I recently attended a healthcare conference. At a break out session, a successful author and consultant mentioned that given that we were all inundated with so much information, she used the hours of 4am and 6am to read industry newsletters to stay abreast of what was happening in the industry. You could hear people gasp in the audience.
Each of us has the same 24 hours in a day. What every successful person will tell you, is what they do with the first few hours of the day, makes a tremendous difference in what separates them from the pack.
Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People do Before Breakfast wrote "Indeed, learning to use mornings well is, in our distracted world, what separates achievement from madness. Before the rest of the world is eating breakfast, the most successful people have already scored daily victories that are advancing them toward the lives they want."
“Seizing your mornings is the equivalent of that sound financial advice to pay yourself first. If you wait until the end of the month to save what you have left, there will be nothing left over. Likewise, if you wait until the end of the day to do meaningful but not urgent things like exercise, pray, read, ponder how to advance your career or grow your organization, or truly give your family your best, it probably won’t happen.”
Let's start with two of the fundamentals of making the most of your morning.
- Exercise: Ok, we know and you know, you should exercise for the obvious health benefits, but there is more. When you move it increases your brain function and your stress levels decrease. If you make exercising in the morning a habit, that energy will carry over into your business day.
- Eat a healthy breakfast. If you can make exercise part of your routine, it will motivate you to eat better, because you need to fuel your body and your brain. Remember that saying "You are what you eat?" Food high in sugar and carbohydrates, i.e that chocolate covered donut or muffin will slow you down. Proteins and grains will provide a constant flow of energy throughout the day. Have an egg white omelet with some spinach and whole grain bread and you won't need that 10am pick me up snack. You will set the pace to fuel yourself for the rest of the day.
Moving on towards increasing productivity at work.
- Get the Important Things Done First. Those first hours represent the time when you are most rested and you are operating at peak performance. Use these early hours to tackle the important things that need to get done and require the most concentration.
- Tackle emails: This advice comes from Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. "I can tell you from personal experience that e-mails will absolutely dominate your life if you can’t manage your inbox. If you fall behind, important messages can get lost in the pile -- and that can have real consequences." Respond to what you need to, delete the rest, and then you can move on to other tasks that need to be tackled that day.
- Take advantage of the commute. While you may not like commuting, that time can be used to simply think and plan. If you're driving, spend time thinking about a strategy for the 10 am meeting so its more focused and productive or your approach to dealing with a colleague or employee. If you use public transportation, you can use that time to make your "To Do" list so you're focused and ready to hit the ground running once you get in.
- Organize your day. Your day is packed with meetings and deadlines and the work still needs to get done. So spend those first hours focusing on what you need to accomplish to be successful, cancel meetings that are time wasters, and don't get distracted by all the "noise" that may be in your workplace. If your boss walks in with a new project, sure you have to refocus. But that is more the exception than the rule. Don't let what can be done tomorrow interfere with today's goals and objectives, otherwise you're always playing catch-up.
As you can probably tell, there is a theme here. It's about discipline and commitment to setting yourself up for success. A few key changes can help you achieve your goals.
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