Pre-Caffeinate

(and other morning productivity tips)

*Originally published on the Pure Chat Blog

In a recent discussion about productivity on Twitter (ironic, I know), we started chatting about habits that set your day off on the right foot. During that conversation, I started thinking about how I’ve transformed my first few hours at work into a laser-focused, window of awesome by utilizing my short commute to eliminate all the little tasks that used to eat up this time.

Before I dive into some of my new habits, it might be good to mention that many great articles have been written on the power of the morning ritual. But my problem with some of them is the recommendation to wake up extra early (I need my eight hours!) and adhere to a consistent, regimented schedule. Personally, I’m not a fan of the rigidity and prefer to use my commute as some relaxed (but essential) buffer time between pounding the snooze button and entering the office.

Now even if you drive to work (please don’t use these tactics in the car!) you can still do these little tasks during breakfast, tooth brushing, or a walk around the block. That being said, try to avoid taking things on the moment you wake up. Since I started using a smartphone, one of my worst habits (and probably yours too) has been opening emails the second I open my eyes. This is just a crappy way to start the day. Not to mention, it means I’ve forgotten which emails need to be addressed by the time I get into the office. Fail. So instead, truly set 20–30 minutes aside to incorporate these mini productivity boosters into your morning:

Divide and Conquer Your Inbox

Like I just said, the wake up, check email, snooze cycle doesn’t work. That’s why I now leave emails alone first thing in the morning. Instead I wait until my commute and spend 5–10 minutes deleting the junk and more importantly responding immediately to anything that takes less than two minutes to address. If you use an internal communication tool like Slack, apply this tactic here as well. It’s too easy to let the #random channel dominate your first 30 minutes in office, so get that scrolling outta the way beforehand.

Pre-Caffeinate

This means exactly what you think it means (and I’m sure some of you already do it). But when your office has Keurig machine full
of free coffee, it seems like a better idea to save your morning cuppa joe until you come in. Wrong. If you’re the caffeinating type, cut through the AM brain fog and make it yourself at home. Because I’m incredibly lazy (and not picky about coffee) I use the instant kind and it’s not half bad. Plus with the caffeine already working its magic, I’m raring to go by the time I get to work.

Read the Good Stuff

Whatever “good stuff” is for you, read it. My good stuff is all the articles I get in my myriad of daily/weekly/monthly email newsletters. For me that covers Medium, The Craft, WWD, and Groove’s blog. Even though the stuff I’m reading is fantastic and helps me improve, I can spend a good hour getting lost in this endless sea of content before resurfacing and getting to the day’s essential tasks.

Prioritize

At least a couple things. Although priorities can change throughout the day, it’s key to know the first few tasks you’re going to tackle the minute you sit down. And don’t just choose the easy stuff. Studies show that you’re most productive two hours after you wake up, so don’t squander the brain boost! Choose something that will make you feel like you’ve earned a break at lunch and then reassess what needs to get done afterward.

By trying out these tips, you’ll eliminate the AM minutia and realize the full potential of your morning. Do you have some morning productivity tips that been affective for you? Let me know on social @ariellehurst!