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As we move into 2021 and round out nearly a year of pandemic-related disruption, it can be difficult to see the positive in every day. However, it’s possible to make your life a little more manageable and a whole lot brighter. Follow these tips to transform yourself and your surroundings through discipline and intention.

1. Master your morning routine

Do you wake up groggy and sleepwalk your way through the morning? You don’t have to be an early bird to put together a morning routine that helps you start the day happier, healthier and more energetic.

If you set the alarm clock for five minutes before you have to hit the shower, you’ll create brighter mornings by giving yourself extra time to wake up. Set the alarm for at least 30 minutes before you have to do anything at all, giving your body and brain the time to wake up gradually and feel a sense of leisure throughout the morning.

If possible, step outside for a few minutes and greet the day. Get a little sun on your skin (or brace for invigorating cold air, depending on your climate), and reconnect with nature and its rhythms. Come back in, and make the bed to score your first accomplishment of the day.

Finally, give yourself a little treat to get your day started on a positive note. Maybe it’s a few minutes of quiet meditation in your otherwise hectic schedule. Maybe it’s a cup of coffee from your favorite shop on the way to your first appointment. Perhaps it’s a few minutes at the breakfast table with your family before starting the day. Motivate yourself by caring for yourself in some way each day — big or small.

2. Take control of your time

Many of us feel stressed and overwhelmed because our calendars control us instead of the other way around. If you have not yet implemented a system for time-blocking or otherwise managing your time, that needs to become priority 1.

Many agents and brokers love to brag about how overworked they are and how they are “on” 24/7. In reality, this is more about their need to feel indispensable and in-demand than their importance. People who are genuinely in-demand and important guard their time carefully to ensure that they are properly prioritizing the things that matter most.

Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work (Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World), estimates that a 40-hour time-blocked workweek can be as productive as a 60-plus-hour workweek that lacks structure.

A time management method agents often rely on to get it all done, time-blocking allows you to create specific times throughout the day to accomplish a particular task or tasks — and only those tasks. (Looking at you, lead generation.)

“Instead of keeping an open-ended to-do list of things you’ll get to as you’re able, you’ll start each day with a concrete schedule that lays out what you’ll work on and when,” writes Laura Scroggs for todoist.

You can take control of your time by deciding what core activities are most important to you both personally and professionally, then making those sacred in your calendar. Schedule the things that matter most first, and then build everything else around them — whether it’s family dinners or staff meetings — so that you never miss out on the essentials.

3. Create leverage in your home and business

Think about something that you hate to do. Something that you dread, put off or grouse about repeatedly. Now, imagine you never have to do it again. Feel free? That’s the power of adding leverage. 

Maybe you need to bring in an administrative assistant or employ a virtual assistant once a week. Perhaps you need to outsource some aspect of your operation, like writing property descriptions or bookkeeping. Start with the thing that you feel least equipped to do, and add leverage to free up your time for the things you are good at and enjoy. 

Now, apply the same practice to your home. What is the time-suck there — grocery shopping? Housecleaning? Yard work? Your time at home matters. It allows you to renew yourself and reconnect with family and friends. Implement leverage in your home so that you have more time for the things that are important to you.

4. Optimize your energy expenditure

Have you ever noticed how upset people get on social media? How angry and overwrought? I’m going to tell you a little secret — Twitter is optional. You don’t have to spend your time or energy being angry at people who disagree with you.

Think about how you are spending your energy each day. Do you ever find yourself yelling at the TV news or raging while you sit in traffic? That negative energy can carry through to your whole day. 

Sometimes the day-to-day frustrations can build up, and we can actually feel their effect on our bodies. Do you ever get so ramped up that you can feel your blood pressure rising or your face getting hot? How often does that happen due to something that is entirely in your control?

We can’t do away with all of life’s frustrations, but we can do away with many of them. If you are spending energy and time on things that don’t enhance your life and don’t matter, it’s time to rethink.  

Delete that app. Stop listening to that station. Stop engaging with that annoying acquaintance. Actively remove toxicity from your life. When you get the choice, choose people, places, and things that add joy to your life instead of frustration.

5. Implement positive rituals

We all have our rituals. Maybe it’s that glass of wine in the evening. Maybe it’s doing the Sunday crossword puzzle. Maybe it’s saying “I love you” at the end of every phone conversation with your significant other.

Unfortunately, many of us also have harmful rituals and habits. Perhaps you start every day with a laundry list of worries and fears running through your mind as you get ready in the morning. Maybe you bring your work with you to bed, never allowing yourself any downtime and working away far into the night.

Take a look at your habits — daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly. Do you always find yourself in a dead heat trying to get your taxes filed right before the deadline? Maybe hiring a CPA would bring you peace of mind and help you transform that frustrating yearly ritual. 

At the same time, add mindfulness to the things you already enjoy regularly. If you look forward to the Sunday crossword puzzle, make it a little more special by adding a cup of tea, your coziest slippers and your favorite playlist running in the background. Stop and acknowledge the moment, adding gratitude and awareness to the moments you enjoy most.

Troy Palmquist is the founder and broker of The Address in Southern California. Follow him on Facebook, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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