Having a solid morning routine is one of the best ways to increase your productivity and improve your overall well-being.
My morning routine was in need of a serious overhaul. I went through a phase where I rolled over and checked my phone before I got out of bed. I just had to know what I had missed while I slept. You may be able to relate. Many of us start our days by checking our emails and social media, but this might not be the best thing for us.1
Starting our morning off incorrectly can drain our productivity. The typical work day lasts for eight hours, but we all know that our energy fluctuates during the day. 2 You may start your day feeling perky, but as the day wears on, you might find yourself in need of a nap. You have to make the most of periods of high energy.
Learn to work when your mind is at its sharpest
Benjamin Hardy’s “This Morning Routine will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week” offers helpful insights about the best ways to make the most of our time. The basic premise is that you are at your sharpest and most energetic first thing in the morning. Many people do not make full use of this productivity window.
How much work you did actually means nothing. What you did is key
It can be tempting to start your day by ticking a number of items of minor importance or your checklist. The problem is that by the time you dig yourself out from under a mountain of small tasks, you’ll probably be tired. This makes it so much harder to do the bigger and more important things on your list.
For example, checking 100 emails might feel like you are being productive, but they’re just keeping you busy. Try doing one high-value action item first thing in the morning, and save those emails for later.
Plan your first three hours carefully because you are at your productivity peak
Provided that we’ve had enough sleep, our minds are at their freshest within the first three hours of waking. When you take full advantage of this productivity window, you’ll be able to do better quality work in less time.
If you save your most important work for the afternoon, you put yourself at a disadvantage. By then, you are already tired, and it will take more effort for you to get the same results that you could easily get in the morning.
It helps to start out by plotting out the tasks that you have to do and prioritizing your schedule. David Allen’s Getting Things Done method is one of the best productivity models for helping you prioritize and organize.3
Allen’s method is simple. Write down the items that need your attention, decide which pieces you need to work on yourself, which ones can be delegated, and which ones are not actionable. After you’ve determined what you need to do, break big projects into smaller steps, set deadlines to prioritize action items, and execute.
At Lifehack, we love using the Getting Things Done method. You can read more about how we’ve implemented it from Brian Lee4 and CM Smith. 5
Never underestimate the power of your rest and recovery, they determine large part of your productivity tomorrow
So many of us have been brought up to believe that tireless work and constant availability are the hallmarks of a great employee. In fact, failing to unplug from work can be detrimental to your health, happiness, and work.
“When you’re at work, be fully absorbed. When it’s time to call it a day, completely detach yourself from work and become absorbed in the other areas of your life.”
When you are working, engage completely in whatever you are doing. When it’s time to come home, refrain from checking your email or taking late calls. You need the time to unwind so that you don’t burn out.
When you come back to work after keeping your free time sacred, you’ll be better equipped to tackle challenges. You won’t dread your job, you’ll be less likely to procrastinate, and you’ll be more effective.
It’s time to adopt a new morning routine
If you’re squandering your most productive times by playing with your phone like I was, it’s time for a morning routine overhaul. Before I read, “This Morning Routine will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week” I didn’t realize how much time I was wasting.
Instead of spending my first three hours scrolling through my Facebook and clearing my inbox, I start my day with mindfulness. I have a healthy breakfast, take my dog for a 20-minute walk, where I think about and prioritize my schedule, and then I get to work right away.
I’ve noticed that I can work for a solid three to five hours by putting aside menial task until later in the day. When I do stop to take a break, I disconnect completely for a few minutes. Even if my day stopped here, I can already say that I accomplished a great deal.
I worry about my emails and social media after I’ve worked solidly on a high-priority project for at least three hours. Since those tasks don’t require too much creativity or deep-thinking, I can do them when my energy is lower without making any sacrifices.
Changing my routine has made it easier to get more done
Rethinking my morning routine has enabled me to get more out of short periods of intense focus than I used to get out of working a full eight hours. Since I end my work days feeling like I have accomplished a lot, I don’t feel any guilt over taking the time to recover when I go home. I commit to rest and relaxation with the same zeal that I pursue my priorities at work.
Hardy’s method has restored balance to my schedule. I feel a greater sense of satisfaction from the work that I do, and I’m present in every situation in a way that I simply wasn’t before.
Benjamin Hardy’s work philosophy in “This Morning Routine will Save You 20+ Hours Per Week” will save you time and make you feel a greater sense of accomplishment at the end of your day.