7 Tips to Become More Productive in the Morning

How to Become More Productive in the Morning

Mornings are my sacred personal time. This summer I temporarily lost and re-found my morning groove. It’s been a fantastic lesson in how necessary it is to be mindful about what’s ok and what’s not ok.
My default base recipe for a good day starts with what I found to be the minimum dose of self-care, so I can function smoothly: I meditate, drink my tea in silence, write and practice gratitude. Only after these are done, I can follow with my daily agenda.
I also include in the mornings the time to express myself creatively.
For me, inspiration is most abundant in the early, still dark hours of the day. Before I get bombarded with requests from other people, small or big, to answer questions, hold frustrated toddlers, run errands, prepare food, write emails, play tag or wash dishes.
That magical time just before sunrise when everything just comes back to life, that’s when I thrive creatively.
When I started writing Manual for Motherhood, the first half was written exclusively between 5 to 6:30 AM.

Today, I want to share with you some tricks I use to keep me very productive in the morning. It took me many years to arrive at these practices. I had mornings when I failed miserably, but that error became a cornerstone learning point.

  1. Set on one task to focus on exclusively
    If you have something to do, focus on this one thing. Not two, not five, not an entire page of little-bulleted to-dos. One. Think of it as “if this one gets done, everything else will be easier.”
  2. Prepare your workspace
    Whether this is a desk or the kitchen table, have everything ready so the next morning you can plunge into the execution.
    When I write, I prepare my desk with a teacup, a candle, and my charged computer the night before.
    If you are doing something that requires equipment or materials, take those out and arrange them ready to start.
  3. Mark the beginning the night before
    Hemingway used to leave his writing in the middle of a great sentence so he can have the excitement and direction to restart the next day.
    Give your task a little start. Just enough to make you excited to show up the next day and get it done.
  4. Start with a grounding practice
    Very few of us can immerse ourselves deeply into one task immediately. Most people require a little time to settle into their environment. And when you expect this to happen, you can make this time very intentional. Sit down, have a couple of deep breaths, stretch, take a sip of tea or coffee and then start. You can choose to do whatever you want at this time, as long as it marks the transition towards your mindful work.
  5. Singletask
    When you start doing what you set your mind to do, fully focus on it. Remove distractions, notifications, and interruptions of any kind. Maintain your focus with a timer if you find it stressful to be absorbed without a defined time. Make it 20 minutes to start with.
  6. Create accountability
    I recently listened to Gretchen Rubin describing the framework of The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) which describes how we can all fall into one of the four categories when it comes to how we respond to expectations. Take the test and find out which type you are:
    Upholder – holds internal and external expectations easily. This person will decide on the one task they will accomplish, and they will just do it, just because they decided they will.
    Obliger – tends to respond to external expectations, but has a hard time keeping internal ones. This person will only need to find a way for outside accountability. Use an app like Better, Coach.me or Commit or simply tell a friend or a family member that this is your plan and you will have something to show by the end of the working block.
    Questioner – they respond well to internal expectations, and not at all to external. So they have to come up with a system in which they figure out how embracing this new habit will benefit their life. It can’t be just data, other people doing it or them declaring they will do it; it’s gotta be personal.
    Rebel – these individuals become resistant to any rules, to-do’s or promises. They will do it because they want to do it, when they find it best and how they see suitable. So for a rebel, building margin into this practice will ensure success. Rebel mom, you’re in charge; you know how to do it. You will do it on your own terms.
  7. Just do it
    I know you’ve heard it before, but you can prepare yourself, in theory, read books, gather data and proof and the perfect way to get things done. This in itself can become a way to procrastinate. So just start. You will tweak this process many times until it becomes yours, but use this inspiration I offer today to take the first step and to set the intention to focus on getting things done.

I also found that my joy and satisfaction increased. When I was done, I felt like I already achieved something for the day, and whatever happens next will only add to my perceived success.

Let’s start this! What’s the one task you will start tackling tomorrow?


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