Three Ways to Boost Productivity in the Morning
Ever noticed at work 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 it to your morning “cup of Joe.” But caffeine aside, it looks like morning remains a great time for doing activities that are more vital. So seize the day—or at least the first half of it! Your initial few hours at work, capitalize on what appears to be a greater capacity to focus before brain fog starts setting in.
Here are some ways to configure your schedule to make the most of your brain’s natural ability to function:
1. Plan Each Day
You are probably familiar with the concept that life is two-thirds planning and one-third delivery. Without question, it’s one that’s been proven time and time again in business and leadership management. A disciplined activity that forms necessary direction, planning helps you plot out the vital actions and strategies for achieving your vital goals. It also helps you project potential obstacles and foresee how to tackle them with greater success. At MAP, we recommend planning each day not in the morning but at the close of each day. Why then? It’s not something that should take a lot of brainpower—you simply need to outline what’s a priority on your list of tomorrow’s to-dos. Get this done ahead later in the afternoon or early evening and, come the morning, you’ll have a plan for what’s vital before you and will know exactly what you need to do. Also, when you get tomorrow’s to-dos down on paper, you’ll find you’re less likely to worry all evening about what’s on your plate. This leads to greater odds for a good night’s sleep, supporting critical brain function for the next day.
2. Manage Your Emails Better
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 simply feels like a must. But if you can, try to scan over them and choose to respond only to those communications that must be addressed in the morning or that are clearly urgent. Some leaders make it a habit to only respond to emails after lunch. If that works for you, great, but know that the habit you create around this may be more 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 more leadership-centric responsibilities or work that demands serious concentration? It’s Ok to let your team members know you need that time and privacy to work quietly. Fail to let your people know, however, and it’s likely they will be more apt to interrupt and distract you. Establish some expectations around your availability in the morning. Then communicate those parameters to others so they know when it is and is not Ok to call or come into your office. You might also consider creating some habits or routines that support connecting with team members at various times of the day. You may start your morning doing a quick, 10-minute morning huddle to review yesterday’s progress and today’s goals. Or, you may make a point to break from your desk daily at 1 p.m., walk around the office and do a quick check in with your team. Your people will get used to this predictable management style over time. What’s more, it will free them up in the mornings as well, enabling them to focus on their vital work, tapping that morning brainpower, too!
What is one thing you do each morning to make your day more productive?