News frame-of-mind versus Meditation frame-of-mind

I’ve experimented with various arbitrary rules for my post-wake-up routine over the years. For a long time, I didn’t get to email or the news till I’d thought about my day and written my blog post. This made a lot of intuitive sense to me – use the early morning freshness to think and don’t just get into execution mode.

Over the past two weeks, due to a combination of the sheer volume of stuff going on and a lack of clarity in why I resisted opening up my email and news as soon as I woke up, I began doing exactly that. As this blog is just one giant experiment, I figured this would be an interesting one. So, after two straight weeks of checking email and the news as soon as I woke up, I went back to my preferred default habits this morning – wake up, meditate, organize my priorities for the day, blog and then get to email, news and all the good stuff.

The benefit of getting to email and the news first thing is the instant gratification associated with “getting things done” within minutes of waking up. However, I noticed it had a pretty large effect on ideas in the morning. For example, I struggled to write my blog post in the morning yesterday. But, this morning, there are at least three topics I feel really excited to write about. I can also just feel a huge difference in mental freshness.

I’ve found that there are two common states of the mind – ideas and execution. And, I’ve found that different stimuli and environments aide one or the other. For example, using a standing desk is a very effective way to get into the execution frame. Standing brings with it a certain amount of tension that gets us into execution mode. It is, however, bad for ideas. Most of us tend to be more creative when we’re in a relaxed frame of mind.

Similarly, reading the news and email first thing put me in the execution state of mind. This isn’t a bad thing. But, since most of us spend a large part of our day in execution mode (I certainly do), wasting early morning freshness and creativity is a pitiful waste of a limited and scarce resource. Additionally, I’m not all that certain that the net gain in productivity from getting things done first thing even exists. I have no reliable way of measuring this but my gut tells me that I execute better after giving myself the space to think. I’ve definitely observed that the principle of going slow to go fast generally holds true.

Lesson learnt… at least until the next time I feel compelled to experiment. :-)