How to Turn-It On When You Really Need It

Turn it on ritual

How do you get your work day started? Do you use the same habitual, monotonous, tedious routine? Or, do you get it started in a way that gets you focused, energized, and puts a huge dose of momentum into your work day?

This difference showed up for me in an unusual place…dropping my daughter off at school.  I noticed on the days that I dropped her off I was much more productive when I got to the office (even though it took extra time). Then on the days my wife or someone else took her to school, things just didn’t seem quite right. I felt a little more unfocused, and it showed in my work.

So taking her to school, whether by car or bike, became my “turn-it on” ritual for the day.

This got me thinking about how you can easily create your own turn-it on ritual to start your day with more meaning, momentum, and confidence.

So here’s how to turn your old routine into a powerful ritual that will help you turn it on when you really need it…

The 3 P’s of a GREAT Turn-It On Ritual

Every great turn-it on ritual has a bit of purpose, planning, and preparation.

  1. Purpose – Consider how your turn-it on ritual will help you start “on purpose”.  This gives meaning and keeps you from just going through the motions.  In my simple example, just the ritual of something I’m doing for my daughter adds a higher purpose to my morning.  What’s one thing you do that adds or clarifies the purpose in your day?
  2. Planning  – So after you’ve got some purpose in your ritual, it’s time to build in some simple planning. This gives focus and momentum.  On our drive to school we do some gentle planning by answering “What are you looking forward to today”?  Or we talk about what she’ll be doing at school and what I’ll be doing at work.  A misnomer about planning is that it has to involve a spreadsheet.  Sometimes it’s more important to get in the habit of mentally planning for a successful day.  What’s one thing you do to add an element of planning to your day?
  3. Preparation – Planning generates awareness while preparation generates readiness and confidence.  (I learned this my first day as a Boy Scout…the motto “Be Prepared!”)    This one is easy to overlook; but it’s simply putting things in place, either mentally or physically before you need them.  Before we walk out the door for school, we run through the checklist of putting things in place whether it’s making lunch or making sure we’ve got the right clothes for karate.  What’s one thing you do to ensure you’re prepared for your work day?

The three P’s above are in the context of what you can do in the morning heading to work; but you can also apply them to turn-it on before your next staff meeting, presentation, sales call, PTA meeting, etc…

3 Steps to Create Your Powerful Turn-It On Ritual

Here are 3 simple steps to create a ritual to help you get even more motivated, focused, and on fire!

Step 1- Transform Your Current Routine to Ritual

Identify an important routine you ALREADY have, and convert it into a ritual.  You’ll tinker with it a bit and add a little more intention.  A routine is something that’s helpful to you, but you might normally go through the motions on. When you convert it to ritual, it becomes something with meaning behind it.

Once you do this one thing each morning or evening if you have a night schedule, you’ll transition into “go get’em” mode.

You might even have a ritual already established but haven’t considered the power of it.  For many it’s making coffee.  For a shot of caffeine it’d be easier and more efficient to take a 5-hour energy pill — but there’s something about coffee that makes waking up a little better for me.

I take my daughter to school. It takes more time and my wife or someone else could do it, but it makes my transition a little easier.

Some other ideas of routines that you can convert to ritual:

  • dropping off your child
  • working out
  • closing your car door
  • walking over your office threshold
  • starting the coffee maker
  • stretching
  • shaving or putting on make-up
  • getting out of bed and putting your slippers on
  • logging-in to your computer
  • putting your glasses on
  • finishing the first or last page of the newspaper
  • brushing your teeth or hair

If you get stuck on selecting your routine to transform to ritual, consider these everyday differences:

  • Are you replying to email vs communicating to your team?
  • Are you focused on completion vs focused on performance?
  • Are you externally motivated vs internally motivated?
  • Does it seem meaningless vs meaningful

Step 2 – Write Down Your First Three Turn-it On Steps

What will be the first three steps of your turn-it on ritual? For me, after I drop off my daughter at school, I immediately take a deep breath, turn the radio onto a station playing a song with pulse or a driving beat (I’m currently enjoying The Pulse XM), and think through what is the first project I’m going to tackle when I walk into my office.

When I’m on the road, my first step usually involves hitting the gym then taking a shower.  Then I review my calendar and priorities over breakfast as well as take a few notes.

What about you?  Here are some questions to consider when working through your first three steps:

  • Who will you speak to first?  Your child, your neighbor, a specific coworker, or the doorman?
  • How will you move?  Exercise, stretching, taking a walk?
  • Is it something you eat or drink?  Downing your first glass of water, tea, or coffee?

Step 3 – Notice and Revise as Necessary

Notice how your day goes after your first turn-it on ritual.  Are you more focused?  What modifications can you make so it’s more helpful?  How’s your energy level when you…

  • walk through the threshold of your office door and review your to-do list
  • review your calendar for the day
  • walk into your first meeting of the day

Try Your Own Turn-It On Ritual

Right now, select a morning routine.  Jot that down on a post-it note and give it a bit more intentional preparation, planning, and purpose. Notice the difference!

Turn turning-it on!


P.S In the comments below, share the routine you’ll transform into a turn-it on ritual.

P.P.S Get ready because next week you’ll discover the turn-it off ritual.

Photo credit: Melanie Baseden