We can summarize being productive while working from home (WFH) in one word: structure.
Ugh! I can hear you gaffing from here. Don’t dismiss the idea.
YOU decide what structure is right for YOU.
Feel better now? You are in control.
Why Do Morning Routines Matter?
It’s not just about the side of the bed you wake up on. How you begin your morning influences your mood, your productivity, and your health. It will determine how well you’ll manage in today’s chaos.
The morning routine isn’t new. Productivity enthusiasts have been sharing their prescriptions for decades. Actions from a 5 minute exercise routine to a full 2-hour stacked routine to something about eating frogs.
I’ve tried many of them. And most of them failed. Why? Because they were someone else’s routine.
Your situation, whatever it may be, is unique. Your morning routine will be as well.
A word of caution: We all have routines, even if we haven’t intentionally set them.
What’s important for setting a morning routine is that it becomes a habit, and that habit will help you get through the rough times when your motivation or mood wanes.
Routines keep us productive, healthy, and happy.
How to Design Your Morning Routine?
If you design a morning routine that works on day one, I applaud you. The rest of us will continue to experiment and adjust as things (and we) change.
If you’re suddenly remote, you have one or two weeks (if not more) to experiment. At the end of two weeks you’ll have designed a more suitable WFH morning routine for YOUR success.
I’ve worked with many professionals in developing remote work habits. Most fit into one of three approaches:
Approach 1: Follow your normal routine. This includes only small tweaks to your existing routine. If you wake at the same time each day, shower, dress, have breakfast, then ‘go to work’ you can do the exact same thing. Just understand that your commute time will be about 30 seconds.
You may wake and shower as usual. Put on your suit and tie, have breakfast, and kiss your wife goodbye. Then walk to your home office, and close the door. No change from your usual.
Approach 2: Experiment and adjust. This starts by identifying a morning routine of someone you admire. Take on that routine and assess it eery 2 or 3 days to decide what’s working for you. Then find another person’s routine and repeat.
This is the approach I use. I review the routine of someone I admire and take the elements that suit me. Try each for a few days, then Adjust to my needs. I work in that routine until it no longer provides the support I need. Then I start the process again.
Approach 3: Let your routine evolve organically. Just see what happens. What does your body want to do? Do you wake up 4 minutes before your first conference call of the day? Maybe you need to be flexible and go where it’s most quiet because you have a house full of people? If you are naturally motivated, and action oriented, this may be the approach for you.
Warning: I don’t recommend this approach to many people. We humans will take the path of least resistance, and that usually translates into poor habits and lowered productivity. Only about 10% of my clients would fit into this category.
A few things to consider in designing your WFH morning routine:
1. Consider your preferences. Are you naturally a morning person or night owl? Do you like to plan your day? If so, when?
2. Will you be on video calls? Does your attire matter?
3. What structure is in place with your company, your collaborators, and your clients? Are there expected work hours? Starting times?
4. Do you need to coordinate morning routines with others in your household?
5. It’s best to change one thing at a time and try it for 2 or 3 days. Stop something if it’s not working for you.
6. Check in now and then to make sure your routine is helping and not hindering your mood, productivity, or health.
A. Plan each day the night before. Wake at the same time each day. Scan emails for urgent messages only. Take dog for walk/run. Shower, dress and have breakfast with family. Go to home office for daily team call.
B. Wake at 7am. Feed dog. Make coffee. Mediate. Read and process email on a smartphone. Plan the day. Shower and dress. Open laptop and get to work.
C. Wake at 5am. Make coffee. Deep Work uninterrupted for 2 hours. Make breakfast for family.
D. Wake up whenever? Workout and catch up on news. Shower and dress. Breakfast and emails.
If you want help, I’m offering free consults for a brief time.