Is your morning a series of bad decisions that could be hurting your career? Hitting the snooze button. Checking Facebook supine. Rushing to work, only to spend the first few hours responding to emails. Before you know it, it’s noon, and you’re not sure what you accomplished.
Even if you’re not a morning person, there are a few things you can do to be more productive during a time when many experts say you’re naturally at your peak.
Avoid Checking Email at Two Key Times
Practice discipline with your email, and you’ll be more focused and more productive. While some people argue that getting email out of the way first thing helps them focus for the rest of the day, grabbing your phone while in bed can lead to immediate stress and distraction. When you wake up and dive directly into e-mails or Facebook, you’re far more likely to lose focus, and your morning succumbs to the wants and needs of other people. When you think of it that way, it’s easier to see those precious waking moments as “me time.”
Extend that willpower once you get to work, but especially during a two-hour period of time when you’re most productive. A neuroscience-based study by the University of Michigan found that the adult brain focuses best between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. That’s when moderate levels of the stress hormone cortisol kick in. If you’re checking your email constantly at work then, you’re not giving your brain the chance to concentrate at the time it does its best work. So, if you want to maximize your productivity each day, avoid email from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Even if you’re not a morning person, there are things you can do to be more productive at your peak.
Do Something You Enjoy
Whether you like to go for an early morning jog or read the newspaper over breakfast, kick off the day with something you enjoy, recommends Adam Toren, co-founder of Young Entrepreneur.
If you have something to look forward to, you’re more likely to want to get out of bed. Sure, not every day is as exciting as Christmas morning, but if you rework your morning to include something you truly love, you’re less likely to hit snooze three times. The key is finding a strong sense of purpose, said Dr. Partha Nandi, creator and host of the internationally syndicated medical lifestyle television show, Ask Dr. Nandi.
“Anyone can start the day with a sense of purpose and excitement,” Nandi wrote for Today.com. “All you have to do is give each morning purpose.”
Prep the Night Before
If you’re simply not a morning person, get some of your morning routine out of the way by doing it the night before. Grind your coffee beans and set the coffeemaker the night before. You may feel like you’re in third grade, but pick out your outfit the night before, too.
When you’re less hurried — and even if you’re still sleepy — doing some preparation at night lessens the chance you’ll leave home the next morning wearing one black shoe and one blue shoe. How you start your mornings can make or break your day, so look for ways to make positive changes to your morning routine.
Strategize Right Away
Before you get sucked into email and meetings, devote the first few minutes of each day to a strategic planning session. Ron Friedman, a psychologist and author of The Best Place to Work – The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace, told Harvard Business Review that we have a window of about three hours in the morning when we’re really productive. (Sound familiar? See tip No. 1 above.) So starting with a brief planning session is one way to make sure you’re not squandering the most productive time of the day.
So, prep the night before, bound out of bed to do something you love, spend a few minutes planning your day, and you’ll see your productivity soar.
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