Wake up early and prepare for 2 solid hours before you start the day’s work. I heard this from two different people, John Di Lemme (a motivational speaker) and Marc Yu’s mother (Marc is a child prodigy in piano) this week, and I think it’s a great idea. I wake up early, but I spent my time on reading newspapers, eating breakfast and showering, so by the time I get to work, I arrive on the dot, and head straight into work without preparation.
John said that he would not speak to people or answer questions if he did not have the time to prepare. Each presentation or coaching session that he does comes from time spent on researching, rehearsal and preparation. He also uses the time to put himself mentally into the right frame of mind. Hence, he has pushed away engagements that require him to speak at 8am, because he cannot wake up early enough to prepare. In addition, he does not like to speak on the spot to somebody, because he feels that the time spent on preparation is very important, so that the people can fully learn from what he has to say.
Marc Yu is a child prodigy who receives homeschooling. He learns about history of music and other topics that children his age have no interest in. Science, mathematics are some other subjects he learns, so his mother needs to spend time to go through the topics for the day, and to fully prepare in anticipation of the inquisitive questions that he will ask. If she doesn’t spend the two hours to read up, then it will be wasted time for the boy. She will also use the time to plan how the lessons for the day develop.
From these two people’s experience, I realise that I have been jumping right into the day’s work without sufficient preparation. Sometimes, I meet with my clients right at the start of the work day. On other occasions, I have one or two hours to prepare before I see them. There is a difference. When I do not have time to prepare, I am able to produce a presentation on the spot, but the standard is not good enough. When I have time to prepare, I have time to read more in-depth, ask more thought-provoking questions, and engage them better. I am also in the mental mood to go through the day. This is especially important as I tend to wake up with low energy and enthusiasm. Regarding this, I’m taking steps to overcome that. Before I can do that, I must make sure that my standards do not suffer.
Some people think that they can just rely on what they have been doing for the past few years to take them through. However, there is new information in the world everyday, and it takes time to digest. If we do not set aside time to reflect, to think through the day’s events, then ultimately, our work suffers.
Since not everyone is a morning person, perhaps you can find a time that suits you. If you are able to plan your time in the office, perhaps you can schedule meetings with people later in the morning, or in the afternoon, so that you have enough time in the morning to go through your ideas, your pitches and other important things before you meet your co-workers or clients.