The Perfect Morning Schedule for an Employee

You don’t own the business. You might not choose your own work hours, but you can still use the productivity tips shared here yesterday by entrepreneur, Mark Ford. I asked Mark, “How does an ambitious Early to Rise reader, particularly employees, create a perfectly productive day when they must stick to a specific work schedule?” Here’s what Mark said…

“Don’t start your day with the news,” Mark said. That will send you down a rabbit hole of misery and frustration. It conjures up the wrong emotions for productivity. “The best way to start a perfect day is to attack something that is problematic, something that you are struggling with or that you want to go after. It must be important. Chances are you’ll want to put it off, but those items are the ones that you must attack.”

“We all resist things that are hard,” Mark said, “but the things that are hard are the things that change our life for the better.”

The key to a perfect morning is making progress on a problem. “You don’t have to have a major breakthrough,” Mark said, “You just have to move the project forward a little bit. Even if you just spend a half hour on it, the very fact that you’ve started on it makes it much easier to go back to it and overcome it.”

Exercise is a great analogy. Back in my days as a personal trainer there were many days when my clients showed up and did not feel like exercising. They were too busy, too tired, or honestly, just feeling too lazy. I asked them to just give me five minutes. “Let’s start with a simple warm-up,” I said. “Just five minutes. That’s all you have to do.” Sure enough, five easy minutes became ten, and ten easy minutes became twenty productive minutes, and they were done. You will find the same approach works when it comes to making progress on your priorities first thing in the morning. You’ll find that once you get started, you’ll build momentum to keep going. You just have to start.

“The first few minutes will be a grind,” Mark said, “but then all of a sudden you’ll find thirty minutes has gone by and you’ve made progress. Everything gets so much easier after you’ve broken the momentum barrier that you end up doing way more than you ever thought you had energy for.”

One way to turn your mornings into productive problem-solving sessions is by planning ahead the night before. “That is also the best time to review your goals and the important projects that you are working on,” Mark said, “The momentary recognition activates your subconscious mind to continue working on the problem.”

Your perfect morning tomorrow starts with preparation tonight. Combined with picking the right priority according to Covey’s quadrants, Mark Ford’s advice will help you make big progress in life.

At the end of the day, you might find the momentum so strong you want to keep going. Mark does: “When I feel like I’m burned out at the office, I go somewhere else. I used to go to a cigar bar that’s near my office. I would go there and they would bring me an espresso, a glass of water and a cigar and I would start to work. Then an hour later they would come over and bring me a glass of tequila. I was able to put another two or three hours in the day feeling kind of like I was playing hooky from my office,” he said. “Of course after that tequila kicks in, you can really write some really miserable fiction that you think is wonderful at the time, but it kept me going. There were days when I’ll work until 9:00 or 10:00 at night, starting at 6:00 in the morning.”

Mark and I admit there’s one problem with the system. You could become so effective, so productive, and so successful, that it could start taking over your life.

“The real challenge for me now is that productivity is addictive,” Mark said. “But I’ve scheduled time to do things that hyper-productive people know we should be doing, like shopping and making dinner for my wife. I watch movies on Netflix and read a lot for pleasure. I’m not missing anything except maybe a little relaxation.”

“When I finish the day, I look at my daily priorities. If there are any not yet done, it’s very hard for me to stop. I usually just have to get them done. This is a warning. Be careful. If you start to use a productivity system, you may find you can’t stop. If this were a packaged product, I’d have to put that on the label.”

Even if you don’t want to take productivity to these extremes, and you simply want to get more done, write your first book, or use the magic of the morning to lose weight and get back in shape, Mark Ford’s system will get you there.

If you missed part one of this two-part essay, you can read it here.