Designing Your Day – 30X3


Leadership is a contact sport. Every day will bring its share of team conflicts, urgent challenges, unexpected changes and difficult decisions. With all the demands placed on organizations and leaders we can easily find ourselves “LOST”.

L – low on energy

O – overly stressed

S – short on patience

T – temperamental with others

The cost of these “lost” days is significant. Often we will spend countless hours recovering from the choices made and actions taken while in this condition. For many of us, the best method to avoid becoming lost is to manage our body, spirit and mind effectively so that we have sufficient internal resources to meet the coming demands.

Articles on this topic abound like “10 Successful Morning Habits of Billionaires” and “14 Ways Super Successful People Start Their Day”. I’m not a billionaire, nor super successful, at least by mainstream media standards. I do however have a simple ritual that has helped me tremendously over the years. I would like to share it here with the hope it may be useful to someone who is still trying to figure out a morning routine that is simple and meaningful enough to form a daily habit.

I call it 30-30-30 or by its shorter name, 30X3.

Here’s the formula:

  • 30 minutes of inspiration –  You might choose prayer, meditation, visualization, gratitude, reading, listening or some combination thereof. Whatever inspires and reminds you what is most important in your life and helps you focus on your personal or professional goals.
  • 30 minutes of exercise – Get your heart rate up in whatever form suits you best. A short walk, some stretching or a full-out “cardio blast” on the elliptical machine. The key is to get your body moving.
  • 30 minutes of planning – Review your schedule for the day, including non-work related activities. Take note of upcoming meetings or events and things you need to follow-up or get done. Focus on the important tasks and set your priorities for the day. Make adjustments to your schedule if needed. It might help to write down the “critical few” activities and place them somewhere so they are in front of you throughout the day.

That’s it. 90 minutes that lay the foundation for the next 8, 10, 12, hours or whatever makes up your typical work day. You can change the order, change the activity, or change the method, but you commit to spending time on these three activities every morning, (or whenever your day starts). I recommend you do this at least 5 days a week. I find that I can do just about anything for 30 minutes. Even when I don’t “feel like it”. Some people opt for a shorter 20X3 version with 20 minutes spent in each area for a total of one hour. I’ve switched to 20X3 myself when I have less time available for one reason or another and it still works great.

And yes, you should probably allow enough time for a shower, breakfast, commute, etc. as needed when setting your alarm.

Bonus Tips:

  • Change it up. To keep it interesting, I change the order and content of my routine pretty often. Sometimes I start with exercise rather than reflection to help me wake up.
  • If you can find 20 minutes in the middle of the day consider taking a break to sit quietly and meditate, reflect or just rest. This will help you recharge.
  • Getting sufficient sleep is required for this routine to be of value. If you are running on empty from the start this routine may help but the benefit will be short-lived.
  • Eat food that serves your body and increases rather than reduces your energy. I generally focus on healthy, low-carb foods during the day as carbs cause too much fluctuation in my energy levels. Everyone is different. Try different eating patterns and find out what works for you.
  • Have a play day. I treat Saturdays as my “free” day. I try never to work on Saturday and focus on relaxing, resting and doing things I enjoy. I don’t even do the 30X3 routine. I find that having a day where I “give myself a complete work and self-improvement break provides a nice reward for staying disciplined throughout the week.

Whatever routine you choose you will benefit if you “begin with the end in mind” as Stephen Covey taught in his famous Seven Habits. Start your day with the right mental, physical, spiritual and emotional foundation and you will find it improves many areas of your life.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

Please share your thoughts or how you set your day up for success in the comments section below.

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