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Multi-Tasking Your Morning – 15 Steps to Boost Productivity Before You Start Your Day

Multi-Tasking Your Morning – 15 Steps to Boost Productivity Before You Start Your Day


    It’s amazing how a morning can suck minutes or even hours away from your day before you even open your eyes completely.

    Fortunately, it’s easy to get time back in the morning – all you need to do is get organized and utilize some new efficiencies. Of course, before you can establish new patterns, you need to figure out what patterns you’ve already established – and that is the first step to a properly multi-tasked morning.

    Step 1: Establish Current Routine

    Before you can make any changes to your current routine, you need to know what it is. Start by taking notice of how you spend your time. Do you reset the alarm a few times? Do you sit in the kitchen and wait for the coffee to brew? Jot down the steps you take and the times that you actually do these things.

    Step 2: Decide What’s Most Important

    What’s the point of being efficient if you’re not able to enjoy the time you’re saving. If there is something in your morning routine that you feel you simply can’t live without, it needs to be identified and considered sacred. For example, if you really need to snooze at least once in the morning, that ten minute sleep snack can be preserved. Likewise the cup of coffee and headline grazing.

    Step 3: Make a List

    Now that you know what you’re doing, make a list of the things that must be done in the morning. It may be as simple as: wake up, bathroom, coffee, shower, dressed, check emails, and leave for work. Some lists are much more complicated with exercise, dog walking and meditation thrown in.

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    Step 4: Consider Overlap

    If you wash your hair in the morning and you have to let it sit in curlers for a few minutes, why not use that few minutes for something else in your routine? For example, rather than brushing your teeth and flossing before your shower, switch and shower first. Then, with your hair set, brush and floss. You just saved five minutes!

    Step 5: Eliminate Snooze

    If your morning routine includes setting snooze at least once, you’re adding ten minutes onto your day. It’s likely you’ve already added the extra time to the beginning of day – setting the alarm at 5:50 instead of 6, for example, to accommodate the extra time. If not, either stop the snooze habit or adjust your morning wake-up time to allow it. Thinking about waking up earlier just to hit snooze takes most of the fun out of it anyhow.

    Step 6: Automate Your Coffee

    If you’re a coffee drinker, splurge in a programmable coffeemaker. (Usually this isn’t a big splurge – less than $30.) Then, set up the grounds, set the timer and make it a new routine before bed. With a programmable coffee pot, your coffee will be ready and waiting when you wake up or when you get out of the shower – whichever pleases you most.

    Step 7: Find Simple Breakfast Items

    While it’s fun to cook yourself breakfast in the morning and even more fun to grab food on the way to work, you’re actually not saving yourself any time by stopping in a drive through. It usually takes at least five minutes to get a drive-through order and then you have to find time to eat it while commuting. Simple breakfast items that can be cooked in the toaster or microwave take only a few minutes and can be munched before you walk out the door or while you drive.

    Step 8: Buy Travel Cups

    Rather than sipping and savoring your coffee in the morning, take it with you. Making coffee at home (in your new programmable coffee pot!) and then taking it with you will not only save you plenty of money compared to the local coffee shop, but it will also save you serious amounts of time as well.

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    That’s another five to ten minutes added back to your morning commute. There are disposable travel cups available in the grocery store complete with lids, much like the coffee shop’s version, or you can go green with a few insulated cups that you bring home and wash.

    Step 9: Shave in the Shower

    The shower is a great place to save time if you’re willing to break lifetime routines. For example, shaving in the shower can cut out a few extra minutes over shaving after the shower. Buy a special shaving mirror for the shower and keep your soap handy. Lather up and shave toward the end of your shower, rinse and you’re ready! Ladies can do the same, only they might save some extra time by shaving their legs while they wait a few minutes for the conditioner to set after a shampoo.

    Step 10: Stop Shampooing

    If you have medium to long hair, you don’t need to wash your hair every day. In fact, washing your hair every day can actually make it overly dry and lead to split ends. You can save yourself some time every other morning by simply shampooing every other day. On the days you don’t shampoo, you can pin your hair up and keep it dry or rinse it with warm water.

    Step 11: Stop Showering

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    For most of us a shower in the morning is a staple. But does it have to be? You would save a substantial amount of time in the morning if you stopped showering before you leave for work. Of course that means you’ll need to shower at another point in your day – perhaps after your lunch workout or in the evenings before bed.

    Step 12: Stop Your Paper Subscription

    Normally you might linger ten minutes or so over the paper while you eat your breakfast or drink your coffee. It would be far better, however, to stop your paper subscription and simply read the news on your device or listen to the news of the world on the radio on your way to work. This is true multitasking – sipping coffee, driving to work and getting all of your news at the same time.

    Step 13: Eliminate Driving

    This is a tossup for many individuals, but if you’re able to carpool to work or ride in on a train, you gain back a huge amount of time that you’d normally have to spend focused on the road. If you’re riding on the train, for example, you can read the headlines, check your emails, get your horoscope, eat your breakfast and sip the coffee you brought from home all before you arrive at work.

    Step 14: Go Mobile

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    If you’re still using an alarm clock to wake up and your desktop to check emails, you’re not using the latest timesaving technology. Use your phone as your alarm clock. Then, when it goes off, snatch it up to turn off the alarm and go ahead and skim through your emails before you actually even get out of bed. You’ll save the time booting your computer if you normally check emails in the morning, and you’ll use those first few minutes of wake up time more productively.

    Step 15: Mesh Schedules

    If you’re sharing a bathroom, all of your efficiencies are completely wasted if your roommate or partner isn’t on something of a schedule, too. Be very clear about the times that you need the bathroom and if the times overlap between the two of you, rearrange your schedule, adjust your wake-up time or simply flip a coin to make it all work. Otherwise it’s all for naught!

    (Photo credit: Girl Opens Curtains via Shutterstock)

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      Last Updated on October 22, 2019

      How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

      How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

      We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

      With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

      So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

      1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

      Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

      So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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      You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

      If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

      Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

      2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

      Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

      Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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      Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

      Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

      3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

      If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

      This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

      Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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      When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

      If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

      Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

      4. Get up and Move

      We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

      When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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      If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

      Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

      It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

      Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

      The Bottom Line

      It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

      Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

      More Resources About Boosting Focus and Productivity

      Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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