Scott’s Thoughts: Restart Your Day

“In doing your creative work, do not start your day with addictive time vampires such as The New York Times, email, Twitter. All scatter eye and mind, produce diverting vague anxiety, clutter short term memory. Instead begin right away with your work. Many creative workers have independently discovered this principle.”

-Edward Tufte, American statistician and professor emeritus of political science, statistics, and computer science at Yale University.

SunriseHow do you start your morning? If you’re like many people, your smart phone’s alarm wakes you and the first thing you lay eyes on are notifications from a myriad of apps. (We hope you don’t try and sleep with your notifications turned on. In fact, there are many good reasons why you might consider a tech-free bedroom entirely.)

Given how much we’re under assault from news headlines, text messages, email, and social media notifications, it’s surprising we would choose to start our day with what amounts to a storm of information. Even if you pride yourself on lightning fast client communication, doesn’t everyone deserve waking hour or two relatively free of distraction?

Studies suggest device addiction is a real problem for people in our hyperconnected age. But as artists and writers will tell you, submitting to this addiction first thing in the morning can derail creativity and ruin some of the day’s most productive hours for clear thought and real work.

I don’t think artists and writers are the only ones who might benefit from protecting their brains from the electronic assault at (or before) dawn. It stands to reason that anyone would feel more balanced if they held the world at bay long enough to feel human.

So how might you abandon old habits and restart your day? Here are a few tried-and-true rituals:

1. Journaling. As you leave that dreamy place, your pliable brain is ready to unburden itself. Write freely and without restraint about your dreams, your free-floating thoughts, and even observations about your immediate surroundings. The key here is to not censor yourself and know that these pages are for no one to read. You might be surprised where it leads you and how you feel afterwards.

2. Deep study. Take your good night’s sleep and the morning’s caffeine to task on a subject which interests you. Shy away from the internet and go instead with a book. Learning a language? Now is a good time to practice. Go as deep as you can during this time, as the tranquility and focus can pay big dividends down the road.

3. Long walks. Take your coffee on the road. Get the body moving and be present for the beginning of the day. Not only is the long walk good for your body, but the mind benefits from the reflective time. Ideas seem to come to us and problems seem to unknot themselves when we’re on foot.

Of course these are just a few ideas. How do you make the most of your first hour?

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