My favorite quote by Aristotle is “Excellence is not an act, but a habit”.
I propose that productivity is not a singular act but merely a collection of habits you form every day that, when bundled together, ensures an above average level of productivity.
I call this concept your productivity tempo. It is the rhythm of your day. It is the difference between a day where you consistently complete your tasks efficiently and a day where you procrastinate regularly or work at a slower, inconsistent pace.
What is so special about mornings?
Think of your mornings as the foundation your daily house of productivity is built on. If you start off with a strong foundation, then the tempo for the rest of your day will be steady. If you build it on top of a swamp, then you will have to take extra measures to turn your day into a productive one. People who claim to work better under pressure are overcompensating for their weak foundation by creating urgency. If those same people were to take the time to create a strong productive tempo, they would produce better results without the extra stress.
Your mornings set your tempo for the day. It is quite a feat to turn a non-productive morning into an exceptionally productive day. In all my research, I have yet to come across a method to attain this. If you have found a way, let me know.
There are three traits that give mornings a special place in our hearts.
Trait One – It sets the tempo for our day
Think of the last morning you had where you accomplished something big. Maybe you finished a report, cleaned the whole house, or returned all your voicemails.
How did the rest of your day go?
Did you have any trouble staying motivated?
Did you find yourself procrastinating?
Chances are you didn’t. That’s because during the morning, you set a frame for that day. You created a productive tempo that you were able to follow for the rest of your day. Most of the habits in this book are dedicated to developing that tempo. In fact, I would say that 80% of productivity and time management techniques are dedicated to tempo. The other 20% would be planning, goal setting and elimination.
Trait Two – A blank canvas
Every morning represents a new day of possibilities. When you first open your eyes, you are awakening to a day of endless opportunities. You can turn that day into whatever you want it to be. A productive day, a relaxing day, a procrastinating day, or any other kind of day that you want. Start each morning by outlining a portrait of productivity for yourself. By the end of the day, you will have a masterpiece.
Trait Three – Less distractions
Mornings represent a time of very few distractions. The earlier in the morning, the more true this becomes. This is the logic behind the common advice of waking up early. During the time of 5:00am – 9:00am, there are very few things that can pull your attention away from your tasks at hand. This uninterrupted time can be your most productive period of the entire day.
The earlier you wake up, the more time you have in this window. Although I advocate waking up when your body wants to, I do not deny that there is no other time during the day that will allow you to accomplish as much. The next best time is between 11:00pm – 2:00am and that is only if your mind has not become worn down during the day.
With fewer distractions comes less excuses for procrastination. Since no one else is typically awake during this time, there is nobody to pull your attention away from what you are doing. There are no phone calls to make, no urgent emails to return, and no fires to put out. It is just you and the task in front of you. It feels good just thinking about it.
Through mastering your mornings, you will learn to master the rest of your day. Because of the way our minds work, the benefits of properly framing your mornings will show themselves throughout the rest of the day by creating new additional habits. These are called seed habits.
After a less than pleasant visit to the dentist, I decided to start taking better care of my teeth, particularly through flossing. I committed to flossing every morning after I brushed my teeth. After noticing how much garbage was still between my teeth after brushing, I started flossing at night as well. That led me to brushing my teeth longer, which then led to me using mouthwash. Within a month, my teeth were as healthy as a dentist’s.
By planting the seed of flossing once a day, my habit of brushing my teeth twice a day for 30 seconds blossomed into brushing for two minutes three times a day, flossing twice a day, and rinsing with mouthwash each time.
This is how the mind works. These seed habits are small but in time will grow and blossom into larger, more impactful habits throughout your day.
If you're interested in increasing your morning productivity, you can check out my book "Becoming The 1%: How You Can Instantly Supercharge Your Mornings". It's free for the next few days on Amazon. I would appreciate any feedback from the community.