This one is starting to go viral.

Thousands of people are following a morning routine called "The Seven," which I invented to help you gain focus and plan your day. Each day, I receive a few dozen emails, tweets, Facebook comments, and even phone calls from people who have carved out just seven minutes in the morning to focus before they start their work day.

The morning routine, which is a way to get clear your head and jot down some notes, is not rocket science. In fact, it's a simple and easy process. But that's by design. I don't have any advanced degrees in the science behind why journaling and breathing intentionally help cope with stress and chaos. All I know is that it works for me -- I have to collect my thoughts this way or the trains of my thinking run off the tracks.

A majority of the people who contact me understand what they need to do. A few have asked how to get started and make it a habit, which requires a behavior change and some planning. (A follow-up provides a few tips in that regard.) However, a handful of people have asked why it's important and how they can make the most of the routine. And they want a few more tips to make it a viable exercise that lives up to the promise of changing how you work.

OK, here goes. 

We need some peace and quiet.

The reason "The Seven" resonates (and why about 10,000 people have shared the article on social media so far) is that we are all living in the middle of a tech revolution. Sure, journaling has been around forever, and breathing exercises are a well-known technique to deal with stress. Yet, it's critical to get a few minutes before you work to sit quietly and get some peace. It's just not optional anymore.

We need a few moments without complexity.

These days we are inundated with social media, text messages, sites that helps us do our jobs like Dropbox and Evernote, yet all of these tools also make our jobs more complex. By journaling for only a few minutes each morning, we can at least keep our focus on one simple activity before we fire up a laptop and a smartphone. We can "go rustic" and stay analog with just a pad and pen.

We need a record of the day.

It's important to be able to have a written record of our work life. Paging back through your morning notes helps you understand what is working and what isn't. It helps you review ideas, which plants them deeper into your memory. You can celebrate successes and even share thoughts with others. You can see what resonated the most. Most important, this review makes you a believer in your own plan.

We need to visualize.

A final reason to do "The Seven" has to do with visualizing our work. The transfer from thought to paper is incredibly important. It solidifies the thinking and helps us see a plan for the day. This transfer has an interesting impact. We make a decision to stick with the program. We can go back and see -- yep, I made this note and I will follow through on it. Somehow, in the transfer, we make the plans more concrete.

Now, what is holding you back from following the routine?

Published on: May 28, 2015