I had a chat this morning with a friend about certain disciplines that help us focus. It's funny how a short time invested first thing in the morning can pay great dividends for the next eighteen hours. Here are a few things we discussed as well as one or two that I relate to but didn't necessarily come up in the conversation.
Get up a little earlier
I understand this is easier for some people than others...but even morning people crawl out of bed because of a measure of discipline. If you're too tired to have a serious quiet time, get your task-work done until the coffee does it's job and you can be a little more contemplative without falling asleep. I cannot remember a time where I wished I would have slept longer...but I have a lot of examples of times I wish I would have gotten up earlier.
Quit rolling your eyes. This is at the top of peoples' list for the same reason water is served in every resturant. It works. I was a horrible journaler until I found a journal and pen combo I like. I know it's pitiful that those two things kept me from doing this for years, but it did. Since I discovered Moleskine journals and Pilot G2's (black, please), I am a journalin' foo'.
I write random thoughts. Make my lists. Make plans. Almost every day I start with this though - I copy a brief portion of Scripture. There is something catalytic about copying scripture as opposed to just reading it. At it travels from eye to brain to fingers to pen to ink, it passes through my soul. I generally have much more inisght into practical application of a passage after I've written it down myself.
Make a To Do list
As bonehead obvious as this one is, most people don't do it, and the majority of those who do manage to use it as a tool to frustrate themselves rather than get things done. Randy's To Do Mantra: All To Do's Are Not Created Equal. In other words, if you have 3 things on your list (Prepare budgets, feed goldfish, extinguish kitchen fire), those three probably will not be done in order and possibly not even all today.
I use OmniOutliner to easily create collapsable sub-lists when something on the To Do list requires six or seven steps. If you have five things on your list and each one takes five steps...man, that's terrifying. Collapse the list of things you don't need to do right now.
Read a biography.
I am a huge proponent of biographies. Not just for entertainment, but as a tool in the study of human nature. Why do people do what they do? What decisions would I have made in those situations? As I mentioned earlier, I am reading John Quincy Adams : A Public Life, A Private Life. I am finding fascinating parallels between his outlook on life and my own. In comparing and contrasting, I'm learning as much about myself as JQA.
I'm far from operating at my maximum potential....and none of us will probably ever get there....but a little prep time sure helps the day go smoother.