If your day is anything like mine you are bombarded by tasks and interruptions throughout the work day. My day is heavily scheduled from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. There is often no down time. No time to reflect, to plan or do much of anything else but deal with each item on my schedule which we call the docket. I am a judge, and our time is heavily scheduled each day. We must hear as many cases during a day as possible, or we are in a trial all day long. On non-trial days I am scheduled heavily to hear dozens of cases all day long. One recent day I heard over 90 cases in one day. I’ve heard it compared to drinking from a fire hose.
If you have a day like that you must find some time to think, to plan and to get the things done that need to be done outside of that schedule or docket. For me the only time that can happen is first thing in the morning. My docket starts at 8:30 but I get to work no later than 7:00 AM. I get more done in that 90 minutes from 7:00 until 8:30 than I can get done the rest of the day outside of my docket.
Benefits of Morning Time
In early morning everything is fresh. A cup of coffee tastes better at 6:00 AM than it does any time after 10. You are hopefully well rested. Your energy is high. Fatigue from hours of work has not yet set in. There will be few if any other people about to interrupt you. You have quiet and peace around you. This is the perfect time to think, review, plan and work on projects. Your mind is clear and it is the time to schedule things and set priorities.
It is remarkable how much you can get done with one or two hours of time free of interruptions. It is often the most productive time of your day.
If you are naturally a “morning person” like I am it is even better. Morning is when I am most productive. What if you are a “night owl”? First most people can adjust to different schedules. By gradually setting your alarm earlier (and going to bed earlier) you can train your mind and body to function well in the morning. I also find it beneficial to get some exercise in the morning before you sit down to work. It gets the blood moving and wipes those cobwebs away.
If you just cannot be productive before 9:00 AM then shift some of that time to your late afternoon or evening if that works better for your natural rhythms. I still think morning is best because there are fewer interruptions than any time until late at night.
Morning Tasks: Email, Scheduling, Planning, Writing
I divide my mornings into two parts. I arise at 5:00 AM (I assure you that you can get used to that and learn to love it). That is when I exercise, eat a good breakfast, shower and get ready for work.
Then I write. I spend 30 minutes each morning minimum to writing. In fact I am writing this article at 6:30 AM on a Saturday morning!
I get to the office by 7:00 AM and then engage in the second part of my morning. Yes I check email. You will read a lot about how you should ignore email first thing in the morning. I disagree. If you communicate heavily through email like I do you need to review those emails first thing in the morning to see what you will need to put on your to-do list. You can sort out what needs to be done immediately and what can wait.
This is also the time I plan for the day and the week. I review my task list and prioritize. I will have no good time to do this for the rest of the day so it gets done before 8:00 AM.
Because my work life is driven by a docket this is also the time to review the cases I will be hearing that day, make sure I’ve read late submissions and am familiar with what needs to be done.
If you have not watched a sunrise lately, heard the first song birds of morning, or felt the coolness of morning you are missing a lot. Enjoy the quiet and peace of early morning and then get important things done so that you can follow your scheduled activities the rest of the day.
Learn more about how to manage your time to achieve more of what you want to do in my book, Effective Time Management. Get free lessons on how to use your time more effectively with my Effective Time Management Lessons.Wishing you well,
Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.