When I wake up, one of the first things I do is reach for my phone to see my emails, checking for new messages from clients, and any other important updates in the Inbox. With tech being a key piece of the a.m. for many people, let’s deep dive into whether it has a positive or negative impact on the day. Specifically, does tech help or hinder productivity? In other words, can it be part of a good morning routine?
Tech as a tool for productivity
Smart tech refers to a growing field of gadgets designed to increase human productivity. There is the Apple Watch that allows you to get emails and calls on the go, as well as doubling as a fitness tracker to encourage you to stay active for best health.
And while I love my Apple Watch when I go to the gym in the mornings (until it recently closed for safety reasons during the coronavirus pandemic), I acknowledge that it can be a distraction. For example, when I’m on the elliptical machine, I love starting the timer on the watch to work toward my goal for the day.
It’s a motivator right there on my wrist, and after it’s done, I can see how today’s stats compare to the last session and earlier than that too. Awesome!
But it’s also a reminder of any new emails that come in, and I’m still available for phone calls rather than putting away tech to focus on my fitness activity in the present moment. My mind is still thinking about work, rather than taking a break to refresh.
To fix this issue, I adjusted my Apple Watch settings while at the gym. While I still want to keep the goal-setting feature for the elliptical, I don’t want to be interrupted by texts, emails, and phone calls.
So, I muted those functions while still keeping the timer on. Doing so helps make for a good morning routine for me because I’m able to focus more on the exercise and give it my all. Then I feel refreshed when I’m back at the desk, working as an entrepreneur.
The lesson here is to find what works for you when it comes to the tech you love. For example, if you’re on email regularly in the morning, could you limit your time or only focus on business emails rather than personal ones to make the most of your a.m. time?
Getting lost in the tech: An obstacle to a good morning routine
You’ve likely heard tech referred to as a “time suck.” You have good intentions, thinking to yourself, I’ll take a 20-minute break to play my favorite game online to de-stress, and then BOOM it’s an hour (or two or three) later.
Yes, you’ve lost track of time, and morning media has deprived me of precious working time. Sound familiar?
You’re not the only one!
If you’re not a gamer, then your time suck might be a different tech vortex. It could be Facebook, Twitter, or getting lost in a sea of articles on coronavirus when you only intended to read one.
You had good intentions, yes! Taking breaks is great for productivity.
Breaks are good for you – Just be careful about how you spend them
Research shows that the most productive workday includes regular breaks. A recent study, for example, noted that breaking up work time about every 52 minutes with a 17-minute break was ideal.
In other words, don’t keep going, going, going. That’s not only going to wear you out mentally, but it’ll also take a toll on your body.
Sitting too long is hard on the back and makes you vulnerable to conditions like sciatica – I had it last year after a stretch of long workdays with my butt at my computer, not taking breaks. I learned the hard way (just typing sciatica makes me wince!).
The lesson here is to take breaks (woohoo!) but not get pulled into a tech time suck that takes up your morning, putting under a time crunch to finish your deadlines by the end of day. Perhaps instead of heading onto Twitter or playing a Facebook game, instead, a walk would be a terrific way to stretch your legs and refresh the mind.
So, tech isn’t always a friend of time management. It can be an obstacle to a good morning routine.
Tech for time management
While many people talk about how tech leaves you feeling scattered and inattentive, you can improve your ability to manage time for a more productive morning. It just takes a bit of planning.
For example, try using time-saving apps on your smartphone. Slack is a popular app for those who work with teams as it makes collaborations easy to do in central spaces and focus on only those conversations pertinent to you.
It enables you to filter conversations by mentions to make sure you don’t miss anything important. You won’t have to weed through random conversations, thus getting you through the Slack queue quickly so you can get to the next project.
Other apps focus that can improve your productivity, include one simply called Focus that blocks distracting websites and social media platforms from sending you updates. Set it on your computer to block those distractions for a set amount of time so that you don’t constantly feel the temptation to click on a new email or YouTube video that just came in.
Another useful type of app is one that monitors how much time you spend online over a certain period, such as a week. It may shock you how much screen time you put in on your smartphone that wasn’t work-related!
The morning peace
When you first wake up, if you do so naturally, there’s a serenity in this moment. You’re probably as relaxed as you will be all day during the first part of the day.
I have to stop and read what I just wrote as admittedly I reach for my phone within five minutes of waking up. Does that break up the serenity?
Yes. My mind is churning with new emails about work and putting new tasks on the week’s calendar.
While I love my career, I deserve that peacefulness upon first waking up. You do too.
The takeaway on a good morning routine and technology
But I won’t beat myself up over my bad habits. Instead, I’ll try to change them. Plus, I know I’m not alone in my draw toward technology in less-than-productive ways, as the image above showed me.
The reality is that no one is perfect. I think one of the best things about life is striving to be a better person in some way, whether it’s improving time management, exercising more, or something completely different.
I’m not saying to ditch technology in the morning as there are pros and cons to using it. Instead, be aware of how you use tech in the a.m. and throughout the rest of the day at work and home. Is it helping or hindering your to-do list?
Are you distracted by social media or using it to further your business or feel less isolated at home, and only allotting a certain amount of time on it? There are healthy ways to use tech, and it can certainly enhance lives.
The key, I think, is being smart with how we use tech.
Do you include technology in your morning routine? If so, what do you find helpful about it, and how does it have the potential to reduce productivity?