I was on a BBC Radio Scotland program this morning talking about the “5-9” shift (based on a Telegraph article I was quoted in last week – behind the paywall). Mornings are always a great time for getting stuff done. But this is particularly true now as many people are juggling work and homeschooling/childcare duties. Seizing the early morning shift can make the whole day feel more productive.
For starters, in many of our houses, this is the only time that’s quiet. It’s also a time that’s less likely to be interrupted. If you’re running a lot of tech support on Zoom after 9 a.m., well, nice to have a time when no one’s logged on.
Now, this doesn’t work for people whose children wake up unpredictably, or very early. But if the kids are old enough to sleep, or old enough to know to stay in their rooms until 7:00 a.m., or an early riser can be reliably satisfied with YouTube videos (like my 5-year-old) then it can work.
Just figure out what block of time might be available. Go to bed early enough to make it feasible. Then plan exactly what you’re going to do in the early shift. A lot of people start with their inboxes but…this is a bad idea. You can clean out your inbox in scattered bits of time through the day. You won’t concentrate on anything deep while mediating sibling squabbles. So go with whatever requires focus.
Ideally you should choose something that can actually get done in the block of time available. Because when you knock something off the priority list first thing in the morning, the day feels a lot better. You can be more relaxed for the interruptions later, because you know you’ve already done something. Since some of the despair of currently chopped up schedules stems from wondering if we’ll ever get anything done, this is no small matter.
Are you seizing the early shift these days?