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7 Morning Hacks to Jumpstart Your Day

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7 Morning Hacks to Jumpstart Your Day
    Photo credit: Roberto Bouza (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m really not a morning person.

    I’ve tried to get myself going in the early hours of the morning, but I’ve always been more of a night owl – my creative juices seem to flow better in the later hours. So I’d be the last person to suggest that you need to force yourself out of bed before your body and mind are really ready to do so.

    But when you do get up, you may find that you’re pressed for time and have fallen behind the rest of the crowd in what you need to get done during the day. A slow start to your day won’t help anyone, let alone you.

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    Just because you’re not up as the sun rises doesn’t mean that you can’t put yourself in a position to make sure that the day ahead will be a productive one. You need to put some things into play so that you can make the most of your waking hours.

    On that note, here are 10 “morning hacks” to jumpstart your day:

    1. Wash your face right after getting up.

    Rather than make your way to the kitchen for that cup of coffee, head to the bathroom and splash some cold water on your face. Once the alarm goes off, head out of bed and straight to the sink. The refreshing feeling you’ll get from the water hitting your face will act as a trigger that it’s time for your body to get moving. Think of it as having a pail of water thrown on you while you’re still in bed – but with a little less wetness and cleanup required.

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    2. Program your coffeemaker in advance.

    This one may not sit well with the coffee connoisseurs out there, but the smell of fresh brewed coffee sends a signal to your brain that says, “It’s time to get up”. If you’ve got a coffeemaker with pre-programming features then you’re all set. Just set it to start each day at the time you know you’ll want to get up (remember that you don’t have to get up earlier, be reasonable with your demands on yourself), prepare it the night before, and you’ll be good to go when morning comes.

    3. Put your alarm clock out of reach.

    I keep my alarm clock across the room so that I have to actually get out of bed to turn it off. It’s also close enough to my bedroom door so that I can head straight to the bathroom to give myself my morning splash. I also use an alarm clock app on my iPhone that takes some effort to shut off (such as Mission Alarm Clock; there’s also Challenging Alarm Clock for Android users), meaning I actually have to be awake in order to stop it from going off.

    Oh, and by using my iPhone I’ve got an alarm clock that is great for travel and I’m less likely to abuse the device – it is a pretty expensive alarm clock, after all.

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    4. Go outside.

    I step outside with my coffee and sit on my deck whenever the weather permits. It connects me with the outside world right off the bat and puts me in a place where I’m not jumping online right away. I’m enjoying the day as it arrives (for me, anyway) and sipping a fine cup of joe while doing so. Fresh air is good at any time of day, and getting it early on is never a bad thing.

    5. Plan your day the night before.

    Despite being done at night — the night before — this is most certainly a morning hack. I give my task manager a good review before hitting the sack for the night. Because my late-night habits often put me at performance par with those who get up a couple of hours before I do, I’m rarely behind in my productivity. The key is to “time shift” so that you’re ahead of the early risers the night before. By planning your day in advance (and even doing some of the tasks the night before), you can go to bed at ease.

    6. Mix it up.

    I do the things above as part of my wake-up routine, mixing it up from time to time but never straying from these things. For example, I like to make freshly-ground coffee, so I do that instead of pre-programming it for myself. But I prepare my wife’s coffee for her the night before and still get the benefits of the aroma in the morning. I don’t go outside every day – sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate – but I definitely look outside every day when I get up. I’ve positioned my sitting chair in my bedroom in such a way that I can enjoy my coffee while looking out the sliding glass doors every morning. A routine is beneficial, but don’t make it essential. You need to have some flexibility built in, otherwise when things you can’t control cause your routine to go off the rails you’ll be more inclined to start sluggishly.

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    7. Recognize your best workflow patterns.

    It’s a commonly held belief by those who dwell in the productivity realm that email shouldn’t be the first thing you bury yourself in when you start your day. I agree, but if you’re having trouble jumpstarting your day you need to figure out if that’s why or if it’s something else that needs to be adjusted. Perhaps by setting yourself up the night before, you feel that email can be your first target. Go with that until it doesn’t work for you. Maybe, like me, the first thing you check is your RSS feeds so that you can have something to spark your day. It could be that you want to dive right into the heavy stuff while your energy is high. Take the time to really reflect on your workflow practices and patterns and honestly ask yourself what isn’t working and what is. Leave the stuff that is alone, monitor the stuff that sits somewhere in between until you see how it reacts to the changes that you must make to the stuff that isn’t working. Wholesale changes rarely lead to results; you often abandon the changes altogether when you try that. Tweaks, however, can lead to results because they’re not as painful to adopt. So rather than going ahead and “changing”, try “tweaking” instead.

