The way you start your day can have a huge impact on your productivity. Over the past few months, I’ve been experimenting with creating a “morning ritual,” which is a collection of energizing and motivational procedures to get me ready for the day.
I’ve tried several combinations of activities, and although I haven’t formulated the magic elixir just yet, I wanted to share some of the procedures that I’ve found most impactful.
This first activity is almost a non-activity, meaning that it’s something that I don’t do. What I’m striving not to do (although I’m not perfect at this yet) is checking my e-mail for the first three hours of the day. Then, after focusing on my top priorities for the first three hours of the day, I’ll check my e-mail at about 11:00 AM. Then, I close my e-mail application and don’t check it again until around 4:00 PM. Of course, if your job is customer service or help desk related, you might not have this luxury. It might very well be your job to keep on top of your e-mails.
However, for many people (including me) it’s more important to have a focused block of time to work on their priorities, instead of being sucked into the “urgencies” of others. But I’ve got to admit, this is HARD for me to do. With my OCD personality, having a glaring red circle on my iPhone proclaiming the number of unread messages creates tremendous urgency in my body. I feel compelled to deal with each and every one of those immediately. So, what I’ve done is use a different e-mail app (Microsoft Outlook for iPhone) that doesn’t generate notifications when new e-mail arrives. Also, I moved my e-mail app off of the home screen of my iPhone to keep from seeing it. On my desktop computer, I simply don’t launch the e-mail app. What I’ve found is that my productivity really spikes during those windows of time when I’m not checking my e-mail, because the siren’s call of e-mail dings is silenced.
We all differ in our current level of physical health, activity, and fitness. However, if your Dr. says it’s safe for you to do so, you might want to consider adding a block of time to exercise during your morning routine. Personally, I get up around 5:00 AM, and one of my first activities is to get on the treadmill for about 30 minutes. (Currently, I’m going through the “Couch to 5k” training program.) This is a great time to watch instructional videos. For others, hitting the weights hard at the gym might do the trick. Whatever you do though, getting the blood and oxygen flowing first thing of a morning can help you start your workday with a bit of extra momentum.
Recently, I’ve been scheduling 30 minute blocks of reading time in the morning. Sometimes I read a personal development book. Sometimes it’s a devotional study. Sometimes it’s my daughter’s college Physics or Statistics text book (so I can help her study… and who are we kidding; that stuff is awesome). But whatever I read seems to get me into a “learning mode,” where I can more easily figure out the next technical challenge the day brings.
That’s it! If you’ll get up about an hour early each day (divided into blocks of time where you read and exercise), followed by focusing on your top priority for the first three hours of the day (before you check e-mail), I predict that you’ll have a dramatic increase in productivity.
Kevin Wallace, CCIEx2 (R/S and Collaboration) #7945, CCSI 20061
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