I was perfectly happy – and productive – staying up late into the night to study and sleeping in until nine or ten in the morning. Then my first full time job came along. It was a tough adjustment.
Not only did I have to learn to wake up early, but I had to learn how to be productive during those early morning hours. After a lot of a trial-and-error I found ways to make the most of my mornings. I came up with 11 techniques that will work for almost anyone.
I may not be a morning person, but I am proud to say that I can hang with the earliest of the early worms. So, if you’re anything like me and are looking to break unhealthy habits and start eating your frog in the early hours of the day, try out some of these tips for kick-starting your morning routine.
1. Get Up Early
Probably not what you want to hear, but getting up earlier has multiple benefits. Time is precious, and in the early hours you're much less likely to be bothered by others wanting your attention.
For those who work around their families, waking up before they do guarantees you time to focus on work before your family needs you. Many famous CEOs wake up well before 6am, so it's a habit worth emulating.
2. Make a Schedule and Stick To It
When we're busy, it's easy to become stressed and overwhelmed by what we have to do. To combat this, create a schedule in the morning for your day, built around when you feel it's easier to do certain tasks. For example, you might find it easier to do creative tasks earlier in the morning, so you can schedule them before noon. Plan your time, and stick to that plan.
3. Do Easy Tasks Early
If you find it difficult to get started in the mornings, plan to tackle one or two simpler, easy tasks when you start work. Doing so will help you feel as if you've achieved something, and then you'll have more motivation to move on to more complex tasks.
4. Tackle That One Difficult Task First (AKA Eat a Frog)
Alternatively, it may be better to deal with that one nagging item on your to do list that you've been putting off. Mark Twain said, “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, that will probably be the worst thing you do all day,” and he wasn't wrong. Deal with the event you're dreading first, and the rest of the day will be much easier.
5. Turn Your Phone Off
Smartphones are wonderful devices, but they're also ultimate distraction machines. It's hard to concentrate on work when you're busy checking social media or fiddling around with games on the side. Switch it off and put it away; you can always come back to it later.
6. Read the News - But Only Once
For similar reasons, it's worth reading the news in the morning and then leaving it alone. Reading the news in the morning is a good way of kick-starting your brain and finding out what's going on in the world. However, it's very tempting to keep checking back for updates on events, especially in an age of 24-hour reporting, but resist. Instead, stick to one popular news source for all of your information and get it all in the AM.
7. Reward Yourself
If you finish a task by lunch, don't forget to reward yourself. Even if it's just a walk to the corner and back to get a cup of coffee, make sure you make time for yourself once you've achieved a goal.
8. Have a Positive Attitude
If you go into your work day stressed out, thinking you'll never get anything done, it'll become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you go in with a positive attitude, achieving your goals will be much simpler. Similarly, avoid people in the workplace who complain about their workloads without attempting to solve their problems. Their attitude will only weigh you down.
9. Use the Time to Network
Workday lunches can be an interruption to your schedule, and evening drinks can veer very much off topic after a couple of cocktails. If you meet up with colleagues in the morning for a coffee, you can get much more accomplished.
10. Check Your Email
Check your inbox early on and deal with emails as you open them. Resist the urge to hit “Mark as Unread” and vow to deal with it later; if it can be answered, take the time to do it and clear it out of your inbox. Once they're done, you can leave your inbox while you work, without the thought of what's waiting in it hanging over you.
11. Stop Multitasking
Finally, try to only do one thing at once. Research has shown multitasking can slow you down by as much as 40%, since you're really only switching from one to the other and preventing yourself from getting into a good workflow.
Mornings truly are the golden period for productivity, as you're fresh and ready for the day before all the distractions and requests for your attention come piling in. Make the alarm clock your friend and squeeze the most out of your working day.
Which idea do you think you would share with a team member? Why would you share it?
Focus is important to a great team. What could you add to the list that would help you and your team have more productive mornings?