It is no surprise that highly productive people very rarely waste their mornings. They are so disciplined in how they start their day because they know that if they have a great morning, they will almost always have a great day.
Many years ago, before I knew anything about how to set up my day for maximum productivity, I didn’t have a consistent way to start my day. I would do random things like iron my clothes before work, watch the morning news on television, or get up well after my alarm went off which caused me to rush to be on time for work. Needless to say, starting off my day that way did not put me in a right frame of mind, and it certainly affected my productivity and effectiveness.
Being an entrepreneur, having bad days is not something I can afford nor is it something I want to have. As a result, I have put systems in place that helps me start each day the way I want to plus it also helps me focus on the things I want to get done. Personally, I am much more productive in the mornings and have been able to set up these systems over a period of time.
Here are five things that will help you take control of your morning so that when you get to the end of your day, you can say to yourself that you’ve had a productive day and you’ve made progress toward the results you want.
- Plan your day the night before. This has to be one of the most important things you can do because when you have a plan for the next day, you can hit the ground running when you get up. The way I do it is, I journal every night where I capture the key lessons from my day and I start planning the next day.
The question I ask myself is, What one thing must I accomplish tomorrow? It doesn’t always have to something major. It can be things like making a phone call that can help move a project forward or asking someone for advice on a challenge I may be facing. Plus when you know what you’d like to get done the next day, you are giving your mind a chance to come up with new ideas while you’re asleep.
- Get into a routine as quickly as possible. Our habits control almost everything we do, so it makes a lot of sense to develop habits or rituals that will support us throughout the day. These include:
- Hydrating your body as soon as you get up.
- Doing something physical within the first hour like yoga, a brisk walk or jog, weight training, or stretches.
- Clearing your mind through deep breathing and meditation.
- Having some quiet time to reflect, visualize your day and be grateful for all the things that are going well for you.
- Having a healthy breakfast.
These simple things will put you in the right frame of mind to have a productive day.
- Work on your highest priority first. This is where it takes discipline to focus on what is important to you. It is very easy to get caught up in other people’s agenda when you check emails, messages or go on social media sites. Focus on your priorities first and get a win early in the day. That will generate momentum and spur you on for the rest of the day.
- Take regular breaks. This has been the biggest change I have made to how I work. Previously, I would work as long as I could and only have a break when it was necessary, like having lunch. I found working that way resulted in me being tired a lot quicker, which affected my productivity later in the day.
Now, I have created the habit where I will work uninterrupted for two blocks of 60 minutes. During those two 60 minutes, I may go to the bathroom or drink some water. But in general, I am working uninterrupted for two hours. I then have a 30-minute break where I will have something to eat, do some heavy breathing or even shut my eyes for a few minutes, just to give my brain a rest.
I repeat this pattern throughout the day which means that every two hours, I am renewing my energy levels and staying hydrated, which allows me to stay productive for longer period of time.
- Schedule interruptions. Most of our interruptions are not important and they can use up valuable time if we allow them to. Interruptions can be checking emails or messages, making phone calls or having meetings. The more intentional you can be with these interruptions, the less it will affect your productivity through the day. It makes a lot of sense to batch these interruptions at specific times during the day.
For example, you may decide that between 11.00am and 12.00pm, and between 4.00pm and 5.00pm, is when you’ll check emails, amke phone calls or respond to messages. Once that time block has passed, you get back to focusing on your priorities.
One thing I learned early in my professional career is that the first hour is typically the most important hour of the day. The ideas shared here are designed to help anyone who apply them, become more focused, productive and ultimately, get more things done.
Question: What is one idea that can also help anyone take control of their mornings?
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