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Should You Be Starting Your Day With Devices?

1 July 2014

Allison read How to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Day by Ron Friedman on the HBR Blog Network and realized she needed to get back to starting her day in a better way.

Tags: allison read, balance, time management and prioritization, writing

I like to think I do a pretty good job of having shoes. (Sometimes it’s hard to practice what you preach. Like the cobbler who sells shoes to everyone in town but whose kids run barefoot, every now and then it can be easy to shift our attention to what others should do and overlook our own stuff.) But like most people, there are times when I don’t even realize I’ve lost my shoes. That’s why I’m always reading other people’s advice.

When Ron Friedman’s HBR Blog Network post popped up all over my Facebook newsfeed a few weeks ago, it took a couple of days for me to realize that for months I've been completely breaking my own rule every morning. I had to read, How to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Day, plus prepare to give a talk on how to “Unplug” at a University of Virginia employee conference last month to figure out that I’d lost my shoes.

I know I shouldn’t start my day with email or checking social media. On my best days, I get up, feed Joey the Wonder Dog, make coffee, walk Joey, prepare my ¼ cup of granola, and watch 10 minutes of something funny on TV because I like to start the day laughing. Then I do 10 minutes of “morning pages.” Heck, I even wrote a blog post about the importance of mindfully mapping out your day called, A Better Way to Start Your Day.

And yet somewhere along the way this year, I let my new goals around managing email more effectively allow me to start checking email while walking the dog and watching a little TV. (Naturally, I wrote a blog post about how to deal with email more effectively.) Plus, all of my goals around engaging in social media in a way that’s good for me personally and professionally somehow turned into checking Facebook first thing. (Oh yes… posts have also been written about how to meaningfully do social media, too.)

Sheesh. It’s rough when you realize that your new good goals have stirred up an old set of problems! I’ve still been writing every morning as a way to be thoughtful about my day, prepare for important conversations, sort through stuff that’s bothering me, and set short and long term goals, but for months, I've been letting my iPhone get my attention and other people’s needs and stories divert my energy before I asked myself what kind of day I wanted to have.

However, as I always tell my clients, it’s never too late to course correct. So with my speech from my “Unplug” presentation fresh in my mind and Friedman’s great blog post recommending that we practice mise-en-place like any self-respecting world famous chef, I’m back to writing first and then seeing what my iPhone has to say. It’s a hard habit to break, but I’ve already enjoyed better clarity about some really important stuff I’ve been thinking about as well as days that have unfolded more like I hoped rather than feeling discombobulated at the end of the day and wondering what happened to all of my good intentions. I’m now doing a better job of answering this question Friedman asks in his post, “The day is over and I am leaving the office with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. What have I achieved?”

Whether you follow what Friedman’s recommends or try what I suggested in my post, A Better Way to Start Your Day, I hope you’ll take a look at how your day gets underway and see if maybe it’s time to find your shoes.


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Susan Watson
Jul 03, 2014

I loved your article and would have agreed until yesterday . I beleave now that social media does Stearns your day, & how that looks for anyone is totally up to that given individual . Mine has been my rock and my shoulder to lean on, without it I would have never connected with the amazing amount if friends and positive people, that I do have in my life . I would be all alone and maybe not hear at all . So I have much love and respect 4 social media and the role that it has in my life !!!

Allison Partners
Jul 08, 2014

Susan, I agree with you that social media is wonderful. It’s been great for me professionally and personally. I’ve rekindled old friendships, strengthened existing ones, and made new connections. However, I still think we may want to pause before we start our day with social media so that other people’s stories aren’t the first thing to influence us. I think it’s important to plan your day on your own first and then integrate input from others.


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