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10 Ways To Have A Refreshingly Great Morning

10 Ways To Have A Refreshingly Great Morning

Ah, mornings. Sometimes we spring out of bed and can’t wait for the day to start, and other days we hit the snooze a few times too many. How can we make it so the former happens more often in our lives?

Jump-starting the day on a positive note not only makes us happier throughout the day but also makes us a pleasure to be around. Here are 10 ways we can all increase our chances of having a refreshingly great morning and wonderful day.

Get A Good Night’s Rest

This may sound easier than it is for some of us, me included. But honestly, good sleep is where it all starts with the added benefit of strengthening your memory. Going to bed early is key, and having a ritual before bedtime can make a huge difference. I like to wind down at about 8:30 p.m. from the day with a cup of tea. Most nights, I journal about my day or write down ideas while enjoying my tea. Writing a to-do list for tomorrow can also be powerful to rest the spinning thoughts in your mind. Then, reading in bed around 9:30 p.m. is always a 1-2 knockout for me. Once you establish your pattern and avoid distractions (especially alcohol), you will be well on your way to a refreshing morning.

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Get Up Early

Since we’re going to bed early, it only makes sense to get up early as well. It might be difficult to spring out of bed at 5 or 6 a.m., but once you start this pattern, you will feel like the day is wasted if you don’t continue getting up early. If you’re having trouble, you can simply set your smartphone’s alarm clock or try one of these alarm apps. Once again, establishing a pattern will help you be on time for the rest of the day.

Get Outside And Enjoy Nature

Nature is so peaceful and it can really awaken our spirits. I take my dog for a 15-minute walk every morning, rain or shine. I often joke and wonder if it’s benefiting my dog or me more? Or, you might go for a jog. Try to be mindful of this great time with nature. Connect and express gratitude in each step.

Don’t Undervalue Meditation

It may sound like some hippie new-age babble, but this works. I recently read “10% Happier” by Dan Harris and enjoyed it thoroughly. The concept of meditation is quite simple. Just choose a comfortable spot and focus on your breathing for five minutes to start. Then work your way up to 15-30 minutes. If your mind wanders away from your breath, and it will, bring it back. I guarantee this will start to have a dramatic effect on mornings and throughout the day. Try it!

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Spend Time With Loved Ones

If you’re married or have kids, be grateful for this time to share with those you love most. Use FaceTime or Skype if they’re not near. If you’re single, call your best friend and chat for a few minutes. The positive voices of friends and family is a sure fire way to have a great morning.

Get To The Gym, And Sweat

Mornings are the perfect time to increase your metabolism and have a killer workout. Switch it up. Throw around weights one morning, get into a hot yoga class another, or do 40 minutes on any machine. You could also mix 20 minutes of cardio with weight training. Staying in the gym for anything more than 45 minutes is just a waste of time. You will feel refreshed throughout the day, and feeling sore the next day is an awesome accomplishment.

Have An Energizing Breakfast

We all know breakfast is the power meal of the day, but it depends on what we eat to make this true. Pancakes, waffles or donuts are junk and will slow you down for the day to come. Instead, choose to make an energizing smoothie with fruits, vegetables and a protein powder of your choice. Another option is oatmeal with blueberries or avocados with eggs, yum. I mix it up every morning while catching up on the news and my favorite blogs. This is also the perfect time to enjoy a good cup of coffee or refreshing green/black tea.

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Tackle The Important Stuff First

It doesn’t matter if you work from home or from the office. Your mind is the most fresh and creative in the mornings before it starts to get drowned by the chatter of others. Use this time wisely to work on critical tasks for your own business or your higher-ups. If you don’t keep a list of important tasks, mornings are a great time to create one. I always say, “If you don’t write it down, it won’t happen.”

Check Your Email

I know most will say checking email is not productive first thing in the morning, but it can work if you’re not entirely reactive to it. Take a look and know which people you need to check in with around you. If however, there’s a critical message, your mind will be clear to respond properly.

Don’t Be Late

I once heard a phrase about being on time, and it has stuck with me since. It goes like this, “If you’re 15 minutes early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.” If you’re driving to a meeting, leave early. If it’s a webinar, check in early and minimize the window until it starts. Being early will keep you less stressed and make you feel more productive.

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The most important takeaway is to establish a pattern for your mornings. These 10 ways help me to create a great morning everyday (well, most days), and I hope they help start or re-enforce your morning routine for an amazing day, everyday.

Featured photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mukumbura/ via flickr.com

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Dario Zadro

Web Strategist

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Forget Learning How to Multitask: Boost Productivity 10X More with Focus

Forget Learning How to Multitask: Boost Productivity 10X More with Focus

There’s a dark side to the conveniences of the Digital Age. With smartphones that function like handheld computers, it has become increasingly difficult to leave our work behind. Sometimes it seems like we’re expected to be accessible 24/7.

How often are you ever focused on just one thing? Most of us try to meet these demands by multi-tasking.

Many of us have bought into the myth that we can achieve more through multi-tasking. In this article, I’ll show you how you can accomplish more work in less time. Spoiler alert: multi-tasking is not the answer.

Why is multitasking a myth?

The term “multi-tasking” was originally used to describe how microprocessors in computers work. Machines multitask, but people cannot.

Despite our inability to simultaneously perform two tasks at once, many people believe they are excellent multi-taskers.

You can probably imagine plenty of times when you do several things at once. Maybe you talk on the phone while you’re cooking or respond to emails during your commute.

Consider the amount of attention that each of these tasks requires. Chances are, at least one of the two tasks in question is simple enough to be carried out on autopilot.

