The other day I read “6 Things You Should Never Do First Thing in the Morning” by Jeff Haden in Inc., who is one of my favorite authors in that magazine.
Here are the highlights of recommended key things not to do as part of your morning routine:
1. Don’t plan out your day.
Trying to plan your work first thing in the morning or when you get to work can have unintended consequences resulting in a complete waste of time. The mere act of doing this results in stress and anxiety as your list piles up. As you rush to finish the list so you can actually work, you might even wind up prioritizing easy, administrative tasks over more important yet complex items (e.g. cash-flow generating activities). Going through the motions and being unprepared is never a good thing.
Instead, come ready to play and commit to the following:
- Prepare and prioritize your to-do list at the end of your prior workday.
- Determine the single most important thing you need to accomplish tomorrow.
- Get your workspace and all needed materials ready for tomorrow the night before.
Doing so will create massive momentum in the mornings and tee you up for maximum focus and goal attainment.
2. Don’t make unimportant decisions.
Why spend time agonizing over trivial decisions? Every extra choice you consider or decision that you have to make overwhelms your brain and takes up time.
A better approach to free up your brain power and ensure you’re at peak mental focus at all times is to:
- Eliminate non-important decision points (e.g. – if it doesn’t make you more profitable, increase your productivity, or improve the quality of your life or one of your business outputs, then stop fixating on it and move on).
- Automate and expedite simple, recurring decisions (e.g. – get into a routine for what you eat and what you wear).
3. Don’t forget to exercise.
The reason it’s ideal for exercise to occur in the early morning is because:
- It puts you in a better mood for the next 12 hours.
- It increases your energy levels.
Being happier and having more stamina throughout the day empowers you to get more done.
4. Don’t forget to include protein in your first meal.
Consuming 30 grams of protein with breakfast is recommended since it:
- Maintains blood-sugar levels.
- Curbs your appetite and prevents hunger attacks.
You’ll be energized, healthier, and less distracted.
5. Don’t forget to take the right breaks.
Regardless of how intelligent or mentally focused you are, you can only operate at a high level for so long. The sooner you understand and abide by that principle, the more productive you will become. Even if you are a “morning person” as opposed to a “night owl,” you have to factor this into your morning routing prep and execution.
Try taking opportune breaks as outlined below:
- Recognize that after 90 to 120 minutes, you lose focus…you’re not alone.
- Strategically take 15-20 minute breaks to recharge for your next big task.
- Instead of planning and plotting your workday as a typical 8 or 10 hour day, break it down into five 90-minute windows with occasional short breaks sprinkled in so you can refuel and/or knock out some quick, mindless tasks.
6. Don’t stick blindly to the same morning routine.
Now, this advice may seem counter-intuitive…The point is if your routine is working, stick with it. If it’s not, adjust. Life happens and new family duties and business commitments will arise. Though sticking to a routine that works is the goal, you’ll have to constantly test and adapt as your business grows.
Lastly, not everyone will have the same morning routine. Nevertheless, most prefer to have a better one, and I hope you can incorporate some of these “not to do list” recommendations into your morning routine and get your day going on the right foot.
What aspect of your morning routine would you like to improve?
What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve ever received to kickstart your mornings, attack the day, and maintain momentum throughout?
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