September 09, 2013, 3:14 PM — We’re always supposed to look at the big picture and think long-term, yet we’re constantly saddled with short-term crises that eat up our time.
There’s the daily firefighting, e-mail, phone calls and those horrible, pointless meetings that keep the majority of today’s professionals stuck on daily to-dos instead of future would-like-tos because we never have time to look ahead.
If this sounds familiar, author Laura Vanderkam has the solution for you: Push back your alarm clock by 1 hour.
Vanderkam says morning is the best time for long-term planning, strategic thinking or any task you want to do.
"Research into the science of willpower finds that we’re best able to focus on difficult tasks while the day is young," she writes at Brazen Careerist. "Willpower is like a muscle, and over a long day of concentrating in boring meetings, dealing with difficult people or battling traffic, it’s simply used up."
Dedicating a pre-breakfast hour means you also will be exempt (ideally) from traditional in-office time stealers.
"You’re unlikely to be interrupted by an urgent meeting request or phone call at 6:00 a.m.," she notes.
Vanderkam says you can use this daily hour to do all the career tasks you've been meaning to tackle, but ones for which you never have time: reading industry publications; perusing LinkedIn; updating your resume with recent accomplishments; networking with colleagues or peers; and much more.
"If you wait until the rest of your work is done to do these things, there will never be enough time," she says. "Invest in your career first and everything else will fall into place. That’s worth skipping the snooze button for."