Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Hour, Second Hour

The morning of day and the morning of life are but too much alike.

How do you spend the first hour or two of your writing workday? What are your habits? Are they productive or unproductive?

Over the past several weeks, I've lost quite a bit of control over my mornings. I'll get up early, usually around 5:30 AM, fire up a pot of coffee--and then commit the cardinal sin of checking email and news headlines.

Suddenly, my morning vanishes.

It goes without saying that you waste precious attention and mental bandwidth by checking news or email first thing in the morning. And reading the news is only useful if it's a source of inspiration for your writing--for example if you run a blog that reacts to news or political events. Otherwise, news tends to be a depressing source of non-information that scatters and distracts your thoughts.

Moreover, checking email and undirected websurfing are low-level tasks. They are unimportant and they distract you from your true purpose. And because they are cognitively undemanding tasks, they should be deferred until after you've completed your cognitively demanding work.

I've spent the past few months taking a hard look what I do during my mornings because when my mornings are efficient and productive, the quality and quantity of my work explodes.

What do you do when you first get up? Do you check email and surf the web? Or do you start right in on your most important work?