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.
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.
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.
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?
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.