what would you do with a golden ticket?

productivity tips from the empowered entrepreneur

I don’t know about you, but Charlie and the Chocolate factory was one of my favourite books growing up. That moment in the sweet shop when Charlie, at his most desperate and low, peels back the wrapper and sees that little glimmer of a golden ticket and the promise of all that it entails, is pure magic.  

I’ve got a Golden Ticket Day today but rather than a trip to Wonka’s chocolate factory, it’s carte blanche to do whatever I want. Anything, and that freedom is like rocket fuel for my business.

The rules of a Golden Ticket Day are simple.

There are no rules. 

It’s an opportunity to do what you need most. 

My only suggestion is that it doesn’t involve direct client work. It’s a chance to create some space, step back and see the bigger picture. It’s an opportunity to redress the balance, refocus on what’s important and experience the inspiration and creativity that is possible when there are no limits imposed.

So how do you make the most of a Golden Ticket day with all that time stretching away in front of you and so much on your to do list?

It really depends on where you are at, both in yourself and in your business.

If you are running on empty, depleted, have little energy and are losing your will to live, then a golden ticket day to recharge and restore is definitely in order. Your vitality is what drives your business, if you don’t have any then you’ll be going nowhere fast, even if you are still powering through and being busy. The opportunity cost of not functioning with high vitality, inspiration and creativity doesn’t make long-term commercial sense. 

If you keep on over doing it and slogging through your to do list, it will catch up with you, and the long term effects on your business and your health just don’t add up favourably.

If that’s the space you’re in, a shift in environment can really help. Give your mind something else to focus on, choose somewhere uplifting, spacious and preferably close to nature for maximum benefit. Relieving some of the cognitive load of the simple things like preparing meals or worrying about logistics creates space so have someone else do that work and head out to eat.

Some people struggle when there’s no agenda and a Golden Ticket day doesn’t mean you can’t be productive, far from it. 

If, like me you decide to you want to make that day as productive and creative as possible, go for it!

When I have a finite amount of time and want to increase the likelihood of maximum output I approach it really simply.

I begin the night before and prime my brain for what I want. I do a quick brainstorm, scribble ideas and then write a short action list. Before I sleep I might ask my mind a question to ponder on overnight and see what comes the next morning. For me last night my question was ‘how can I add more value?’ With my notepad by my bed from the night before, it’s available for fresh first-thing thoughts.

First thing, I get outside into nature and do some vigorous exercise. Note no social media, no emails, no client work. I want to keep my head clear of anyone else’s agenda. Being in nature is especially stimulating for the brain and soothing for the body. The shapes are softer, easier on the eyes and there are numerous points of interest and colour, a richness of sounds and smells. Running in the forest or near trees also means the air quality is better which gives your brain more of the oxygen it needs to function well. 

Vigorous exercise is key for efficiency as it jump starts my brain and the process of neurogenesis - making more lovely brain cells and connections, and by the end of 20 minutes of vigorous exercise my brain is functioning around 20% faster than it was before. That’s a fair bit of time saved in my day already and I haven’t even started work yet. 

I eat a high protein breakfast. This sustains me for longer. Now, I’m not a nutritionist and everyone finds what works best for their unique body so you might want to play around a bit. For me, I’ve noticed that a veggie, two egg omelette gives me about five hours worth of energy compared to oats, which give me about two and a half hours, and it takes about the same amount of time to cook. It helps me avoid any sugar crash from too many carbs and makes it easier to maintain a stable mood. Thanks to Michael Ledzion for sharing his power breakfast tips and getting me hooked. 

I take a moment to focus and centre. My head is so clear from the exercise and I need to reorientate myself towards the work I want to do.  I begin with a few moments of mindful open awareness, just a few breaths, and then bring my focus and attention slightly more inwards and in the direction of what I want to achieve. I set my intention. I write down up to three things that I want to do, each one manageable in a short space of time, say twenty minutes. 

With my water jug topped up, my timer set, I begin. 

I’m vigilant against distraction. Here’s where the effort comes in and the real work of being productive starts. My brain is awake but it might take me a few moments to get into the groove and this is the point at which I need to be most vigilant. No phone, it goes out of sight. No social media, all tabs closed on the laptop. Aware of my internal dialogue and ready to rein in that wild horse, I ensure that it doesn’t takes me away from the task at hand. 

Then I’m off and into the flow of writing or creating, strategising or planning. Whatever my specific task. 

A good start usually means a successful day, as long as I’m mindful at transition points to stay focused. To take regular brain boosting breaks for hydration, good nutrition and movement and the enjoy the unfolding of my work.

Golden ticket days can a huge asset to your business. You don’t need them often, the fact that they are so rare is part of the magic. Here’s my tips to make the most of yours.

Set a clear intention, even if that’s to go where the wind takes you; purpose in your day feels good.

Get out of your usual routine so it feels different. Go somewhere out of the ordinary.

Try something new, do something unexpected, spontaneous. 

Smile, remind your body that it likes to be alive. 

Have fun and give yourself space, even if it’s a highly focused and productive day. Build in things that make it even more enjoyable than your average day and allow time to just be and think and process without distractions.

Let yourself off the hook. Everything will still be where you left it when you get back, this is a day of freedom and possibility and you never know what might come of it.