The Worst Way to Start Your Day – And What to Do Instead

February 25, 2019

The worst way to start your day – and a better strategy for priming your brain for peak performance.

Let’s be real – how long, after you wake up, does it take for you to check your phone?

Three seconds? Five? Ten?

It’s okay – truth is, most of us (myself included) do it. We wake up, check email and immediately get into work mode.

The problem? It's the worst way to start your day for several reasons, two big ones being:

  • It makes you less productive. People who start the day by checking their phone and diving into email are actually less productive than people who don’t. Reason – because they start their day in this high-alert stress mode, it saps their energy all day and makes focusing on any singular task much more difficult.
  • It makes you think tactically, instead of strategically. LinkedIn research shows strategic thinking is only becoming more and more important. But, if you start the day with a task-orientated mind by answering emails, you are much more likely to stay in that mindset and focus only on what’s urgent, instead of what’s strategic. And thinking tactically all day will prevent you from advancing your career.

Okay, makes sense. We’ve identified what you shouldn’t do to start the morning – check your phone and immediately dive into email and/or social media. But what should you do?

For answers, we turned to Heidi Hanna’s awesome LinkedIn Learning course, Recharging Your Energy for Peak Performance. She has a section precisely on how to prime your brain in the morning.

“What you do right after you wake up is a critical step in setting up your day, for better or worse,” Hanna said in her course.

Instructor Heidi Hanna explains how to start your day right by priming your brain for peak performance.

How to Start Your Day: With Something Positive, Inspiring and/or Energizing

So, rather than starting your day by grabbing your phone and jumping into email, what should you do?

“Fuel your brain with something positive, inspiring or energizing first,” Hanna said in her course. “Your sensitive brain just isn't prepared for bad news or more things to put on your to do list before you've filled up your own tank.”

What that activity is can vary from person to person. But some great examples are:

  • Doing a guided meditation.
  • Reading a few pages from a great book.
  • Listening to an inspiring podcast.
  • Playing happy music.
  • Writing in a gratitude journal.
  • Exercising, even if it’s just a short walk around the block.
  • Watching something funny; perhaps a funny podcast or TV show.
  • Playing with your kids and/or pets.

And on and on. Of course, doing a few of these things is even better than doing any single one of them.

Find what works for you. So long as it’s positive, inspiring or energizing (or all three), it’ll give your brain time to wake up and put it in the right mindset to seize the day.

Then, after you feel like you are alert and feeling good, feel free to answer email. Your responses will be far better – and, chances are, you’ll spend more of your day with a positive, strategic and energized mind.

Want to learn more? Watch Hanna’s full course, Recharge Your Energy for Peak Performance.

Topics within the LinkedIn Learning course include how to: