Active mornings, passive nights
How to maximally utilize your mornings and nights? If you are hacking your daily routines, read on to find the most important tip of all.
Focus on the harder, not easier, activity
Your willpower reserves have been replenished through the night. They will deplete through the day as you reach into your reserves for managing decisions, tasks, and engagements. The harder tasks will just keep getting harder through the day. If you have a major resolution that you wish to achieve, do it first thing in the morning. As the saying goes “If you need to eat a frog, eat it first thing in the morning” and “If you need to eat two frogs, eat the biggest one first”. Take the hardest task, the one that you have been dreading, but the one that is really important for your well-being, goals, and ambitions and do it first thing in the morning.
Write, do not read
Reading is passive. Even if your job involves reading and writing critiques. Focus on the writing. Focus on the harder part. Morning hours provide quietude. No other time of the day can guarantee that. Focus on the harder activity. Activity, not passivity. Reading can be scheduled for a latter part of the day. Right before you sleep is a good time too! So do not use these hours to research on your next article. And here’s the most important thing. If you are writing, write the right stuff. Do not write TODOs, tasks, goals, ambitions, or such trivia that only make you efficient. Write the end product. If you are writing a book, do not write the outline, write the paragraphs. If you are a scientist, write the paper. If you are an artist, work on the actual art, not the marketing and ideas.
Initiate, do not respond
People like Tim Cook do send emails first thing in the morning. The keyword? “Send”, not “respond”. Responding involves reading. That introduces uncertainty in how you will spend your morning. You do not want uncertainties in your mornings. These will, and definitely will, derail your plans for those early hours.
Cut out the social
Social media makes your reactive. It is a passive activity. It is not going to further your goals. It is only going to make you unhappier in the long term. Focus on the tangible, not the virtual. At least, in the mornings
Avoid the news
Along the same theme, do not be passive in the morning. The best time to get the news is in the evenings. And if something is really important, the news will come to you automatically, through your interactions with your colleagues, friends, and family. Moreover, by not knowing the news, you will be the “good listener” in any conversation and will be able to provide an independent perspective as opposed to the one biased by the media.
Do the active
We have already given one example: Writing is active, reading is passive. Schedule the active in the morning, the passive in the evening. This same principle can be applied irrespective of your profession. So, do not use these morning hours to get organized, research literature, tidy up, analyze (your social connections, blog statistics), shop online, or other such passive procrastinating endeavors. Do something active. Write. If you are a painter, paint. If you are a strategist, strategize (not in your head, on a tangible medium!) If you are a scientist, write that research paper. Yes, you could do that important experiment, but that involves waiting on the results. No, just write that paper.
Long story short: When you look back at the morning, you should have some tangible productive piece of work to point to. Only way to “wealth” as we defined here. Be active in your early hours, not passive!
What is your opinion?
I have shared my perspective on hacking the morning and evening routines. What do you think? I would love to know your thoughts on the matter. Look forward to your comments below.