Google Productivity Expert on How to Start a New Day

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In a recent article on Fast Company, Google productivity advisor, Laura Mae Martin, gives tips for starting a new day. According to Laura is the author of Uptime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Well-being, the first couple of hours of the morning are the most crucial on how to start a new day.

Your main point of control for every day is the morning. We tend to naturally use mornings as a place to be productive. You don’t hear a lot of people setting their alarm for 6 a.m. to play video games or binge-watch TV. So that hour in the morning is worth a lot more than an hour in the evening, and I suggest using it to set up the rest of your day.

– Laura Mae Martin on Fast Company

The following are Laura’s recommendations for starting a fresh day, adopted from the Fast Company article:

  • Start the Night Before. “You wouldn’t start a meeting by thinking for the first time how you want to spend the meeting. You’ve already lost a huge opportunity to make it effective. It’s an hour-by-hour contract with yourself to say, ‘What do I plan to do tomorrow, and when?’. A lot of productivity gets lost in the morning because you don’t have actual slots on the calendar to get tasks done.
  • Complete a Task for Future You. “When you plan your life for future you, you get a lot more satisfaction than current you. When it’s 8 p.m., think, ‘What can I do for morning me? What’s something I can set up for myself that will delight me the next morning?’. Having something that makes you say, ‘Oh, that’s already done,’ will put you in that good mood right away.
  • Build in a Buffer. “Her routine is to wake before the rest of her family, and she calls this time the ‘Laura 30‘. I let myself be and do whatever I’m in the mood to do during that time, but the time is consistent. Some mornings I wake up and silently drink coffee and do nothing else. Some mornings, I’m reading a really good book. Some mornings, I have a lot of energy and want to work out during that time. And most of the time, I meditate and maybe journal.
  • Go Device-Free. “It’s like waking up and inviting work into your bed with you at 6 a.m. Wake up to yourself and not your email. When your brain is in that mode of waking up and thinking, What do I have to do? versus What do I want to do?, you don’t get a chance to reflect or fill the energy bank, especially if the first thing you do is start answering emails. Devices play an important part in our life, but they’ve started to play too much of a part in our mornings. You should think of your work like your in-laws. You may have them to your house, but you’re not going to invite them into your bedroom at 6 a.m. Treat your phone like a guest, and create boundaries.
  • Music and Lighting. “If you start that mood high, you’re most likely to have a better day than if you let yourself get in your own thoughts. As I feel myself waking up, my brain is saying, I need more light. That’s when I hit overhead light. This allows your brain to ease into the day in a natural way.”

By establishing a meaningful morning routine, one can start the new day with a plan, and should there are be any issues later in the day, one can have more energy to effectively manage the situation.