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Though you may have an early-morning swim or run on the agenda, it’s likely you don’t actually hit the ground running. When the alarm clock goes off, you might need a minute—be it to curse the alarm clock, to stretch, or simply to shake off the morning grog. All of that is fine—just don’t check your phone.
According to a 2015 survey, 71 percent of American adults sleep with or next to their cell phone, with many of them reporting their smartphone is the first thing they reach for when they wake up. But doing so could sabotage your morning workout—and the rest of your day.
“When you check your cell phone first thing in the morning, you start your day off in a completely reactive mode,” says productivity expert Julie Morgenstern, author of Never Check Email in The Morning. “You’re not in charge of your day. Before you even think about what you need to do, you’re looking to see what other people want from you.”
At worst, this reactive mode can cause you to cancel your workout to respond to your overflowing inbox, but even if you do lace up and head out the door, it’s likely your cell phone is still holding you back. When your mind is on a colleague’s e-mail or something you read on Twitter, it’s not on your swim form or run pace.
“Every athlete knows that focus is a significant part of the performance equation—the ability to pay attention to your body, your breathing, your pace,” says Morgenstern. “But e-mail and social media and all of that stuff has created a staccato world, where every 5-10 minutes we’re checking something. It makes it hard for us to concentrate and be present.”
For most, it’s not reasonable to pitch the phone out the window. But it is reasonable to manage your phone usage to keep your digital life from intruding on your real life.
1. Stop sleeping with your phone.
In addition to getting your day off to a bad start, it’s probably sabotaging your sleep, too. People who sleep with their phones are likely checking it right before bed, a habit that is associated with a longer time to fall asleep and worse sleep quality during the night, according to researchers at the University of California – San Francisco. For athletes, sleep is a critical part of the recovery process, so investing in good sleep will make your next workout better.
2. Buy a real alarm clock.
If your phone doubles as your alarm clock, it’s the first thing you’ll see when you wake up—along with your missed calls, text messages, e-mails, and social media notifications. Invest in a real alarm clock and store your phone in a different room while you sleep. If that’s not possible, at least turn off all notifications from bedtime to an hour after your alarm.
3. Stop panicking.
Ask yourself: Do I really need to reply to work e-mails before I actually go to work? Chances are the answer is no. Few things are so urgent that they can’t wait an hour or two. Commit to leaving your phone unchecked until after you’ve done your morning workout, showered, and eaten breakfast. Once you’ve taken care of yourself, you’ll be in the right frame of mind to take care of others.
4. Don’t let your schedule take you by surprise.
“I think one of the most common time-management mistakes people make every morning is actually waiting until the morning to see what’s on their plate for the day,” says Morgenstern.” If you’re waiting until morning to look at your calendar and your to-do list, it’s too late. The day is crashing down on you, and that can be stressful.”
Morgenstern suggests practicing what she calls “Tomorrow +2” by ending every day with a review of your schedule and to-dos for the next day, plus two days beyond. “It’s likely you already do this as an athlete, checking your training plan so you know what’s ahead. Why not do that in other areas of your life, too?”
5. Give yourself a head start.
Instead of making your phone the first thing you see in the morning, set up a gear grab right next to the bed. “The night before, set your morning workout clothes next to the bed, get your coffee and breakfast staged, and make it as easy as possible for you to get from sleep mode to training mode,” says Morgenstern. “When you simplify your routine, you minimize the number of decisions and distractions you have in the morning.”