Every morning I did the exact same thing upon waking up, at least until recently. Alarm goes off, still half asleep, I groggily spend 20 – 30 minutes in bed checking emails, facebook, twitter and reddit for new posts and notifications. I know that in the past I’ve archived important emails before fully noting an action that needed to be taken from them only to find out later in the day and go full facepalm.
I’ve written about making decisions and how we get progressively worse at making them throughout the day. I’ve even eliminated 80% of my wardrobe and wear the same thing almost every single day. The question is, if I’m taking these measures to save my decision-making ability for more important things, why would I start the day with a massive stream of largely irrelevant information, almost being pulled into it without thinking about it? In a sense I was letting it control my time as opposed to the opposite.
Social media isn’t inherently bad – just like online shopping isn’t inherently bad. Both are amazing tools of convenience and connection that we can use to enhance our lives in various ways, it’s just very easy to slip into using them unintentionally. I’ve met so many amazing people because of Twitter that I’ll likely never stop using it. It’s simply the way that it is used that makes the difference in whether it’s detracting from or improving our quality of life.
For example, think about email and what it was designed to replace. I’ve historically left both my work and personal email accounts open in browser tabs all day. Can you imagine how insane we’d look if we were to stand by our mailbox all day waiting for the postman to come? And even more so as we continued to stand there after the mail had been delivered. In order to combat this desire to see an email come in the second it arrives, I’ve had to implement some rules (that are always in development).
Our morning sets the tone for how we approach the rest of our day so it’s incredibly important to do so in a way that is conducive to productivity and happiness.
A good friend once told me…
The things that happen in the world will happen whether you’re there to experience it or not. Like waves coming to shore, the tide will come in whether you are there to make sure of it.
There are few things that could be going on in the digital world that are more important than what exists in the physical space around you right in this moment.
For the first time in a very long time, I didn’t look at my phone for the first hour of the day on Monday. I made the conscious decision that I didn’t want whatever existed on social media or in an email message to change what I had already deemed an important task for the morning.
I’m working on building a decision-free 60 minute routine that I complete every single morning after waking up. Here’s the plan:
- :00 – Wake up
- :10 – Quick shower / brush teeth (just to wake up)
- :25 – Dressed (jeans, t-shirt, hoodie)
- :30 – Breakfast (eggs, lentils, dark greens)
- :50 – Meditation (10 minutes)
- :60 – Done
At this point, I generally sit down and work at home for 45 minutes to an hour to get at least one important thing done before heading into the office for the day. I’ve found that it’s easiest for me to knock something out right away in the morning before any potential new information or distractions may come up.
My goal is to check email and social media after this point – likely around 11 am or noon. Eventually, I’d like to fit some form of exercise into the morning routine as well. In the spring, summer and fall I ride my bike to work which provides many benefits – most of which is consistent cardio in the mornings and evenings on my way to and from work.
So far the routine has been beneficial and while I haven’t been at it for very long, I can tell that it has reduced the stress and ‘rush’ of a typical morning. Once I build out my schedule more I’ll do a follow-up post to give a better idea of how things come into place.
My friend Courtney Carver has a wonderful mini-course on how to build up a morning routine. I’ve found it useful, and would recommend that you check it out if you’re interested in a guide to getting started.