The first hour of work can either make or break your day. That’s right – what you do during this initial 60 minutes on the clock will often define all the presentations, strategy sessions and creative executions you do over the next eight (plus) hours. Let’s take a quick look at the ways successful people spend this hour, so you can emulate and win the day by winning the morning.
The Prework Morning
While this article is about productivity, it doesn’t include tactics for being productive when you first get out of bed. If you’re looking for a guide to winning the morning before getting to work, check out this podcast from Tim Ferriss, author of “The 4-Hour Workweek.”
Start Your Morning the Night Before
The best time to prepare for your morning is the day before. Spend some time thinking/meditating on your goals, both short and long term. From there, consider the tactics needed to make that happen.
Kenneth Chenault, former American Express CEO, writes down a list of the top three things he wants to accomplish the next day before leaving his office. By doing this, he has a plan that he can focus on immediately when he gets to work the next morning.
This is not the time to write down 100 things that would be nice to accomplish in the future. Instead, list the top three to five most important, game-changing goals for the day. This will help you prioritize and give you the ability to hit the ground running when you get to work the next day. Preparation is the most affective life hack for your mornings.
When your first get to the office, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the multitude of tasks that are thrown your way. Before you jump into the hustle and bustle, spend a few minutes visualizing what you’re going to do with your day. Think about the things that would make this day a success and then visualize yourself completing these tasks and goals. Start by looking at your list from the day before.
According to Craig Curelop, a financial analyst at BiggerPockets.com, visualizing can be done in different ways. “Some people create a bulletin board and pin pictures of their desires to the board,” Curelop said. “I personally shut my eyes and visualize myself achieving both my short- and long-term goals. This keeps the fire burning.”
Simply having a healthy mindset will do wonders for your morning.
Where There’s a Will
In an interview with the Harvard Business Review, psychologist Ron Friedman explains that the first three hours of the day are the optimum time for getting things done. “We’re able to have some strong contributions in terms of planning, in terms of thinking, in terms of speaking well,” said Friedman.
Because of this, the mornings are the best time of the day to complete high-value tasks. While they’ll vary from job to job, these tasks are the ones that require problem-solving, concentration and creativity, such as writing an article, writing code or studying market research.
The rest of the day can then be reserved for tasks that require less brainpower, such as making calls, tidying up your desk or inserting data into a spreadsheet. While these tasks are also important, you can get them done even when you’re not feeling at your prime. They’re the perfect to-dos for your midafternoon slump.
Wait to Eat
Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? There’s a growing trend of intermittent fasting happening among productivity gurus, celebrities (like Beyoncé and Hugh Jackman), athletes and biohackers. Intermittent fasting refers to the practice of regularly cycling between fasting and eating. Some studies have shown a wide range of benefits to intermittent fasting, such as increased focus, weight loss, increased metabolic health and potentially an increase to our lifespans. There are several different methods to intermittent fasting, but one of the most popular is eating for eight hours of the day and fasting for 16.
So instead of reaching for the nearest donut in the morning, it may make sense for you to complete your high-value activities first.
If you can’t imagine a world where you don’t have a bite to eat in the morning, stick with fruits, veggies and lean proteins; stay away from carbs that will leave you feeling foggy before noon.
A Cup of Ambition
While it may not make sense to eat during the first hour of work, a cup of coffee can have some great benefits that boost your productivity during the day. According to medical writer Stephen Braun, caffeine blocks receptors for adenosine, which is a compound in your brain that gives you the feeling of sleepiness. As Braun explains, having caffeine is like “putting a block of wood under one of the brain’s primary brake pedals.”
For some, though, coffee before breakfast can feel harsh on an empty stomach. For those sensitive to coffee, consider going with tea, which typically has less caffeine than coffee.
Ditch the Email
The average person checks their email a whopping 74 times a day. Life hack gurus around the globe – from Tim Ferriss to Julie Morgenstern (author of the oh so subtle book “Never Check Email in the Morning”) – agree that we should resist the inbox when we first get to work. The thought process behind this is that your email is a pit of distractions. And instead of setting goals or starting projects, you’ll likely spend your day being reactionary. Stop playing whack-a-mole with your email. Set it aside until you’ve finished your morning routine.
Start the Morning Right
When starting your morning, a lot of your routine will depend on your personal preferences. But these tips and tricks can help you get your motors running during the first part of the day. Mornings are important. Make a plan to get the most out of your first 60 minutes in the office.
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