Donna's Blog

Win the morning, win the day

Whether you are a morning person (early bird) or an evening person (night owl) it’s likely that you still have to show up to an office or workplace according to routine hours.  And for about 80% of us, it's expected to be a 9am to 5pm work day.  I know many of you now are reading this and saying, “I wish!”.  It’s more likely your day is something like 8am to 6pm. 

Either way, this means that the organisations paying our wages are expecting us to be “on” from at least 9am, whether you identify as an early bird or night owl.  The good news is, that irrespective of our preference, what we all have in common is that our minds are generally more charged and ready to go in the morning (after a good night’s sleep). And that we are likely to be more productive in the first couple of hours of our work day.

If we are conscious of this, we can organise our day so that we use our most productive time on our most important work.  Daniel Dowling found this, and wrote about it in an article I read recently in Fast Company.  By switching up how he spent his day, and what he did first thing in the morning, he found his productivity increased and his satisfaction with his work also improved. 

His motto:  “Win the morning, win the day”.

I reckon we could all take a good look at what we habitually do, and what we believe is important to do in the morning.  Many of us operate on a default mode (emails) when we first start work for the day. 

It is important to note that email has become a habit and in many cases an addiction.  It is not necessarily your most important work.

I wonder what would happen if you decided to do the most important things first up, and did email later in the day.  For example, a slide deck you need to prepare for an important presentation, or a white paper or report, or some research or reading on an important topic (eg, future of work).  Stephen Covey in his classic 7 Habits, talks about First Things First and getting your “big rocks” scheduled before the “pebbles” take over the day. If you’re unfamiliar, watch his “Big Rocks” video here.

Charles Duhigg talks about keystone habits that have a tremendous impact on your day.  These things include exercise, eating a good breakfast and possibly least obvious, making your bed in the mornings.  I’m serious!  Studies cited in his book, The Power Of Habit, show that people who make the bed in the morning have more productive days.

It can take time to break old and make new habits.  Like any new thing, diet, exercise, etc, there is first a DECISION that you are going to do something differently and then the DISCIPLINE to make it happen.

Why don’t you conduct your own experiment for a week or two?  Decide what are the 3 or 4 key things you need to achieve each week and schedule the time to do them in the morning before anything else.

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