Improve Productivity by Avoiding Going Online Before Breakfast

In the old days, it was traditional to get up, get dressed, and read the newspaper — or listen to the news on radio or television — over coffee and breakfast.

These days, though, I’ve been getting up at 5 or 6 a.m. In a lot of ways, the early morning hours are a great time to write and do projects that require uninterrupted effort. But I find that it’s way too easy to get sidetracked. Since I work at home, I’m tempted to sit down at the computer first thing in the morning to “check my email.” Unfortunately, too often, I find that “checking the email” has turned into a marathon session of “checking the email, responding to email, reading online news, and catching up on Facebook and Twitter…” and the next thing I know, it’s already 9:30, and I haven’t yet eaten or gotten dressed.

So I’m going to try a few things to regain my mornings:

  • Turn off my computer at night. Not only will I save energy, it will require an extra effort to turn it back on in the morning.
  • If I must leave my computer on for some reason, I plan to shut down my mail software, web browser, RSS reader, Twitter client and anything else that’s likely to send notifications overnight. I’ll probably leave my IM client on, but will set my status to “away” or “not at desk.”
  • Route my business email accounts through a service like AwayFind. I used this a while ago, but haven’t tried it since Thursday wrote about its new features.
  • Use a VoIP service like onSip to set my business phone lines to take messages, or forward calls to me in an emergency. I’ve found that most clients are quite understanding about what’s really an emergency.
  • If I do turn on the computer in the early morning hours (for instance, if I get an idea that I want to write down), I won’t fire up my email client or my browser, but will instead go directly to my word processor or to Evernote.

It’s going to be a challenge to follow these recommendations, especially since I live on the U.S. West Coast, and most of the rest of the world is already working by the time I get up. We’ll see how I do.

How do you keep your mornings to yourself?

Photo by stock.xchng userĀ swissboy