8 Steps to Having Wildly Productive Mornings

willspring55, December 30, 2013

8 Steps to Having Wildly Productive Mornings

By J Clear

You’ll wake up for about 25,000 mornings in your adult life, give or take a few.

According to a report from
the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy in the
United States is 79 years old. Most people in wealthy nations are
hovering around the 80–year mark. Women in Japan are the highest, with
an average life expectancy of 86 years.

If we use these average life expectancy numbers and assume
that your adult life starts at 18 years old, then you’ve got about 68
years as an adult. (86 – 18 = 68) Perhaps a little less on average. A
little more if you’re lucky.

(68 years as an adult) x (365 days each year) = 24,820 days.

Once I realized this, I started thinking about how I could develop a
better morning routine. I still have a lot to learn, but here are some
strategies that you can use to get the most out of your 25,000 mornings.

Here are eight strategies that I’ve found to be most effective for getting the most out of my morning:

1. Manage your energy, not your time.
If you take a moment to think about it, you’ll probably realize that you
are better at doing certain tasks at certain times. For example, my
creative energy is highest in the morning, so that’s when I do my
writing each day.

By comparison, I block out my afternoons for interviews, phone calls,
and emails. I don’t need my creative energy to be high for those tasks,
so that’s the best time for me to get them done. And I tend to have my
best workouts in the late afternoon or early evening, so that’s when I
head to the gym.

What type of energy do you have in the morning? What task is that energy best suited for?

2. Prepare the night before.
I don’t do this nearly as often as I should, but if you only do one
thing each day then spend a few minutes each night organizing your to–do
list for tomorrow. When I do it right, I’ll outline the article I’m
going to write the next day and develop a short list of the most
important items for me to accomplish. It takes 10 minutes that night and
saves 3 hours the next day.

3. Don’t open email until noon.
Sounds simple. Nobody does it. It took me awhile to get over the urge to
open my inbox, but eventually I realized that everything can wait a few
hours. Nobody is going to email you about a true emergency (a death in
the family, etc.), so leave your email alone for the first few hours of
each day. Use the morning to do what’s important rather than responding
to what is “urgent.”

4. Turn your phone off and leave it in another room.
Or on your colleagues desk. Or at the very least, put it somewhere that
is out of sight. This eliminates the urge to check text messages,
Facebook, Twitter, and so on. This simple strategy eliminates the
likelihood of slipping into half–work where you waste time dividing your attention among meaningless tasks.

5. Work in a cool place.
Have you ever noticed how you feel groggy and sluggish in a hot room?
Turning the temperature down or moving to a cooler place is an easy way
to focus your mind and body. (Hat tip to Michael Hyatt for this one.)

6. Sit up or stand up.
Your mind needs oxygen to work properly. Your lungs need to be able to
expand and contract to fill your body with oxygen. That sounds simple
enough, but here’s the problem: most people sit hunched over while
staring at a screen and typing.

When you sit hunched over, your chest is in a collapsed position and
your diaphragm is pressing against the bottom of your lungs, which
hinders your ability to breathe easily and deeply. Sit up straight or
stand up and you’ll find that you can breathe easier and more fully. As a
result, your brain will get more oxygen and you’ll be able to
concentrate better.

(Small tip: When sitting, I usually place a pillow in the small of my
back. This prevents my lower back from rounding, which keeps me more

7. Eat as a reward for working hard.
I practice intermittent fasting, which means that I eat my first meal
around noon each day. I’ve been doing this for almost two years. There
are plenty of health benefits.

But health is just one piece of the puzzle. I also fast because it
allows me to get more out of my day. Take a moment to think about how
much time people spend each day thinking, planning, and consuming food.
By adopting intermittent fasting, I don’t waste an hour each morning
figuring out what to eat for breakfast, cooking it, and cleaning up.
Instead, I use my morning to work on things that are important to me.
Then, I eat good food and big meals as a reward for working hard.

8. Develop a “pre–game routine” to start your day.
My morning routine starts by pouring a cold glass of water. Some people
kick off their day with ten minutes of meditation. Similarly, you should
have a sequence that starts your morning ritual. This tiny routine
signals to your brain that it’s time to get into work mode or exercise
mode or whatever mode you need to be in to accomplish your task.
Additionally, a pre–game routine helps you overcome a lack of motivation
and get things done even when you don’t feel like it.

The Power of a Morning Routine

Just as it’s rare for anyone to experience overnight success, it’s
also rare for our lives crumble to pieces in an instant. Most
unproductive or unhealthy behaviors are the result of slow, gradual
choices that add up to bad habits. A wasted morning here. An
unproductive morning there.

The good news is that exceptional results are also the result of
consistent daily choices. Nowhere is this more true than with your
morning routine. The way you start your day is often the way that you
finish it.

Take, for example, Jack LaLanne.
He woke up each day at 4am and spent the first 90 minutes lifting
weights. Then, he went for a swim or a run for the next 30 minutes. For
more than 60 years, he spent each morning doing this routine. In
addition to being one of the most influential people in fitness in the
last 100 years, LaLanne also lived to the ripe old age of 96.

This is no coincidence. What you do each morning is an indicator of
how you approach your entire day. It’s the choices that we repeatedly
make that determine the life we live, the health we enjoy, and the work
we create.

You’ve got 25,000 mornings. What will you do with each one?

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