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8 Morning Habits To Enhance Your Productivity

8 Morning Habits To Enhance Your Productivity

Here are some of my favorite ways to have a productive day by starting your day with the right habits. Try to adjust your morning habits to set yourself up for a successful, extremely productive day. Hopefully these methods will help you as much as they have helped me.

1. Fuel your body with an amazing breakfast

Have you ever noticed how some mornings you feel great and ready to tackle the world, and other days you have a mid-day slump? Having a healthy breakfast can help keep you feeling energized. Avoiding excessive sugar in the morning can help prevent a mid-day crash. If your mornings are usually pretty rushed, do everything you can in advance. Fueling your body with a healthy breakfast can help set you up for success all day long.

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2. Kickstart your day with a plan

After your healthy breakfast, launch into your day with a plan. I believe it’s very important to plan out your day. It doesn’t have to be a totally rigid schedule, but a tentative schedule with time blocks to accomplish certain tasks seems to work great. It works best for me to take a few minutes at the end of every day to write out my plan for the next day. When I have a plan for my day, it helps me get started on my goals and priorities immediately the next morning, rather than lounging around and saying “I don’t feel like it today.”

3. Eat the frog

One of my favorite productivity quotes is by Mark Twain, who said, “Eat a live frog first thing every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” If you’re like me, there are certain tasks you tend to procrastinate because they are scary or overwhelming. The task you dread on your schedule is your frog. When you complete your dreaded task (aka eat the frog) right away in the morning, you’ll start your day feeling accomplished and have the momentum and confidence you need to get other tasks done. Plus, they’ll all be much more enjoyable to you than the frog you just ate.

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4. Try the Pomodoro technique

The what? Pomodoro means ‘tomato’ in Italian. The man who invented this technique used a kitchen timer shaped like a tomato to do the technique. It’s a simple concept but incredibly helpful and I love using this technique in my morning routine. To do it, choose a task you want to accomplish, then set your kitchen timer for 25 minutes. Then, focus intently on the task until the timer beeps. To learn more, check out this article about the Pomodoro technique.

5. Use Parkinson’s Law

One of my favorite productivity hacks that I use all the time is Parkinson’s Law. Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. In other words, you greatly increase your effort to complete a task when you have less time to get it done. Chances are, you’ve used Parkinson’s Law in your life without even realizing it. Think about how hard you work to finish a paper when it’s due in a few hours, or how you can make your house spotless very quickly when an unexpected visitor says they’re coming over soon.

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To be more productve in your daily life, use Parkinsons’ Law. Set deadlines for yourself to get things done efficiently. Realizing you have limited time delegated to each specific task will help improve your focus on the task and skyrocket your productivity as you work on that task.

6. Turn off distractions

Do you roll out of bed and immediately start scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed, listen to your voicemails, or check your email? I used to do that, but this year have made some big changes in my morning routine and now I turn off distractions and start my day focused on my goals. When you immediately check your social media accounts when you wake up, you’re starting your day off reactively. You are then focused on reacting and responding, rather than being proactive and focused on taking action steps toward your goals. Personally, I’ve found I am much more productive in the mornings when I turn off distractions, focus on my goals, and then have a specific time set aside to check and respond to emails and social media messages.

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7. Choose an accountability partner

Choose someone to help keep you accountable to have a more productive morning routine. It doesn’t have to be someone with the same goals as you. Even if your accountability partner has different interests and aspirations, you can both help encourage each other to stay on task, and set up times to check in with each other to report that you’ve accomplished your daily or weekly goals.

8. Spend time each day working on a big goal

Set aside time each morning to work toward a big long-term goal you have. Even if it’s just a few minutes to start, it will gradually add up to major progress over time. Also, when you take little steps every day toward your long-term goal, your confidence will grow with each small accomplishment you experience.

Now I’d love to hear from you. What are your favorite productivity hacks for your morning routine?

