The morning routine that will shave hours off your week

Sophia Ellis
Jul 11, 2017

For me, the first probably three hours of my day at work are the deciding factor between an unproductive blur of a day or me killing every single task on my list. There is no middle ground, either.

So it’s no surprise there endless stories out there detailing the particular and, sometimes, absurd morning routines of the world’s most productive people. (i.e. Tim Cook’s 4:30am email blasts). For this reason, there’s a lot of study on the “morning routine” and what it takes to formulate the perfect jumpstart to our days.

Since most office work these days is fairly autonomous, especially in companies like ours, I decided to do my own research into what factors make up the most productive morning routine at work.

What happens before you get here is out of my jurisdiction however, so don’t expect the suggestion of a 4am meditation session.

Check email once and turn off notifications:

Employees spend up to 6.3 hours on work email on average per day. Email is one of those wor day tasks that is necessary but also takes up way more time than it needs to with virtually know tangible results. Constant notifications can be hugely distracting throughout the day and kill “workflow”. It takes us, on average, 20 minutes to refocus on a task once we’re distracted. Schedule just 5 minutes at the start of your morning routine to check emails and turn off all notifications. Your mind will be clear of pressing issues right away so you’ll be able to settle into deep work periods easier.

Write down 3 -4 vital tasks:

One of the biggest productivity sins is an out of control to-do lists. I’m definitely guilty of filling up my to-do list with tons of small menial tasks just so I can cross them off. I dedicate way too much time to getting them done even though they result in no actual productivity. Instead, after checking email, write down 3 – 4 vital tasks that will result in forward movement for the day and just those tasks. Stick to scheduling your time around these instead of trying to bust through a long to-do list.

Time block your day:

With your 3-4 vital tasks, schedule your day in blocks centered around them. The idea is to dedicate long periods of uninterrupted time to one important tasks so you can get yourself into a state of “deep work” where you are at your best. Quality work comes from deep work. The only way to get to a state of both productivity and quality is to get rid of all multitasking and distractions. Scheduling your day with deep work for each vital task as a goal is a must.

Have a face-to-face meeting or video call:

It’s really easy with the amount of digital, distant communication to get unmotivated to stay on track or misunderstand goals. Right away in the morning, I schedule my video calls to get the details squared away and feel personally connected to work. When I’ve talked to someone face-to-face I’m way more motivated toward our collective goal and less likely to procrastinate.

Schedule breaks ahead of time:

Another huge productivity killer is burn out. If I schedule out my day and just keep going, it’s not long before I start getting distracted and losing focus. To avoid this, at the beginning of the day, schedule breaks in between your blocks of deep work to clear your mind and keep motivated. During my breaks, I give myself time to take care of menial tasks that don’t retire concentration like checking email. Also, if I know there is a break coming up after a period of work, I’m more likely to stay focused through work.

I take about 30 – 45 minutes to run through these steps and set up my day and it saves me hours throughout my week. Give it a try and see if these work for you.

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