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Your Mornings Can Make the Difference

Ryan Bryant on August 25, 2017

Your Mornings Can Make the Difference
How you start your morning can affect the entire trajectory of your day. We've all had one of those stressful mornings where you oversleep or your alarm doesn't go off, which results in a panicked rush to get ready and out the door. If that were to happen to you on a daily basis, how would it affect your stress levels and your productivity in the office? You'd likely be a nervous wreck all the time and have trouble getting much work done. Mornings can be a chance to start the day peacefully and productively; many of us just aren't taking advantage of the opportunity.

In her book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, Laura Vanderkam argues that our mornings need a makeover to help us be at our best. "We all have 168 hours a week," she writes. "But not all hours are equally suited to all things." For example, when you first wake up, you're in a calmer place—you're not in the office and you aren't yet overwhelmed by emails, calls, and meetings. In this moment of calm, you can find opportunities to get a head start on your day and make the most of your time by tackling some simpler tasks. The benefits are twofold: not only have you already crossed some items off your to-do list at the start of your day, but you're also giving yourself some breathing room if an emergency pops up, or if you've got a substantial project that requires a lot of your time and focus. 

Vanderkam points out that some of the most productive and successful business people use the early morning hours to start the day with a win, which then inherently leads to other wins throughout the day. If you complete one task first thing in the morning, you're set on a trajectory of success that carries throughout your workday. If you make a habit of this, it can completely transform the way you approach work. Starting off in a panic, or waiting until the last minute to tackle a problem only exacerbates stress and negatively affects the quality of your work long-term.

Even if you aren't necessarily interested in jumping into your work first thing in the morning, there are other ways to focus on your own needs, which can positively affect you throughout the course of the day. An hour in the morning focused on meditation, prayer, exercise, journaling, etc. can provide you with a positive jumping-off point and allows you to work calmly and steadily instead of in a frazzled panic.

An example of making life easier on yourself: write down your to-do list for the day first thing in the morning, or the night before if you prefer. That way, you've got an immediate set of tasks to focus on when you get to work. This is especially beneficial for those of us who aren't necessarily "morning people" and have trouble finding focus until the caffeine kicks in.

Another problem is that by mid-afternoon, many workers have already checked out for the day. Several studies have found this to be true, but we've also seen it anecdotally at Levant. For example, we get the highest response from our social media accounts at around 3pm or later, when people are likely avoiding work tasks by checking Facebook or Twitter.

Speaking of social media, save it for later; it can ruin your morning. Challenge yourself NOT to check Facebook or LinkedIn first thing. Reading about the mundane details of another person's life or business likely won't motivate and inspire. Why not listen to an informative podcast, or subscribe to an affirming daily newsletter instead? By focusing on your needs early in the morning, you can create a better, happier, and more productive workday for yourself.

What can you do to start your day off on a high note? What's something that brings you joy you can dive into before heading to work? Take advantage of those still hours and you'll begin to consistently see the benefits. 

For more information on early morning success, check out Laura Vanderkam's book here.

Here's to your future great mornings!

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