More by this author

Dr. Kerry Petsinger

Entrepreneur, Mindset & Performance Coach, & Doctor of Physical Therapy

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Last Updated on September 30, 2019

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

How To Write Effective Meeting Minutes (with Examples)

Minutes are a written record of a board, company, or organizational meeting. Meeting minutes are considered a legal document, so when writing them, strive for clarity and consistency of tone.

Because minutes are a permanent record of the meeting, be sure to proofread them well before sending. It is a good idea to run them by a supervisor or seasoned attendee to make sure statements and information are accurately captured.

The best meeting minutes takers are careful listeners, quick typists, and are adequately familiar with the meeting topics and attendees. The note taker must have a firm enough grasp of the subject matter to be able to separate the important points from the noise in what can be long, drawn-out discussions. And, importantly, the note taker should not simultaneously lead and take notes. (If you’re ever asked to do so, decline.)

Following, are some step-by-step hints to effectively write meeting minutes:

1. Develop an Agenda

Work with the Chairperson or Board President to develop a detailed agenda.

Meetings occur for a reason, and the issues to be addressed and decided upon need to be listed to alert attendees. Work with the convener to draft an agenda that assigns times to each topic to keep the meeting moving and to make sure the group has enough time to consider all items.

The agenda will serve as your outline for the meeting minutes. Keep the minutes’ headings consistent with the agenda topics for continuity.

2. Follow a Template from Former Minutes Taken

If you are new to a Board or organization, and are writing minutes for the first time, ask to see the past meeting minutes so that you can maintain the same format.

Generally, the organization name or the name of the group that is meeting goes at the top: “Meeting of the Board of Directors of XYZ,” with the date on the next line. After the date, include both the time the meeting came to order and the time the meeting ended.

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Most groups who meet do so regularly, with set agenda items at each meeting. Some groups include a Next Steps heading at the end of the minutes that lists projects to follow up on and assigns responsibility.

A template from a former meeting will also help determine whether or not the group records if a quorum was met, and other items specific to the organization’s meeting minutes.

3. Record Attendance

On most boards, the Board Secretary is the person responsible for taking the meeting minutes. In organizational meetings, the minutes taker may be a project coordinator or assistant to a manager or CEO. She or he should arrive a few minutes before the meeting begins and pass around an attendance sheet with all members’ names and contact information.

Meeting attendees will need to check off their names and make edits to any changes in their information. This will help as both a back-up document of attendees and ensure that information goes out to the most up-to-date email addresses.

All attendees’ names should be listed directly below the meeting name and date, under a subheading that says “Present.” List first and last names of all attendees, along with title or affiliation, separated by a comma or semi-colon.

If a member of the Board could not attend the meeting, cite his or her name after the phrase: “Copied To:” There may be other designations in the participants’ list. For example, if several of the meeting attendees are members of the staff while everyone else is a volunteer, you may want to write (Staff) after each staff member.

As a general rule, attendees are listed alphabetically by their last names. However, in some organizations, it’s a best practice to list the leadership of the Board first. In that case, the President or Co-Presidents would be listed first, followed by the Vice President, followed by the Secretary, and then by the Treasurer. Then all other names of attendees would be alphabetized by last name.

It is also common practice to note if a participant joined the meeting via conference call. This can be indicated by writing: “By Phone” and listing the participants who called in.

4. Naming Convention

Generally, the first time someone speaks in the meeting will include his or her name and often the title.

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For example, “President of the XYZ Board, Roger McGowan, called the meeting to order.” The next time Roger McGowan speaks, though, you can simply refer to him as “Roger.” If there are two Rogers in the meeting, use an initial for their last names to separate the two. “Roger M. called for a vote. Roger T. abstained.”

5. What, and What Not, to Include

Depending on the nature of the meeting, it could last from one to several hours. The attendees will be asked to review and then approve the meeting minutes. Therefore, you don’t want the minutes to extend into a lengthy document.

Capturing everything that people say verbatim is not only unnecessary, but annoying to reviewers.

