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Protect Your Morning Routine to Unlock Unrivalled Work Performance

Protect Your Morning Routine to Unlock Unrivalled Work Performance

Having a solid morning routine is one of the best ways to increase your productivity and improve your overall well-being.

My morning routine was in need of a serious overhaul. I went through a phase where I rolled over and checked my phone before I got out of bed. I just had to know what I had missed while I slept. You may be able to relate. Many of us start our days by checking our emails and social media, but this might not be the best thing for us.[1]

Starting our morning off incorrectly can drain our productivity. The typical work day lasts for eight hours, but we all know that our energy fluctuates during the day. [2] You may start your day feeling perky, but as the day wears on, you might find yourself in need of a nap. You have to make the most of periods of high energy.

Learn to work when your mind is at its sharpest

Benjamin Hardy’s “This Morning Routine will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week” offers helpful insights about the best ways to make the most of our time. The basic premise is that you are at your sharpest and most energetic first thing in the morning. Many people do not make full use of this productivity window.

How much work you did actually means nothing. What you did is key

It can be tempting to start your day by ticking a number of items of minor importance or your checklist. The problem is that by the time you dig yourself out from under a mountain of small tasks, you’ll probably be tired. This makes it so much harder to do the bigger and more important things on your list.

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For example, checking 100 emails might feel like you are being productive, but they’re just keeping you busy. Try doing one high-value action item first thing in the morning, and save those emails for later.

Plan your first three hours carefully because you are at your productivity peak

Provided that we’ve had enough sleep, our minds are at their freshest within the first three hours of waking. When you take full advantage of this productivity window, you’ll be able to do better quality work in less time.

If you save your most important work for the afternoon, you put yourself at a disadvantage. By then, you are already tired, and it will take more effort for you to get the same results that you could easily get in the morning.

It helps to start out by plotting out the tasks that you have to do and prioritizing your schedule. David Allen’s Getting Things Done method is one of the best productivity models for helping you prioritize and organize.[3]

Allen’s method is simple. Write down the items that need your attention, decide which pieces you need to work on yourself, which ones can be delegated, and which ones are not actionable. After you’ve determined what you need to do, break big projects into smaller steps, set deadlines to prioritize action items, and execute.

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At Lifehack, we love using the Getting Things Done method. You can read more about how we’ve implemented it from Brian Lee[4] and CM Smith. [5]

Never underestimate the power of your rest and recovery, they determine large part of your productivity tomorrow

So many of us have been brought up to believe that tireless work and constant availability are the hallmarks of a great employee. In fact, failing to unplug from work can be detrimental to your health, happiness, and work.

Hardy states:

“When you’re at work, be fully absorbed. When it’s time to call it a day, completely detach yourself from work and become absorbed in the other areas of your life.”

When you are working, engage completely in whatever you are doing. When it’s time to come home, refrain from checking your email or taking late calls. You need the time to unwind so that you don’t burn out.

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When you come back to work after keeping your free time sacred, you’ll be better equipped to tackle challenges. You won’t dread your job, you’ll be less likely to procrastinate, and you’ll be more effective.

It’s time to adopt a new morning routine

If you’re squandering your most productive times by playing with your phone like I was, it’s time for a morning routine overhaul. Before I read, “This Morning Routine will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week” I didn’t realize how much time I was wasting.

Instead of spending my first three hours scrolling through my Facebook and clearing my inbox, I start my day with mindfulness. I have a healthy breakfast, take my dog for a 20-minute walk, where I think about and prioritize my schedule, and then I get to work right away.

I’ve noticed that I can work for a solid three to five hours by putting aside menial task until later in the day. When I do stop to take a break, I disconnect completely for a few minutes. Even if my day stopped here, I can already say that I accomplished a great deal.

I worry about my emails and social media after I’ve worked solidly on a high-priority project for at least three hours. Since those tasks don’t require too much creativity or deep-thinking, I can do them when my energy is lower without making any sacrifices.

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Changing my routine has made it easier to get more done

Rethinking my morning routine has enabled me to get more out of short periods of intense focus than I used to get out of working a full eight hours. Since I end my work days feeling like I have accomplished a lot, I don’t feel any guilt over taking the time to recover when I go home. I commit to rest and relaxation with the same zeal that I pursue my priorities at work.

Hardy’s method has restored balance to my schedule. I feel a greater sense of satisfaction from the work that I do, and I’m present in every situation in a way that I simply wasn’t before.

Benjamin Hardy’s work philosophy in “This Morning Routine will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week” will save you time and make you feel a greater sense of accomplishment at the end of your day.

Reference

More by this author

Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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