Not checking your email first thing. But no seriously stop checking it as soon as your eyes open. You know as well as I know that checking it first thing is probably one of the worst morning habits for our mental health and our productivity long term. It’s not easy to curb this habit, trust me I struggle with it on the regular. But I do notice that when I do check it first thing, I see my anxiety and stress increase and I’ve checked out for the remainder of the morning.
For those of you who have decided to completely kick this habit, I send you the biggest virtual hug, I know this is a challenge. My biggest recommendation is selecting the best method that truly works for your personal style. And remind yourself that the hour or so before the work day begins can have a real impact on your mental health and productivity.
Looking at your email first thing is a temptation when your alarm is on the same device. So decouple them – physically and mentally. Start using an actual alarm clock or investing in a sound machine (you can use it as an alarm and a machine to fall asleep to at night).
Another option – disable email notifications. I know you’re probably thinking this sounds crazy, but chimes, blinking lights, buzzes first thing in the morning? No thanks. Turning these off will minimize your temptation to scroll email while brewing your coffee. You could even take this to another level – naturally I did – disable news, social media, really anything that might cause you anxiety. But I encourage you to do this gradually. It’s like working out, but a mental work out. Electronic notifications are tools of attention manipulation – turn them off and take your control back.
Here are some more ways for you to create boundaries. I can’t emphasize how important it is to do this. I’ve learned the hard way about how critical boundaries are in the work place before you get into the office and when you leave the office (unless it’s month end and you need to be accessible).
~ Include email checking times in your signature block
~ Keep your phone out of sight until you’re at work (think out of sight, out of mind).
Experts tend to say (a lot) that the best way to get rid of a bad habit is by replacing it with a new, healthier one. So when you wake up tomorrow morning, before reaching for your phone, try asking yourself these things:
~ What am I looking forward to today?
~ What has potential to stress me out or limit productivity today, and how will I respond?
~ How do I want to feel at the end of the day and what do I need to get done to make that happen?
You should focus on developing healthier morning habits that will allow you to start your day with intention and a dose of calm. Selecting habits that fit your lifestyle, work demands and personality. I emphasize the following at the beginning and ending of my meditation courses – Be intentional with how you spend those first few hours of the day. These habits can easily create a foundation for an effective, productive, high energy day or trigger a reflexive and chaotic one – so choose wisely.
Share with me a healthy AM habit you do in the morning instead of checking your emails.