I recently chanced upon an article that scratched the great itch in me to improve my productivity in the mornings.
It was a thread on Reddit titled, ‘What are the small lifestyle changes you’ve made that have had big impacts for you?‘ I particularly fell in love with the first answer by user Aceex. He spoke about how his life changed when he moved from being a consumer to a producer. First, I’ll quote him. Then I’ll tell you why I so truly believe in this.
“I make sure to start every day as a producer, not a consumer.
When you get up, you may start with a good routine like showering and eating, but as soon as you find yourself with some free time you probably get that urge to check Reddit, open that game you were playing, see what you’re missing on Facebook, etc.
Put all of this off until “later”. Start your first free moments of the day with thoughts of what you really want to do; those long-term things you’re working on, or even the basic stuff you need to do today, like cooking, getting ready for exercise, etc.
This keeps you from falling into the needy consumer mindset. That mindset where you find yourself endlessly surfing Reddit, Facebook, etc. trying to fill a void in yourself, trying to find out what you’re missing, but never feeling satisfied.
When you’ve started your day with doing awesome (not necessarily difficult) things for yourself, these distractions start to feel like a waste of time. You check Facebook just to make sure you’re not missing anything important directed at you, but scrolling down and reading random stuff in your feed feels like stepping out into the Disneyland parking lot to listen to what’s playing on the car radio – a complete waste of time compared to what you’re really doing today.
It sounds subtle, but these are the only days where I find myself getting anything done. I either start my day like this and feel normal and productive, or I look up and realize it’s early evening, I haven’t accomplished anything and I can’t bring myself to focus no matter how hard I want to.”
Reading this post hit the nail on the head. I’m guilty of doing almost everything that the author wanted me to avoid. Here’s how I used to spend my mornings. I wake up at around 8am and almost the first thing I do is to reach for the newspaper. Then I pick my Blackberry to check for mails. Next I pop open my notebook, login to Facebook and get sucked right into it. I start by catching up on statuses by friends and invariably click on videos and links.
Before I know it, I’m into random aimless browsing, hopping from one link to another. By this time, two hours melt away and I’m already running late for office. And then I have to worry about the meetings and the deadlines I have to meet at work. I knew I wasn’t doing the right thing. I had this deep urge to change.
I’ve decided to take small baby steps to change.
1) Wake up at 6am instead of 8am. That’s 2 precious quiet hours I get for myself without any disturbance.
2) I no longer pick up the newspaper in the mornings. News can wait.
3) I don’t check my mails before 9am. Either on Blackberry or Notebook.
4) I don’t open up Facebook. No sir. Not until 10 am.
Instead, I start the day by listing down the important tasks I need to do. Then I quickly dive into writing. Be it my personal diary, the blog, proposals or my books. The important thing is for me to produce new stuff instead of just consuming others’ stuff. That’s where my next project, ‘500 words before 9AM‘ comes in super handy. Read about it in the next post.