Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush
If you feel like you’re not in control of your day, I wanted to share a cornerstone habit of mine that has improved both my productivity and happiness. I call it Owning the First Hour of Your Day
After waking up, for the first hour of your day, do not:
- Look at or touch your phone
- Check email
- Check Slack
- Use social media
My motivation for this habit
Before implementing this routine, I’d wake up, grab my phone, and immediately start reading Reddit, Twitter, and other social media. Suddenly I’d look up and two hours had gone by. Not a productive or satisfying way to start the day. Other days, I felt like I was being run ragged by my client work. I’d wake up 10 minutes before an early morning call, make coffee, and then begrudgingly jump on the call. My day would spiral from there into email, more meetings, and a general feeling of chaos and anxiety.
Now I always make sure to wake up early enough so that I will have a full hour to myself. The following are some activities that I typically do during my first hour that you may want to consider:
- Make coffee and breakfast
- Make your bed
- Take a walk outside
- Clean your house
- Work out
Pick and choose what works for you based on the day. Sometimes you may just want to sit and do nothing, and that’s perfectly ok too!
No phone for an hour?!
We’re so used to having our phones always on us. Separating yourself from it for an hour forces you to re-learn how to experience the world without a device constantly seeking your attention. You’d be surprised how different it feels to drink your morning coffee without mindlessly scrolling through social media or browsing the internet. You’re forced to be more present and actually pay attention to the world around you. You’ll notice the smell and taste of the warm coffee. You’ll listen to the sounds of the morning. And you’ll become more aware of how you’re feeling both physically and mentally. It sounds cliché, but I find this makes me so much happier and relaxed. This will massively slow down your morning and put you in control of your day.
How to Own the First Hour of Your Day
If you think you could benefit from this morning routine, here are some tips for implementing it, based on my experience.
- Do not use your phone as your alarm. Otherwise, it’s the first thing you see when you wake up, including all of the notifications waiting for you from overnight.
- Wake up an extra hour early if you have somewhere to be so that you have a full hour for yourself before dealing with the demands of the day.
- Hide your phone before you go to bed, so you’re not tempted by it in the morning. I simply cover mine with a piece of paper.
- Turn on Do Not Disturb mode on your phone. This will give you have a full hour of peace without calls, texts, and notifications.
- Practice this every day for maximum effect.
If you feel like you could benefit from this routine, I hope you’ll give it a try. It sounds counterintuitive, but slowing down my morning has actually made me more productive. Let me know how it works out for you, or if you have any additional tips or comments.
If you’re interested in more detail, I wrote a longer version here: https://blog.accountabilitypledge.com/own-the-first-hour-of-your-day/