Start by making your bed. That was the opening sentence in a speech given by US Navy Admiral, William McRaven.
It was delivered as the commencement address on May 17, 2014, to The University of Texas at Austin.
In it, the former US Navy Seal gave several tips on how to change the world. By making one’s bed, he argued, one would have accomplished the first task of the day, and have a feeling of a small sense of pride. Achieving one task would encourage one to complete another, and another, until many more tasks have been completed.
I like this rationale. But I don’t make my bed. Ever. Not least because at 5.28 am when I wake up, it is pitch black and my wife is still soundly asleep. However, I do have a list of tasks and a morning routine.
I come downstairs, and drink a coffee that has been automated to start brewing at 5.25 am the night before. By making a routine, both in the morning and the evening, eventually it becomes a habit. Not only does this use less mental energy, but it serves to motivate. By 6.45 am I have trained in my gym and I’m ready to start work at 7 am.
Previously, when I lived in Germany, I would roll out of bed five minutes before the RNSs came out, bleary eyed and still waking up. I am a firm believe that trading is a business, and that it should be treated as such.
In a world where we are constantly bombarded with information and demands, be it our jobs or colleagues, social media, the news, kids, our spouses, friends, life can get hectic. It’s easy to have a target list of things to do, and become sidetracked, and by the end of the day see that we’ve only achieved half of our list leaving us feeling demotivated.
Getting into good habits will help your day. Anything that can be prepared is a good idea – be it prepping coffee, tomorrow’s lunch – or automated, such as filters and routines.
The first hour
The first hour of the day is the most important hour of the day. How this first hour goes will dictate the rest of your day.
Being productive and achieving will increase your dopamine levels. Waking up, drinking coffee, and reading or exercising will leave you feeling more productive than waking up late and scrolling mindlessly, before going to work. It’s your choice.
Depletion of dopamine levels can lead to a long list of symptoms, none of which are particularly pleasant:
- Lack of focus – necessary for productivity
- Cravings or addictions – these can act as distractions and be self-destructive
- Loss of motivation – not ideal for anyone, especially in our business
- Depression – over time, a lack of dopamine to the brain can cause depression
If we want to fight depression and these negative symptoms, then how we set up our mornings will be crucial in this battlefield.
Systems 1 and 2
Our brains have two systems according to Daniel Kahnemann, the thesis of his book Thinking Fast and Slow, and System 2 is the deliberate non-automatic part of the brain, which becomes less effective throughout the day.
Doing the important things first will help us in our day. Responding to necessary emails or tasks first will prevent them being put off or delayed, or even being completed to a standard that wouldn’t be our usual.
If the most important task of the day is making your bed, then start by making your bed.
Author Michael Taylor’s website
www.shiftingshares.com contains numerous tutorials on how to trade and invest as well as his free book – ‘How to Make Six Figures in Stocks’.