The power of mornings – Finishing work before lunch

Morning Dophoto © 2007 Thomas & Dianne Jones | more info (via: Wylio)
Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it. –Richard Whately

I had written a post on Pareto Principle earlier. It says that 80% of your work is done in 20% of the time. That brings us to another question – during a given day, when is that 20% of the time exactly? While people have differences about what they consider the most productive time, their is one particular period quite a lot of people agree to – it’s the morning. No matter when you get up, the first few hours are, or potentially are, your most productive. I too vouch for it.

Before I go further, here is my schedule in the morning. I get up at 6:00 am. I then go out for 10 mins, to enjoy the early morning sunlight and breeze. I get back inside and get down straight to work. I write for 2-3 time slots of 25 mins each with 5 min breaks in between. After these slots, I exercise for about 15-20 mins. Then I take a bath and get ready. This is followed by around 10 mins of meditation and 5 mins of self suggestion. I have my break fast then. I do 2-4 more work slots, depending on the requirement and progress of the article I am writing. By lunch, or a little while later, the article is done, and so is my day’s work. If you have followed me for a while, you would know that most of my articles get published around 1:30 pm, IST. After that, I might do anything from watching a movie, to reading a book, or just spending time with my wife.

The core of my daily work is, in fact, done in the 2-3 slots after I get up, between 6:00 and 8:00. The rest of the morning, I am either just building upon what I have already written, or just editing it.

When you wake up, your mind and body are fresh. You are most rested, most fresh, and most ready to take on anything. It is the perfect time to do the most important work of the day.

Things are quiet in the morning, there are not too many distractions. Decide to do most of your work in this time, in the first 2 hours of the day and you can have the whole day to yourself! You can just build a little more over what you have already done, or you can do other things that you have been putting off on.

A word of caution. Starting early should also mean finishing early. Don’t try to carry on work late into the day. Your mind needs to be sure it can trust you. When you have decided and finished most of your work in the morning, don’t get tempted to do a little more and continue working at the same rate into the rest of the day. This will tire you out and make you dull. More than anything else, your mind will come to distrust you. The next day when you try to repeat the same, your mind will know that you are lying and it won’t be so friendly. You will again find yourself dull, you will work even more during rest of the day and will fall back in to the same vicious cycle. Being at your productive best, flowing through work naturally and happily, requires discipline. Cultivate it. Stand by your word, to others and to yourself.

What about office work? I was not talking about what you need to do in office. I was talking about what you think is important in your life. This may be your health, or your personal value buildup(value addition apart from work, like preparing for some certifications or doing something on your own), or working on your spirituality, whatever you think is important. And if you really love your office work, if that is most important to you, you can always go to office early and start. Get up early, get ready and get there. I am sure your manager won’t mind you coming in early.

I don’t get time from my office work. No one is holding a gun to your head to work long hours. Take responsibility, find work-life balance.

I feel groggy in the mornings. That is because you don’t have anything fun and interesting to do in the morning. This is because you get up to get ready for something you don’t enjoy. Your sub conscious is stronger in the morning and it tells you – ‘Sleep a little more. There is nothing exciting to do after getting up’. And so you feel groggy and have a tendency to go back to sleep again.

I write in the morning because I enjoy it. I believe my work is important to me, and to others. When I get up, I am looking forward to what I am going to write.

If all you do is get ready for a job you don’t like, you are just letting life pass by. You are wasting time, yours and of others. To me, it’s the biggest crime to waste your life and potential like this. Be resolute, get up early and do what you really want to do, not what your manager thinks is important. Decide a direction you want your life to take, and do something towards that, every morning, because…

What you put conscious attention to, first thing in the morning, will, over time, set the course for the rest of your life. Choose what is most important carefully. The morning will set the mood of the day usually. What you do and feel in the morning, often tends to replicate during the rest of the day. And daily experience sets the tone for the rest of your life.

Think about it. What do you consciously do, first thing in the morning? Does it relate to the general direction of your life?

If you exercise, you probably have a good level of health and fitness, and a generally cheerful and positive countenance.

If you check emails, you find yourself doing that for a big chunk of your day. You have a strong online presence, you probably have other online social accounts where you are very active. You spend most of your time indoors, most of your friends meet you online more often than in person.

If you get ready to work, to reach office in time, you are a person who takes work very seriously, You are a loyal employee. You regard work as the most important thing in your life and feel a certain sense of responsibility towards it.

*****

If you want to be better and more productive at what you are doing, focus on the first few hours after you get up, they are crucial. If you don’t like the present state of your life, make it a point to get up a little earlier and spend the extra time in doing something towards your dream life.

Make good use of the first hours of your day. It’s about consciously setting the direction of your life Vs Spending it reacting to things happening to you.

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up and knows that it will have to outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed.

And, every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up and knows that it will have to outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.

It doesn’t matter if you are the lion or the gazelle. When that sun comes up, you had better be running.

–Author Unknown

7 Comments

  • Jyoti
    March 7, 2011 - 3:56 am | Permalink

    :) Nice article Rahul.

  • Anusha
    March 8, 2011 - 2:58 am | Permalink

    enjoyed reading this !! nyc one :-)

  • Rahul
    March 8, 2011 - 6:53 am | Permalink

    Glad you both like it!
    So what plans for the morning now? :)

  • March 13, 2011 - 8:06 am | Permalink

    Nice post Rahul. I’ll especially pay attention to your words of caution. I make this mistake quite often. When I start working early in the day, I complete so many tasks quickly and efficiently, and I get carried away, I want to make the most of this productive day. Invariably, what happens is I get up late the next morning and nothing gets done! Mind is like a mischievous child. One needs to deal with it very skilfully and cleverly :)
    Srini recently posted..Planning for tomorrow Vs Being in the present moment

    • Rahul
      March 13, 2011 - 8:56 pm | Permalink

      I totally understand. I did this for a long-long period. It’s only recently that I have gotten over it a bit.
      You may want to try using fixed number of time blocks for working. A good method to use is the Pomodoro Technique.
      All the best!

  • Kunal
    March 19, 2011 - 6:58 am | Permalink

    Amazing post Rahul. Yep, it definitely helps. I would always keep this in mind.

    • Rahul
      March 20, 2011 - 7:53 pm | Permalink

      Glad it was of help Kunal!

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