most effective, happy and successful leaders I worked with adopted the philosophies listed in the article to some extent.
I’m not in the business world anymore, but as a pregnant mama with 3 little ones at my feet, I carry a big load of responsibility with me that also requires an incredible amount of energy and organization. And as I read those 5 things, I couldn’t help but think that when I’m following those same principles, I am most successful as a wife and mom.
Here’s how the 5 things apply to my domestic life:
1. Exercise. In college, I was a big runner. But with 3 little ones at home and one in utero, I have found it hard to establish a successful workout routine. But then I decided, no more excuses. It may not be easy, but the kids often do it with me. Whether it’s dancing around the livingroom, going for a walk balancing 3 on the double stroller, doing an exercise video on my laptop, holding a toddler in my lap during prenatal pilates — or using my chunky 1-year-old as an arm weight, I try to get in a good 30 minutes of heart rate-rising, sweat-inducing, muscle toning exercise every day. The result? I feel better about myself, have more energy and my kids get to see that it’s important to make movement a priority.
2. Map out your day. It really does make a difference in the house to have some sort of plan for the day — even if it’s just laundry, bathroom cleaning and finishing up Christmas cards. I’m a bit of a free-spirit, but I have learned to appreciate the routine of regular nap times and “quiet times” if only so I can take a breath (or watch an episode of Barefoot Contessa). My husband and I share a Google calendar which makes a big difference when scheduling appointments and social events and I check it every morning to make sure I’m not dropping any balls.
3. Eat a healthy breakfast. And lunch. And snacks. It’s so easy to grab a bowl of goldfish and a handful of chocolate chips and call it a day when trying to feed kids and a husband and a cat and a dog, and oh, did the cat just throw up? When I can plan healthy meals and have healthy snacks on-hand, it makes a world of difference — and (shock!) my kids eat healthier, too.
4. Positive thinking. In the Forbes article, they actually call this one “Visualization.” And when you’re in the boardroom, I guess it’s good to imagine yourself slam dunking that presentation and running around the table giving high-fives. But when you’re in the playroom, the only visualization going on is trying to think happy thoughts while changing a blow out — and so, I’ve tweaked this one to mirror the words of Saint Padre Pio: “Pray, Hope & Don’t Worry.” It makes all the difference in the world when my mind is in a patient, positive place.
5. Don’t procrastinate. In the Forbes article, they describe this one as “do the least desirable task on your list first.” I take this as “go to the grocery store before you lose the motivation to haul three children in that car cart down each aisle.” But it could also apply to throwing in a load of laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, or even exercising, as early as possible before the day inevitably goes off-schedule. Seems like sound advice.
I would also add some bonus points of 6. Get enough sleep, 7. Make time for special time with your spouse (even if it’s 20 minutes of hot chocolate by the Christmas tree before bed) and 8. Simplify. But those are blog posts for another day.
And now, as CEO of my little company, I have an important business meeting to attend: a crafting date with my 4-year-old. I love this job.