We’re okay at simultaneously performing simple tasks, but what if you were trying to perform two complex tasks? Can you really work on your presentation and watch a movie at the same time? It can be fun to try to watch TV while you work, but you may be unintentionally making your work more difficult and time-consuming.

Your brain on multi-tasking

Your brain wasn’t designed to multi-tasking. To compensate, it will switch from task to task. Your focus turns to whatever task seems more urgent. The other task falls into the background until you realize you’ve been neglecting it.

When you’re bouncing back and forth like this, an area of the brain known as Broadmann’s Area 10 activates. Located in your fronto-polar prefrontal cortex at the very front of the brain, this area controls your ability to shift focus. People who think they are excellent multitaskers are really just putting Broadmann’s Area 10 to work.

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But I can juggle multiple tasks!

You are capable of taking in information with your eyes while doing other things efficiently. Scientifically speaking, making use of your vision is the only thing you can truly do while doing something else.

For everything else, you’re serial tasking. This constant refocusing can be exhausting, and it prevents us from giving our work the deep attention it deserves.

Think about how much longer it takes to do something when you have to keep reminding yourself to focus.

Why multitasking is failing you

Multitasking does more bad than good to your productivity, here’re 4 reasons why you should stop multitasking:

Multitasking wastes your time.

You lose time when you interrupt yourself. People lose an average of 2.1 hours per day getting themselves back on track when they switch between tasks.

In fact, some studies suggest that doing multiple things at once decreases your productivity by as much as 40%. That’s a significant loss in efficiency. You wouldn’t want your surgeon to be 40% less productive while you’re on the operating table, would you?

It makes you dumber.

A distracted brain performs a full 10 IQ points lower than a focused brain. You’ll also be more forgetful, slower at completing tasks, and more likely to make mistakes.

You’ll have to work harder to fix your mistakes. If you miss an important detail, you could risk injury or fail to complete the task properly.

This is an emotional response.

There’s so much data suggesting that multitasking is ineffective but people insist that they can multitask.

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Feeling productive fulfills an emotional need. We want to feel like we’re accomplishing something. Why accomplish just one item on the to-do list when you can check off two or three?

It’ll wear you out.

When you’re jumping from task to task, it can feel invigorating for a little while. Over time, this needs to fill every second with more and more work leads to burn out.

We’re simply not built to multitask, so when we try, the effect can be exhausting. This destroys your productivity and your motivation.

How to stop multitasking and work productively

Flitting back and forth between tasks feels second-nature after a while. This is in part because Broadmann’s Area 10 becomes better at serial tasking through time.

In addition to changing how the brain works, this serial tasking behavior can quickly turn into a habit.

Just like any bad habit, you’ll need to recognize that you need to make a change first. Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to adjust to a lifestyle of productive mono-tasking:

1. Consciously change gears

Instead of trying to work on two distinct tasks at once, consider setting up a system to remind you when to change focus. This technique worked for Jerry Linenger, an American astronaut onboard the space station, Mir.

As an astronaut, he had many things to take care of every day. He set alarms for himself on a few watches. When a particular watch sounded, he knew it was time to switch tasks. This enabled him to be 100% in tune with what he was doing at any given moment.

This strategy is effective because the alarm served as his reminder for what was to come next. Linenger’s intuition about setting reminders falls in line with research conducted by Paul Burgess of University College, London on multitasking.

2. Manage multiple tasks without multitasking

Raj Dash of Performancing.com has an effective strategy for balancing multiple projects without multitasking. He suggests taking 15 minutes to acquaint yourself with a new project before moving on to other work. Revisit the project later and do about thirty minutes on research and brainstorming.

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Allow a few days to pass before knocking out the project in question. While you were actively work on other projects, your brain continues to problem solve-in the background.

This method works because it gives us the opportunity to work on several projects without allowing them to compete for your attention.

3. Set aside distractions

Your smartphone, your inbox and the open tabs on your computer are all open invitations for distraction. Give yourself time each day when you silence your notifications, close your inbox and remove unnecessary tabs from your desktop.

If you want to focus, you can’t give anything else an opportunity to invade your mental space.

Emails can be particularly invasive because they often have an unnecessary sense of urgency associated with them. Some work cultures stress the importance of prompt responses to these messages, but we can’t treat every situation like an emergency.

Designate certain times in your day for checking and responding to emails to avoid compulsive checking.

4. Take care of yourself

We often blame electronics for pulling us from our work, but sometimes our physical body forces us into a state of serial tasking. If you’re hungry while you’re trying to work, your attention will flip between your hunger and your work until you take care of your physical needs.

Try to take all your bio-breaks before you sit down for an uninterrupted stint of work.

In addition, you’ll also want to be sure you’re attending to your health in a broader sense. Getting enough exercise, practicing mindfulness and incorporating regular breaks into your day will keep you from being tempted by distractions.

5. Take a break

People are more likely to head to YouTube or check their social media when they need a break. Instead of trying to work and watch a mindless video at the same time, give yourself times when you’re allowed to enjoy your distracting activity of choice.

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Limit how much time you’ll spend on this break so that your guilt-free distraction time doesn’t turn into hours of wasted time.

6. Make technology your ally

Scientists are beginning to discover the detrimental effects of chronic serial tasking on our brains. Some companies are developing programs to curb this desire to multitask.

Apps like Forest turn staying focused into a game. Extensions like RescueTime help you track your online habits so that you can be more aware of how you spend your time.

The key to productivity: Focus

Multitasking is not the key to productivity. It’s far better to schedule time to focus on each task than it is to try to do everything at once.

Make use of the methods outlined above and prepare to be more effective and less exhausted in the process.

If you want to learn more about how to focus, don’t miss my other article:

How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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