“Before Breakfast”

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This post is not specifically related to martial or strategic topics, but rather to a simple technique I’ve been employing to be a little more productive than I had been previously.

There’s an expression in Japanese asameshi-mae (朝飯前), which literally means “morning-rice-before”: “before breakfast”. This phrase is used to mean something very easy; it’s analogous to the English idiom “a piece of cake”. I’ve reinterpreted this phrase, as a kind of directive: every day, I try to make it a rule to get at least one thing accomplished before breakfast. Today, for example, I composed this post.

Food is a powerful motivator for me, and unless I have had a very large meal relatively late the night before, I wake up hungry. If I set my morning task with the idea in mind that I can eat once it’s finished, I find I work very focusedly. Once I have a cup of coffee and maybe do some light exercise my brain is awake and ready to work, and the simple act of getting something done first thing sets a good tone for the day; it often carries over, keeping me in the mode of being productive, but even if the rest of the day ends up being largely a wash, at least I got that one thing (or however many it was that day) done — and I find that feeling productive is half of actually being productive.

For some reason, trying to get something done after breakfast is a bit less successful, for me. I do occasionally get work done in the evening, but I’m often tired and my focus is not as good; I feel the time is better spent relaxing, or at least doing things requiring less mental focus.

It’s fine (and perhaps better, at least to start, to build confidence) if the task is a proverbial “piece of cake”. The point is simply to set the tone for the day by accomplishing something, even something easy.

If you’re looking for a way to give your personal productivity a little boost, give this a try and let me know how it goes for you: I’m interested to see how useful others find it.

A few caveats:

This likely will require you to wake up somewhat earlier than you usually do. I like to have at least two hours between the time I wake up and the time I need to be out the door, if I do in fact need to — this technique actually works even better when I don’t have a particular schedule for the day, in which case the risk is often even higher that a large portion of the day might get frittered away without much of anything getting done. Sometimes I’ll get rolling, finishing one task and moving on to the next, until my growling stomach really insists that it’s time for that breakfast, after all.

Composing an important email, blog post, etc. are certainly good possibilities, but checkingsocial media or email doesn’t count. In fact, I recommend avoiding these for as long as possible, as they are time-sucks and actually prevent accomplishing anything, which conversely sets a bad tone for the day.

If you don’t get something done one morning, don’t beat yourself up over it. Enjoy your breakfast, and get on with your day.

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