3 Ways to Boost Morning Productivity

Ever noticed that, come afternoon, you get a little fuzzy in the brain? An interesting bit of research shows people are actually prone to making more mistakes and sloppier decisions in the afternoon. In a study highlighted by the Association for Psychological Science’s Minds for Business, it didn’t matter if participants in the study believed they were morning larks or night owls. Everyone shared the same quality of decisions throughout the day, with morning being a time for higher quality decision-making and fewer mistakes.

You may have noticed this with your own work style, attributing morning’s better acuity to a good “cup of Joe.” But caffeine aside, morning is a great time to do your most vital activities at work. So, seize the day—or at least the first half of it! Capitalize on the morning’s greater capacity to focus, and get more done before brain fog settles in.

Here are some ways to make the most of your brain’s natural high-time:  

1)      Plan for each day. You are probably familiar with the concept that life is “two-thirds planning and one-third delivery.” Without question, that concept’s been proven time and time again in business and leadership management. As a disciplined activity that forms necessary direction, planning helps you plot out vital actions and strategies for achieving your goals. It also helps you project potential obstacles and strategize so you can tackle them with greater success. We recommend planning the next day’s activities at the close of the day before. Why then? It’s not something that should take a lot of brainpower—you simply need to outline the top priorities on tomorrow’s general list of to-dos. Get this done in the afternoon or early evening and, come the morning, you’ll understand your most vital tasks – and in the morning, you’ll have more brainpower to complete them. Even better, you’ll find you’re less likely to worry all evening about what needs doing tomorrow. This leads to a better night’s sleep, and that, too, supports critical brain function.

2)      Manage your emails. It can be hard to not check and respond to all your emails first thing in the morning. For some of us, we like to start our day with a clean inbox — getting those managed right away feels like a must. But if you can, try to scan over your email headers and choose to respond only to those communications that are clearly urgent or time-sensitive. Some leaders make it a habit to always respond to emails after lunch. If that works for you, great, but know that the habit you create should be about striking a balance; doing what’s reasonable as opposed to responding to all or none.

3)      Set boundaries with those you lead. Ever find you need the bulk of your mornings to focus on leadership responsibilities or on work that demands serious concentration? It’s OK to let your team members know that you need mornings to work privately on your most important tasks. Establish expectations about your morning availability, and communicate those parameters to others so they know when it is and is not OK to call, or to come into your office. You might also consider creating calendars and routines to connect with team members at later times of the day. You may start your morning doing a quick, 10-minute huddle to review yesterday’s progress and today’s goals before diving into your most important work. Or, you may make a point to break from your desk daily at 1 p.m., walk around the office, and do a quick afternoon check-in with your team. Your people will appreciate a predictable management style, and what’s more, it will free them up in the mornings as well, enabling them to focus that morning brainpower on their most vital work, too!

What is one thing you do each morning to make your day more productive?

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