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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 September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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