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Protect Your Morning Routine to Unlock Unrivalled Work Performance

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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 October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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