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4 Things You Should Not Do For A Productive Morning

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4 Things You Should Not Do For A Productive Morning

Some people use their mornings as if it was their last glimmer of freedom before their heinous day begins. Don’t be that person. The morning is your time to leverage the rest of your day, it is not an island in time. The morning is the foundation of your sane and productive day. By constructing a sane morning that is linked to the rest of your day you will be blessing yourself later in the afternoon. You will not only feel more calm, you will be more productive too. Productive mornings are indeed withint everyones reach. Phew.

Follow these 4 simple steps to leverage that morning power.

1. Your morning is not an island in time.

Stop treating your morning as if it were your time to indulge before your ‘real day’ begins. You can use your evenings for that should you need it. Your mornings are an integral part of your day. From the moment your eyes open, your day has officially begun. Use that precious morning time for your advantage later on in the day when your energy and mental agility is declining. Get in the kitchen and get yourself a nutritious start to the day (no, coffee is not a stable breakfast) and while you are there think ahead for your lunch and dinner. Did you bring salad from last night for lunch? How about dinner? Can you take the 2 minutes to put a lentil soup on and fling some brown rice into your rice cooker? Are you always hungry at work? Pack some healthy snacks.

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Granted, these meal and snacks need thought and action before hand, but you would be surprised how many people are in such a daze in the mornings that they have all the right equipment for whipping up a nutritious snack/dinner/lunch and don’t even think about it as they pour themselves a coffee and check their Twitter status updates.

Sorry to be brutal but just as there are no exceptions to finance budgets, for productive people there are no exceptions for time budgets. Your morning self and afternoon self are BFF’s. Don’t forget that.

2. No email

That being said we need to get you out of the ‘let me just check my email’ mindset. Your email is a mailbox, plain and simple. If you were tidying up your house 3 minutes before your inlaws arrived would you be running outside to check your mailbox every 2 minutes? That would be quite a waste of time wouldn’t it? All that time wasted between throwing the clutter in boxes and running down the garden path to open up the mailbox and check… well there isn’t a garden path leading you to check your email but the concept is precisely the same. By checking your email every 2 minutes you are turning your productive time into swiss cheese and thats not what mornings are for.

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Entire books have been written teaching the perils of checking email in the morning. These books are not wrong, so commit to stop that time wasting habit right now. Check your email later in the morning (or after lunch) once your creativity is starting to wane and you can start to be more reactive than proactive. Take email off your phone right now. Yup, I can wait a few minutes. If it is difficult to break the habit because it has become an addiction of sorts. Do it anyway, trust me your 3pm self will thank you.

3. No Social Media

Now that we have mentioned email addiction there is no secret that social media is an addiction, too. Go and look at any group of  teenagers and see how many are interacting with one another and how many are updating there instagram status. It’s a plague. Don’t be like those people. There is nothing social about social media. It’s another false allure of the shiny red flashing light promising us excitement, false connection and news updates. We need none of that in our mornings.

In a perfect world you would indulge in your social media addiction on Sunday evenings as a fun activity. Most certainly never on a weekday and never ever ever on a morning. Take all those social media addictions off of your phone. Stop lying to yourself that it is getting you connected, it’s a false reality you are living in. If you truly want to be productive you need to stop donating your time, focus and energy to worthless endeavours.

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4. No decision making

As Dr Barry Schwartz teaches us so eloquently: we are bombarded left, right and center with decision making. Making too many decisions leads to decision making fatigue whereby we get so exhausted from making decisions over the small stuff that we don’t have enough decision making juice when it comes to the decisions that actually matter. So streamline your mornings so you don’t have to think. Leave out one toothpaste, one shampoo and one soap so you can enjoy your mornings without thinking. Don’t buy too many cereals and create a lunch and dinner plan so you don’t waste your precious early morning brain cells on needless decisions. Create a wardrobe of simple yet awesome work clothes so you don’t have to create outfit combinations before you are fully awake.

So if we take away social media and all decision making … what are mornings for? Mornings are for three main categories of living. Firstly, after a good nights sleep we should be waking up with a couple of good ideas or at the very least a person we want to reach out to or a phonecall we need to return. Don’t act on that idea at 5am as it will either wake up a nice person who is still sleeping or lure you into doing more email … simply record your awesome idea for action later on in the day. These great ideas often get forgotten or not recorded, what a waste!

Mornings are also for connecting with our loved ones, having a conversation with out children or even ( gasp!) shooting a few hoops before they leave to school. How about a morning jog for you alone or with your spouse?

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And remember, your mornings are connected to your evenings, see what you can do now for your 6pm self. You see once we remove the false crutches we get to truly live, truly connect and truly be productive and that is indeed what mornings are for.

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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