By Michael Mink
A great many of the world’s best and brightest don’t leave their mornings to chance. And that isn’t a coincidence.
That’s from Benjamin Spall, who with Michael Xander wrote “My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired.” They are the founders of Mymorningroutine.com, which provides ideas from successful people on managing the morning.
“When you start your morning with intention you can bring your morning wins with you into the rest of your day,” Spall said.
Tips on creating and sticking to routines that become part of you:
Make it doable.
Keep your morning routine short and easy to accomplish, especially in the beginning, Spall says.
This greatly increases the chances of you sticking to it. Make changes to your routine slowly, and give each change a fair shot.
“If you make too many changes to your morning routine at once you’re likely to come up against a wall,” Spall said. It’s fine also to just introduce one new habit into your routine every two or three weeks.
Target biggest returns.
Do your most important work first. “You’ve heard this one before, but it’s something that has come up time and again when speaking with successful people about their morning routines,” Spall said.
It’s the low-hanging fruit, so grab it. Doing the highest-yield work first thing in the morning or shortly thereafter “dramatically increases the chances of you getting it done,” he added.
Another nice benefit: It makes the rest of your day easier as you don’t have your “unfinished most important thing hanging over you unfinished for the rest of the day,” he said.
Stay the course.
Morning calls, meetings and the unexpected means doing your most important work first isn’t always possible, but it’s the ideal you should strive for.
“If you aim to complete your most important work first thing in the morning every day this week, and you only do so three out of five days, I’d still call that a win,” Spall said.
Aaron Edelheit, author of “The Hard Break: The Case For The 24/6 Lifestyle,” points to Brad Feld, a successful entrepreneur, author, blogger and venture capitalist running a half-billion-dollar investment company, who takes a digital sabbath. Feld is a co-founder of the Foundry Group, a venture capital firm.
Every week Feld takes one day and turns off his phone and computer, cutting the cord from technology. “Feld says that by taking a digital sabbath he is ‘doing the best work I’ve ever done.’ In fact, he has seen such positive outcomes from taking a day off that he now takes a week off every quarter.”
Studies from Stanford University, the University of Michigan and the University of London have shown that a walk in a quiet, relaxing setting significantly improved cognitive performance, Edelheit says.
Creativity can be boosted by 60% just by taking these walks, he adds. Einstein was famous for taking walks when stuck with a problem to figure out. Steve Jobs believed in taking walks, the power of reflection, and taking a break from work. Ludwig van Beethoven and Charles Darwin are two other creative people who regularly took walks.
Your brain is more likely to process information and find patterns the more it is able to reflect and have downtime, Edelheit says.
Get enough shut-eye.
Don’t overlook the importance of an evening routine. Avoid playing catch-up with your day at night. “Getting to bed at a good hour will help ensure that you wake up refreshed and ready to get started on your morning routine the next day,” Spall said.
The evening is the perfect time to get some nagging tasks done around your home. And it is the time to write your to-do list or schedule in items on your calendar for the next day, he says. The evening “is your time to relax!”
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