Good morning.

You’ve awoken naturally, five minutes before your alarm clock. You kiss your spouse lightly so as not to wake them, and slide stealthily out from under the covers.

Quietly, you exit the bedroom, get cleaned up and settle into your personal space designated for your morning ritual. You might begin with meditation or move immediately into your Big Thinking and brainstorming session. But you do not check email. You’re not even tempted.

With a glass of cold, refreshing water by your side (and perhaps your favorite mug filled with hot coffee), you’re getting your day off to a great start. Your mind begins to light up with ideas. You open your Big Idea journal and record everything that jumps out at you without judging any of the seemingly wild ideas that come to mind. Your thoughts slowly grow from small to large, and your dreams and goals grow ever ambitious.

After about ten minutes you move on to a review of your daily to-do list. Remaining well ahead of schedule, you open up your daily motivational readings and study the priceless wisdom of your mentors that you have collected over the years.

Energized, you are now ready to tackle the most important project on your to-do list. You spend fifteen to fifty minutes making massive progress and setting the tone for your day.

You might be finishing a chapter for your book. It could be creating your information product. You might even use this time for your daily exercise session. Whatever that most important task to start your day, you tackle it with energy and enthusiasm. You’re in the zone. You feel the flow. It doesn’t get much better than this.

When you wrap up this bout of early morning progress, you feel a rush of relief, passion, energy, and satisfaction all combined into one. It’s hard to describe. Only other peak performers can relate. Only those that plan, prepare, and execute like yourself will ever know the victory that comes from this Early to Rise success strategy.

Empowered, you’ve started the day with a victory and it is time to move on to the next one. You might have a real job to get to, and so you shower, eat breakfast, and head out the door having already seized the day. Carpe Diem is your middle name.

But you’re not yet done owning the day. You arrive at work fifteen to thirty minutes early to take advantage of more magic time. There you get a head start on the competition before everyone else arrives. You follow the simple formula of taking action on your most important project before checking voicemail or email. This little extra effort on your part goes a long way, and doesn’t go unnoticed by the people upstairs.

Even when your colleagues arrive arrive with their emergencies and your schedule goes haywire, you keep your cool and always meet your deadlines. Thankfully, due to policies you’ve put in place and the communication strategies you’ve outlined in the past, the fires that you have to put out are minimal.

You remain on track. Your scheduled meetings are efficient and effective, without seeming curt. Your colleagues respect and admire your use of time. They know they can count on you to get the right things done with the least amount of drama.

You repeatedly return to your to-do list throughout the day, keeping an eye out to be working as much as possible on your priority objectives. No minute is wasted. You take reading material with you to meetings in case you are made to wait. You are always planning ahead and even your big idea journal is within arms reach all day in case you experience a bout of inspiration.

Meals and refreshments are planned and prepared to support your all-day energy. Your commitment to consuming only whole, natural foods and plenty of water – with only the necessary amounts of caffeine (limited to early in the day) – provide you with an abundance of natural energy. Your colleagues look up to you in wonder.

You learned early in your physical and mental transformation to always be prepared with two solutions for every nutrition obstacle. This means you’ve stocked your desk with bottles of water and nuts, like almonds, walnuts, and pecans, and dried fruit, like apricots and apples, in case of emergency. You might even have organic beef jerky in the drawer for added protein.

You also know what not to eat – no matter what. You avoid soda, juice, and high-calorie coffees. You limit your caffeine intake to before 2pm so that it does not interfere with your good night’s sleep. You stick to whole, natural foods, such as salmon or chicken with vegetables when dining out. You’ve eliminated the processed foods that used to put you to sleep after each big lunch meeting.

With your mornings dedicated to Big Thinking and priority projects, you schedule afternoons for in-person or phone meetings. This allows you to make maximum amounts of progress on your own projects all while keeping on top of important collaborations.

Your colleagues know the best way to contact you is through these afternoon connections, and so your email volume is minimized throughout the day. Your reputation throughout the office is legendary in that you are known to only check email after lunch – sometimes not even until 4pm. Your colleagues know that if they have something worth saying to you, it is best to get on your afternoon schedule. Otherwise, they don’t waste your time with trivial matters.

You’ve never felt more productive – not even back in the days before everyone had an email address (I remember those days…and how we still managed to make progress with just a simple telephone and face-to-face meetings).

Finally, having accomplished more in eight hours than most people accomplish in five days, you are ready to move on to family time.

Before you go, you create a detailed to-do list for the next day. You outline the exact steps that will help you get a fast start on the first project. There will be no procrastination. You’ll be able to arrive tomorrow – early – and perhaps even finish this project before everyone else officially starts for the day.

People are noticing. Your colleagues give you more respect. Management has identified a new up-and-coming star in the ranks. Team members are asking for your secrets, and as you teach them, you become even more proficient at what you do, and more committed to sticking to this plan. You share your methods graciously with others, and even take to mentoring the few that show the greatest interest and acceptance of your plan. You’ve created a social support group, and even a growing movement of excellence in your environment.

This is not fantasy. This is reality. This is your perfect workday, and it is repeated on a daily basis from Monday to Friday (or whatever your work schedule).

You’ve achieved balance and freedom through structure.

You finish your day in the office with a final brain dump of Big Ideas. You’ll let these percolate in your subconscious overnight, but for now, you empty your mind so that you can go home and give all your energy and attention to your loved ones. Satisfied with another productive day behind you, you head home to spend quality time with your family or engaged in your hobbies.

This is living. And this can be your life. It starts with planning and preparation. And it starts now.

So each morning listen to this audio as you start your day. Or better yet, create your own. Customize how you want your perfect day to go. Record it on your cell phone or computer and play it back every morning as you work to turn it into reality.

Here’s to wishing you a perfectly productive day!

Let us know your perfect day plan in the comments below.

 

Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men’s Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he’ll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com