keep regular start times
It is so easy to let this slip and lie in. After all, you have the easiest of commutes from bedroom to workspace via the kitchen.
However most productive people are maintaining an outline of their usual work-life pattern. They are off to bed at normal times and don’t binge watch a Netflix series or YouTube. They get up at their usual times.
Don't start the day with social media
But if you have some control over your morning, a surprising amount of people do something that is extraordinarily effective. For the first sixty minutes after waking up they don’t look at social media or news feeds.
do something selfish
They don’t start work immediately.
plan and prioritise your work
Most feel it is important to dress for work to help get into work mode even when no one will see them.
start with focus
This allows for focus on the most important piece of work of the day. It is so easy to be caught up by emails that take you away from your priorities.
Successful people seem to be able to keep attention on the essential tasks and make significant progress on the important few tasks rather than get overwhelmed with a list of jobs that might not make a difference.
....then engage with the rest of the world
This sounds very disciplined, but I don’t think it is. Successful people tell me it is a series of habits that sets them up for a good day. They just know it works for them and so do it, routinely.
For those of you curious, here's an example of my morning routine;
7:00 Alarm goes off
7:15 Get up
7:20 Read something uplifting (a couple of poems, my current choice is RS Thomas or sometimes it can be a couple of pages from the humourist David Sedaris, it depends on what takes my fancy.)
7:30 Do some stretches
7:40 Jog (In my case slowly)
8:30 Dressed, at my desk and reviewing the priorities for the day
8:45 First session of work (writing a blog post, planning a training session, or arranging to talk to a client) I am a big fan of the Pomodoro technique - if you are not aware of it read my blog post
9:30 Healthy breakfast (I eat porridge). I seem to start work better on an empty stomach. Like many people, I’ve found working so close to my fridge a constant temptation to snack, so having breakfast later in the morning helps me avoid overindulging
9:45 E-Mails and Social Media
I stop for lunch around 1pm. I usually stop work around 4:30pm to walk our dog. The big unknown in my work-from-home schedule is my two-year-old grandson, Joshua. With his mom and dad, he is currently living with us. Joshua might want a walk or a play time with Grandad. Apart from zoom meetings with clients, he tends to push his way to the top of my to-do list.
As we work from home or are furloughed, our self-discipline needs to increase. However, we should plan to use this opportunity to benefit the quality of our life. Successful people have a relaxed habitual routine that works for them.
A common theme seems to be starting the day off with, in the nicest possible way, some self-centred activity. This might be meditation, exercise, reading for pleasure or something else before entering a focused work time. A number of people talk about being in the zone, where work flows, time slows down and they do some of their most creative work. And only after that comes engagement with work colleagues, friends and family.
These ideas are not provided so you beat yourself up if you don’t have a morning routine. However, if you are dissatisfied with the way your days are going, focus on improving the first ninety minutes and then notice how the rest of the day feels.