Have you every had the experience where, a few hours into your day, you realise you haven’t actually done anything productive yet? Then you spend the rest of the day frantically trying to get things done to make up for the time you lost at the start of the day? Wouldn’t it be nice to start off each day in a calm and focused manner?
It actually is quite simple to start off your day on a good note and optimise your most important hour of the day. The most important hour of your day is the first hour after you wake up. Research has proven that if you start off your day well in the first hour, you are more productive compared to having a poor start to the day.
I must admit that this can be a lot easier for people who are “morning people” just like me, however the strategies identified below will work for anyone who is disciplined and committed to having a productive day.
Here are a few things you can do to optimize your most important hour of the day.
- Have a good night’s sleep. We all need to recover, refresh and rejuvenate and getting enough sleep is a vital part of achieving that. More and more research is suggesting that at least eight hours is needed every night for wellness, longevity and overall better health. Every person is different and the amount of sleep they require may vary. However, the aim should be to get between six to eight hours of sleep every night.
- Plan your next day the night before. There are a couple of important reasons for doing this.
i. If you know what you need to do when you get up, you can hit the ground running in the morning and not spend valuable time thinking through what you are going to do that day.
ii. When you decide what you are going to do the next day, your mind has all night to figure out how to make that happen. Have you ever woken up with new ideas or solutions to challenges you had been facing? That is the power of mind at work during the night.
- Have a To-Do list or a schedule. This is very similar to the above point where you have a plan for your day. Some people prefer to work off To-Do lists while some prefer to work off a schedule. Working off a schedule means between a certain block of time, you concentrate on a particular task. For example, between 9.00am and 12.00pm, you work on Project X. I tend to use both methods and alternate between them depending on what my priority is.
- Have rituals to start your day. We are all creatures of habit with as much as 90% of the things we do being habitual. So it would make sense to start your day with positive or empowering habits. Some of the daily rituals to adopt may include drinking a glass of water when you wake up, doing something physical like exercise or yoga, reading, visualizing how you want you day to unfold, meditating or having a healthy breakfast.
- Get into momentum early in the day. It is beneficial to prioritise your To-Do list so you know which order to tackle those tasks. Brian Tracy has written a book called “Eat That Frog” in which he suggests that you do the most important item on your list first. I agree that is a really powerful concept.
However, there are times when your most important task may not be an easy task or it could take up a considerable amount of your day, especially if you are working on an important project. It can be quite disheartening if, as you are getting towards the end of the day, you haven’t completed any item on your list. On such occasions, it may be beneficial to complete one or two of the easy tasks first on your list so you have a sense of accomplishment early and build momentum for the rest of the day. I tend to use both methods as they work for me. Use whatever method that works for you.
By applying these simple strategies, you will be well on your way to optimizing the most important hour of your day and being highly productive.
Question: What other strategies do you apply to ensure you have a productive day?
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