For each agenda item, you ultimately want to summarize only the relevant points of the discussion along with any decisions made. After the meeting, cull through your notes, making sure to edit out any circular or repetitive arguments and only leave in the relevant points made.

6. Maintain a Neutral Tone

Minutes are a legal document. They are used to establish an organization’s historical record of activity. It is essential to maintain an even, professional tone. Never put inflammatory language in the minutes, even if the language of the meeting becomes heated.

You want to record the gist of the discussion objectively, which means mentioning the key points covered without assigning blame. For example, “The staff addressed board members’ questions regarding the vendor’s professionalism.”

Picture a lawyer ten years down the road reading the minutes to find evidence of potential wrongdoing. You wouldn’t want an embellishment in the form of a colorful adverb or a quip to cloud any account of what took place. Here’s a list of neutral sounding words to get started with.

7. Record Votes

The primary purpose of minutes is to record any votes a board or organization takes. Solid record-keeping requires mentioning which participant makes a motion — and what the motion states verbatim — and which participant seconds the motion.

For example, “Vice President Cindy Jacobsen made a motion to dedicate 50 percent, or $50,000, of the proceeds from the ZZZ Foundation gift to the CCC scholarship fund. President Roger McGowan seconded the motion.”

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This vote tabulation should be expressed in neutral language as well. “The Board voted unanimously to amend the charter in the following way,” or “The decision to provide $1,000 to the tree-planting effort passed 4 to 1, with Board President McGowan opposing.”

Most Boards try to get a vote passed unanimously. Sometimes in order to help the Board attain a more cohesive outcome, a Board member may abstain from voting. “The motion passed 17 to 1 with one absension.”

8. Pare down Notes Post-Meeting

Following the meeting, read through your notes while all the discussions remain fresh in your mind, and make any needed revisions. Then, pare the meeting minutes down to their essentials, providing a brief account of the discussion that summarizes arguments made for and against a decision.

People often speak colloquially or in idioms, as in: “This isn’t even in the ballpark” or “You’re beginning to sound like a broken record.” While you may be tempted to keep the exact language in the minutes to add color, resist.

Additionally, if any presentations are part of the meeting, do not include information from the Powerpoint in the minutes. However, you will want to record the key points from the post-presentation discussion.

9. Proofread with Care

Make sure that you spelled all names correctly, inserted the correct date of the meeting, and that your minutes read clearly.

Spell out acronyms the first time they’re used. Remember that the notes may be reviewed by others for whom the acronyms are unfamiliar. Stay consistent in headings, punctuation, and formatting. The minutes should be polished and professional.

10. Distribute Broadly

Once approved, email minutes to the full board — not just the attendees — for review. Your minutes will help keep those who were absent apprised of important actions and decisions.

At the start of the next meeting, call for the approval of the minutes. Note any revisions. Try to work out the agreed-upon changes in the meeting, so that you don’t spend a huge amount of time on revisions.

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Ask for a motion to approve the minutes with the agreed-upon changes. Once an attendee offers a motion, ask for another person in the meeting to “second” the motion. They say, “All approved.” Always ask if there is anyone who does not approve. Assuming not, then say: “The minutes from our last meeting are approved once the agreed-upon changes have been made.”

11. File Meticulously

Since minutes are a legal document, take care when filing them. Make sure the file name of the document is consistent with the file names of previously filed minutes.

Occasionally, members of the organization may want to review past minutes. Know where the minutes are filed!

One Caveat

In this day and age of high technology, you may ask yourself: Wouldn’t it be simpler to record the meeting? This depends on the protocols of the organization, but probably not.

Be sure to ask what the rules are at the organization where you are taking minutes. Remember that the minutes are a record of what was done at the meeting, not what was said at the meeting.

The minutes reflect decisions not discussions. In spite of their name, “minutes,” the minutes are not a minute-by-minute transcript.

Bottom Line

Becoming an expert minutes-taker requires a keen ear, a willingness to learn, and some practice, but by following these tips you will soon become proficient.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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