“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.”

~ Arianna Huffington

How much thought do you put into how you start your day? What is your a.m. routine and is it helping you do your best work?

Did you know that as many as 68 percent of people check their work emails before 8 a.m. (50% of them before even getting out of bed)? The average person first checks their phone around 7:09 a.m. In my world that’s even before coffee.

Is this really the best way to enter into the day?  I’m sure you know the answer to that. It’s not, so here are three reasons why checking your email first thing is the wrong thing… and what you can do instead.

Watch the video below, and read the transcript that follows for BONUS tips. Then choose to say NO to email (for awhile).

  • Email is a Productivity Killer

Our a.m. time is our most productive and creative time of the day. Protect it like your life depends on it. When you sleep the glymphatic system flushes the toxins from your brain and gets things in order… so the work you do first thing may well be the best of your day. Why waste that on email?

  • It’s Not About You

Your morning time should be all about things you want and need to get done: a selfish attention to what is important to you today.

As soon as you give in to the lure of email, you give control to the beast. Now, instead of guiding your own path forward, you’re being pulled in the direction of whatever request has infiltrated your inbox overnight. Wait so you can stay focused until you’ve set your priorities.

  • It’s a Cop Out for Doing the Real Work

It’s easy to busy ourselves with email and get sucked in by the urgency of other people’s requests, but first ask yourself …what’s truly IMPORTANT to get done on your own agenda. In many cases you’ll discover it’s not email.

My ultimate wish for you would be that email is not the thing that takes over your mind before you’ve had the chance to be mindful, but in the real world, it’s not always so cut and dry. So, if a quick glance is necessary to calm the stress and off-set potential emergencies, check-in! And then consider one or more of these alternatives before you do a deep dive into the email chasm…

1) Eat breakfast

Breakfast may be the most important thing you do to start your day. Besides being good for your overall health, that first meal improves your memory, boosts your energy, improves your mood, and enhances your concentration. It’s also a good time to connect with your family, or just have some quiet time. It’ll amount to 15 or 20 minutes without email but the benefits are worth the delay. Be in the moment and eat it up.

2) What You Eat Matters

When you sit down to that first meal, make sure it includes some protein. Protein is essential for developing and maintaining lean muscle, but if we’re not getting enough protein throughout the day, muscle maintenance is not at the maximal level. Start with breakfast.

Also, protein-rich foods like eggs, greek yogurt, lean meats, and cheese will help you feel full longer, and will provide more sustainable energy than a muffin or piece of toast.

…and get some water into you first thing along with your caffeine fix. Hydration helps energy and focus!

3) Meditate The benefits of meditation include lower levels of stress, enhanced creative thinking and productivity, improved cognitive functioning, and even improved physical health.

I’m learning meditation with the help of an App (headspace) to overcome my hang-ups about it. I laugh every time I tell some one about it because it seems crazily counter-intuitive to use an App to meditate, but it’s working for me. For a review of the best meditation apps of 2018 check out this link.

But really, if you just sit quietly and breathe…even for 5 minutes, it’s meditation. Choose to be mindful…not mind full.

4) Move your Body

Beyond the obvious benefits of regular exercise, your morning routine can set you up for work day success in many surprising ways.

Morning movement helps you feel more confident and in-control as you enter your day, and you can celebrate having done something good for yourself and your health right out of the gates. Also, that a.m. hustle will boost your productivity in big ways. A good walk or run can increase your mental clarity for four to 10 hours post-exercise, so you’ll be firing on all cylinders once you get to work.

If you have trouble fitting in fitness, do it first, before busy-ness and fatigue get in the way.

And it doesn’t take much. A brisk 15 minute walk will up your energy, mood and productivity in significant ways.

Yoga or stretching is also a great way to start your day as it will get circulation going, and ease stress and tension, so you’ll start your day focused and calm. So get moving in the morning.

5) Set Your Goals for the Day

Have you ever got to the end of what felt like a good, productive day only to realize you did nothing to address your big goals? It’s why morning goal clarification matters.

First thing in the morning your mental clarity and focus is high, probably the highest it will be all day. Rather than waste that productive and creative energy on other people’s requests and problems why not ‘take 10’ to get clear about your objectives for the day?

These days, before I dig in to email I sit at my desk for about 10 minutes and get clear about what I need to accomplish for that day. I write a list in my planner, prioritize tasks in order of importance. And then I start on the first one. Sometimes the 10 minutes end and I open up email, but more often than not I get one or two important things off my plate before I’ve read a single email.

6) Get into a Positive Frame of Mind

The first thing into your brain in the morning will set the tone for the day, so make sure it’s positive. Read an inspirational quote or two, create a positive affirmation that you repeat to yourself first thing, or do a morning gratitude list.

Gratitude is good for your health. People who regularly practice gratitude, experience positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

Leave the email checking for later so you don’t run the risk of having negative, stressful work challenges impact the start of your day.

7) Read Something Inspiring or Educational

In keeping with the ‘first in, first out’ idea, and the fact that your brain is at its best in the morning, give it something good to read right out of the gates…an educational article, a good book, anything that gets you thinking and learning!

There you have it, 7 great ways to start your day that don’t include email! If you have others, please share them with me here. I’d love to learn what works for you!

Delay that first inbox check-in until you’ve done something good for your mind, your body or your big goal. Your to-do list will thank you!

Transform your work and your life…one recharge at a time!

To learn more about my new Success-Energy Strategy Sessions and how to bring me into your organization reach out to me and make autumn awesome, personally and professionally with The Success-Energy Equation!

Michelle Cederberg, CSP, MKin, BA Psyc

Empowering today’s dreamers, leaders and go-getters to create the life and career they want.


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