Use a Morning Routine to Maximize Your Productivity

Productivity ChartEntrepreneurs and business owners all have one thing in mind: to maximize productivity. In order to do that they can’t just work harder; while that will improve productivity, it does it by creating more work. Instead, they have to work harder and put systems in place to be more productive. One of the biggest things that is missed when it comes to productivity is the morning routine. I have seen countless business owners struggle because they skip this important piece of the day.

Here is how I have scheduled my morning routine in order to maximize productivity throughout the day.

The Wake Up Call

Alarm ClockLast fall I decided that I needed to wake up earlier in order to maximize my mornings. It wasn’t until December that I finally put it into effects, and I made one of my goals for 2016 to wake up before 6am every day. I don’t keep that goal every single day, but generally 5 or 6 days per week I am up and getting started before 6.

Despite loving the early mornings, I still struggle to get out of bed. I set my alarm for 5:15, but inevitably I snooze at least once.

At the latest I get up at 5:45, and proceed to kick myself for getting up, “so late.”

 

The Waking Up

Just because I am out of bed doesn’t mean that I am fully awake. In fact, it generally takes about 30 minutes for your body to fully wake up. That means there is no reason to sit down at the computer and expect to actually be productive within minutes of rolling out of bed.

Learn something new every dayI put on some clothes, and I stand in the living room doing some light stretches. My muscles are warm from being under the covers all night, and stretching helps to get me prepared for the day. After a few minutes, I get my blood moving a little bit faster with a few pushups. Nothing strenuous, but just to get my heart beating and push oxygen to my brain.

I am generally the first one up, so I head upstairs to my office right away as to not disturb anyone. I turn on a little side lamp, and do some light reading for a little while. I often have to read things twice to stay focused this early.

You know the TV show (and the movie) Limitless? I was intrigued by the concept of a pill that makes you smarter, or at least more focused. I didn’t want to mess around with trying to obtain any prescriptions (not to mention the fact that the prescription drugs usually have drastic side effects), but I did want to see if I could help my concentration. Research online led me to two supplements that are supposed to help: Theanine and Choline. Shortly after I wake up, I take a Theanine supplement. It’s an extract from Japanese green tea and it is supposed to help clear your mind so you aren’t worried about anything but the task at hand. I take a B-100 Complex (that contains choline) at lunch.

I have found it’s easier to stay focused and not get distracted, but I’m still debating if it’s from the supplement, or due to a placebo effect. Regardless, this part of my morning routine helps prepare my mind for the rest of the day.

 

The Getting Organized

I am a huge fan of to-do lists. And as I read through David Allen’s book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity I realize why. Putting your to-dos on paper takes them out of your mind, and puts them somewhere concrete. You no longer have to worry about them, and it is one less thing to juggle throughout the day.

TodoAt the beginning of the week I print off a to-do list. It’s relatively blank, with spots where I can fill in the specific items that need to be done for each client or project. After I have all of my topics filled in, that represents my overall guide for the week.

At the beginning of each morning I grab a scratch piece of paper, and I list off everything that needs to be done that day. I try to put them in order of importance, but sometimes I have to jump around a little bit. I make a mark at the line of where I absolutely must get to that particular day. Anything past that line and I have accomplished more than necessary and it’s bonus productivity.

This list serves to keep me on track, and make it so I can focus on what I’m doing rather than worrying about what comes next.

After I have my lists made, I am ready to take on the day. All in all I am generally only about an hour into the day with plenty of time left to tackle all of the projects I have lined up.

 

The Art of Productivity

For many years I have been a fan of “eliminate, delegate, simplify.” It is a method of reducing your workload to something that is easier to manage. First you ask if it can be eliminated entirely. Do you really need to sort through that box of old papers, or should you just throw the whole thing away? If you do have to finish the task, ask if you can delegate it. Do you really have to update your Facebook, or can you hire someone that specializes in social media management? If it’s something that you can’t get rid of, and you can’t outsource it, is there a way to simplify it? Do you really cook a hot lunch every day, or can you cook an entire week’s worth at once and then heat them up each day?

Your productivity throughout the day starts with your morning routine.

Are you maximizing your productivity, or are you winging it from the time you wake up?











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