    What tips do you use to jumpstart your day? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Last Updated on November 25, 2021

    Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

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    Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

    With all of the recent online services and companies falling under attack to hackers in the past few months, it seems only fitting to talk about password creation and management. There are a lot of resources out there discussing this, but it never hurts to revisit this topic time and again because of its importance.

    Password management isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do, yet it does seem like a bit of an annoyance to most people. When it comes to password management, you will hear the famous line, “I don’t really care about changing my passwords regularly. I have nothing important online anyways.” Let’s see if you have nothing important online when your PayPal account gets taken over because you thought the password “password” was good enough.

    In my opinion, it is an “internet user’s” responsibility to make sure that they keep secure passwords and update them on a regular basis. In this article we will discuss how to make your online presence more secure and keep it secure.

    The easy fundamentals

    First thing is first; creating a strong password.

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    A strong password is a mixture of alpha-numeric characters and symbols, has a good length (hopefully 15 characters or longer), and doesn’t necessarily represent some word or phrase. If the service you are signing up for doesn’t allow passwords over a certain length, like 8 characters, always use the maximum length.

    Here are some examples of strong passwords:
    * i1?,2,2\1′(:-%Y
    * ZQ5t0466VC44PmJ
    * mp]K{ dCFKVplGe]PBm1mKdinLSOoa (30 characters)

    And not so good examples
    * sammy1234
    * password123
    * christopher

    You can check out PC Tools Password Generator here. This is a great way to make up some very strong passwords. Of course the more random passwords are harder to remember, but that is where password management comes into play.

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    Managing your passwords

    I know some people that keep their passwords in an unencrypted text file. That’s not a good idea. I suppose that if you aren’t doing much online and are decent at avoiding viruses and such, it could be OK, but I would never recommend it.

    So, where do you keep your strong passwords for all the services that you visit on a daily basis?

    There are a ton of password safes out there including KeePass, RoboForm, Passpack, Password Safe, LastPass, and 1Password. If and when I recommend any of these I always count on LastPass and 1Password.

    Both LastPass and 1Password offer different entry types for online services logins (PayPal, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc.), credit cards and bank accounts, online identities, and other types of sensitive information. Both have excellent reviews and only differ in a few subtle ways. One of the ways that is more notable is that LastPass keeps your encrypted password Vault online where 1Password allows you to keep it locally or shared through Dropbox. Either way, you are the holder of the encryption keys and both ways are very secure.

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    LastPass and 1Password both offer cross-platform support as well as support for Android and iOS (LastPass even has BlackBerry support). 1Password is a little pricey ($39.99 for either Windows or Mac) where LastPass has free options as well as premium upgrades that allow for mobile syncing.

    Upkeep

    You should probably change your passwords for your “important” accounts at least every 6 weeks. When I say “important” accounts I am referring to ones that you just couldn’t imagine losing access to. For me that would be Gmail, PayPal, eBay, Amazon, all my FTP accounts and hosting accounts, Namecheap, etc. Basically these include any account where financial information could be lost or accessed as well as accounts that could be totally screwed up (like my webserver).

    There is no hard and fast rule to how often you should change your passwords, but 6 to 8 weeks should be pretty good.

    Alternatives

    You may think that all of this is just too much to manage on a daily basis. I will admit it is kind of annoying to have to change your passwords and use a password manager on a daily basis. For those people out there that don’t want to go through all of the hub-bub of super-secure, encrypted, password management, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

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    1. Create a unique and hard to guess “base password” and then a pattern to use for each site you logon onto. For instance a base password could be “Ih2BaSwAa” (this stands for “I have two brothers and sisters who are annoying”). Then you would add something “site specific” to the end of it. For Twitter Ih2BaSwAaTWTTR, Facebook Ih2BaSwAaFCBK, etc. This is sort of unsecure, but probably more secure than 99% of the passwords out there.
    2. Don’t write your passwords down in public places. If you want to keep track of passwords on something written, keep it on you at least. The problem is that if you get your wallet stolen you are still out of luck.
    3. Don’t use the same passwords for every service. I’m not even going to explain this; just don’t do it.

    These are just a few things that can be done rather than keeping your passwords in a management system. Personally, with over 100 entries in my password management system, I couldn’t even dream of doing any other way. But those out there with only a few passwords, having a simpler system may be beneficial.

    So, if you want to be a “responsible internet citizen” or you just don’t want to lose your precious account data, then creating and maintaining strong passwords for your online accounts is a must.

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