Prep your day the evening before

Reduce the number of decisions and tasks you have to do each morning in between waking up and doing your work:

  • Decide on and lay out your clothes for the following day the evening before and gather all other pieces of stuff you need (supplies, equipment).
  • Make your breakfast and lunch the night before and have it ready to grab in the fridge.
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Time Management

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The power of morning routines
  • Routines drastically reduce the amount of logistical and psychological friction in between us and our goals.
  • Good routines are also powerful motivation generators. In addition to cutting down on morning friction, good routines can become sustainable sources of motivation which help us maintain our commitment to work over time.
The secret to productive mornings
... is to make them easier, not earlier.

Forget about getting up insanely early every morning.  How much time we have in the mornings is far less important than how we spend the time we do have.

Get a good night’s sleep

Good sleep makes everything better. It’s extremely hard to do cognitively-demanding and creative work when we’re sleep-deprived. 

Low energy, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, irritability, and poor motivation can all come directly from poor sleep, especially consistently poor sleep.

  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even weekends.
  • Getting into bed before you’re truly sleepy is a great way to start worrying, which leads to arousal and difficulty falling asleep.
  • Watch out for too much Sleep Hygiene. Don't make going to sleep seem like a lot of effort.
  • The final hour before bedtime should be a mellow time that doesn’t involve work or any other goal-oriented activities.
Don’t snooze

In addition to hurting the quality of your sleep, snoozing is detrimental psychologically: it leads to an erosion of self-confidence and the ability to follow through on our own best intentions and goals.

Psychologically, by doing all the things that go along with showering like combing your hair, brushing your teeth, getting dressed, etc., you’re communicating to your brain in no uncertain terms that it’s time to go and get started with the day.

Reward yourself for getting out of bed

Don't rely on willpower. The smarter way to tackle the morning is to build routines and rituals that pull us out of bed and toward our goals.

Create a pre-work morning routine that’s rewarding and enjoyable. For example: go to your favorite shop and grab a coffee on your way.

For example, every day when you get to your desk and sit down to work, play the same song before I start any work.

This is important because it serves as a cue to your brain to go into work mode. This little ritual makes it easier for me you “slide” into work rather than having to will your way into it.

Working for extended periods with full concentration and no distractions, on a single task requires:

  • Knowing the day before what exactly you’re going to be working on during your Deep Work hour.
  • Putting your phone somewhere out of sight and earshot while you’re doing Deep Work. 
  • Building up to working for an hour straight. This uninterrupted flow is invaluable.
 Track your work
  • Get a monthly calendar.
  • At the top of the calendar note the task or action you’re tracking. 
  • Each morning after you’ve completed the task, put a big X or some kind of mark through that day.
  • Try to go as many days as possible without “breaking the streak.”
  • If you do miss a day, note how many days in a row you went and set that +1 as your new goal.
Reward yourself for finishing

The magnitude of the reward isn’t very important; it’s the ritual of the reward that matters. So it’s enough to do something small as long as it signifies that you’ve completed your​ task.

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RELATED IDEAS

Stressing about sleep

Before a stressful work event, we tend to worry about what will happen if we don’t sleep well:

  • We worry that we’ll be physically tired.
  • We worry that we won’t be mentally sharp.
  • We worry about being in a bad mood.
  • We worry that our performance will suffer.

6

IDEAS

The Brain as a Snowy Hill

The snowy hill represents the brain, the people sledding are like the memories, and the trails left behind are the synapses in the brain.

Think of the brain as a hill covered in snow, and thoughts as sleds gliding down that hill. As one sled after another goes down the hill a small number of main trails will appear in the snow. And every time a new sled goes down, it will be drawn into preexisting trails, almost like a magnet. In time it becomes more and more difficulty to glide down the hill on any other path or in a different direction.

A night routine is the things you do immediately prior to going to bed.

Three benefits of having a decent night routine:

  • You’ll have a more restful and higher-quality sleep.
  • You’ll be able to tackle the morning in a smoother and more productive way.
  • Your brain will be sharper throughout the next day.

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