Fresh into the coffee shop this morning, I had already experienced a moment of self-doubt when I found myself actually skipping through Stratford shopping centre to the tune of '500 miles' by the Proclaimers (it was the 'da-da-da-da' bit that got me). As disconcerting as this was, it was of some relief to see the coffee shop approaching fast like a caffine-carrying St. Bernard.
After a sit down I opened my laptop and one of the first things I saw was a tweet from Martin Hughes (aka @universityboy) with two articles about how successful people start their days. This made me laugh. Quite a lot actually - although can't really say why. Perhaps it was the realisation of how far short of the models of 'success' implied by these articles? Anyway, as much gallows humour as I drew from them, there are some things which are worth looking at.
One piece of advice was 'don't check your email in the first hour' - which made me feel rather pleased, because I certainly don't do that. Indeed, there is no human act of communication which is at all possible for at least the first hour and a half. So far, so successful.
The next tip, though, was to spend 30 minutes going through "motivational incantations". Well, that one sent coffee up my nose and no mistake. Frankly, on the Liverpool Street line first thing in the morning it is hard to imagine any of the grouchy inhabitants of the train pumping themselves up before the journey with mantras like 'you are strong, you are powerful, you are in control'. And after all, let's be honest - how many people could do that without feeling utterly self-conscious and embarassed?
Ok, but there are other tips which sound much more sensible.
Like getting up early. Because "the more time you’ve had to digest the day’s news and obstacles ahead, the greater advantage you’ll have over your competition". Actually, in this I can agree - except in my case the 'competition' is other members of staff who also need to use the photocopier before the days class begins. There is though, something rather satisfying about getting a good chunk of work done before 10am. It takes the pressure off the rest of the day, and that does seem to me like a good thing.
Another tip: to-do-lists and to-dont-lists. Seems another good idea. Task lists are something which can be really effective in terms of focusing you onto key tasks and prioritising what needs to be done and what is less important. The idea of to-dont-lists is good too. Examples given are using twitter and blogging (uh-oh!). There are others I can think of though - like driking either too much coffee or too little water - which it might be useful to sit and remind yourself of before the day begins. There are some useful tech toys which can help with this too (more details here). I have always been a fan of the Pomodoro technique, and browser add-ons like 'leech-block' which can help you avoid some of the more common distractions.
There seemed to be some peculiar references to frogs in both articles. Apparently this is something to do with getting the tasks which you like the least, done first. This is, I presume, the equivalent of eating the brussell sprouts first in your Christmas dinner. I am not entirely sure about this. I can understand the point, but do wonder whether it is not more helpful somtimes to focus first on a task you know you can complete easily - which may provide momentum. But hey, what do I know?!
You can see both the articles posted here:
11 ways successful people startg their morning
What successful people do in the first hour of their work day