TAKEAWAY: According to a recent TIME Magazine health special report, your very early morning activities can truly affect how the rest of your day goes. For starters, stay away from reading bad news in the morning. Alas, editors need to time the publishing of bad news, but when is a good time for it?


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Better morning habits can make your day, so says TIME in a health special part of its March 5 edition.

I am just catching up with that edition, a few days late, which means that maybe my mornings are too busy, and so must be my afternoon and evenings, for that matter.

But I am willing to learn, and to reinvent my morning rituals. To help me with this, the TIME piece offers details about willpower and how difficult it is for us to fight it.

“Self control is a matter of balance,” the author reminds us, as if we did not know. But, alas, there is a scientific explanation as to why we succumb to that blueberry muffin bigger than a grapefruit: it is called the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that says ‘I want, I want.”


But my interest in this piece, and how it plays a role in this blog today, is about a short sidebar that appears with the article and it is all about how what happens in your morning can make a world of difference to what happens with the rest of your day. Good insights, indeed, for everyone. This sidebar, written by Annie Murphy Paul , has some very common sense, and easy to adapt, tips for how you start your day:

Instead of jumping off your bed when that hated alarm clock goes off, Annie suggests that you stay in bed a few more minutes, lie awake in bed, following your thoughts where they lead, with pen and pencil nearby, to jot down ideas that are likely to filter down at that early time of the day. She says that our most imaginative insights are likely to arrive when we are “groggy and unfocused”.

There you go, a good tip. This one I am following starting tomorrow. With the deadline for completion of the manuscript for my digital book approaching in three weeks, I am armed with pencils and paper for these morning creative brainstorms. But, remember, when the alarm goes off, lie there, but don’t let your thoughts drift you back into sleep, or your day is NOT going to be off to a good start.

Annie then suggests that you linger a little longer in that hot shower, which also aids the thinking and creative process. Let those water needles on your face, back and head be like the wet accupuncture that will activate the creative soul in you. She suggests that when we follow this aquatic ritual, we “dismiss task-oriented thoughts such as, What will I say when I start that 9 am presentation to the editors today?, and concentrate on “mental dilation” (which she does not define, although I assume that mental dilation could be to just zero in on nothing, or, as I often do, think of the positives that I think are ahead in my day).

And by the way, don’t read bad news in the morning

This is a theme I am hearing often, especially in focus groups, by readers of all ages: they are telling us that they are tired of all the bad news in the papers and on the screens.

Well, I remind them, there is tons of bad news in this world, for real, it must be reported.

If, as someone once told me, the ultimate definition of news is “that which I hope happens to me, and that which I certainly hope does not happen to me,” then, is it possible that perhaps we are getting an overdose of the latter?

But Annie says it directly: “..... reading downbeat news hampers our ability to solve problems creatively.”

This should send a few editors into orbit: what to put on those morning newspapers that is NOT downbeat?

Facebook to the rescue

Is that why so many of our existing and potential readers start their day checking their Facebook page? Could that be the reason that before they turn to NEWS as we know it, they actually turn to NEWS as they themselves create it and report it?

It is probably much nicer to see that your friends LIKE what you reported last night. They liked that you enjoyed a glass of Chilean red, or that your child hit a home run in that Little League game, or that you lost five pounds——let’s hear it for willpower!

What’s not to LIKE about all those Facebook LIKES?

Along comes the tablet

This makes perfect sense with a statement that a reader in a focus group recently shouted out loud during a session: “I don’t want to use my iPad for anything unpleasant, and I don’t want to read about murders and suicide attacks on the iPad, and not at night when I want to relax.”

However, Annie tells us that we should not be exposed to that type of bad news in the morning either.

What is an editor to do?

Should news reports be purged to only include the positive? Should editors be concerned about striking a balance? Should items we include pass the LIKE, UNLIKE test?

Or, should our definition of good and bad news take us to the concept of timing; Should bad news be reported only online, in the middle of the day, when we are at work and can digest it faster and get it out of our mind quicker, as in “lean forward” time?

The challenge of storytelling today

What makes our times so interesting is that everything has to be redefined: what is news? At what time of the day do we report what? What platform will be used for what purpose?

I have a tip for editors facing these challenges: Lie in bed a little longer each morning, eyes open and pen and pencil ready for your creative outbursts to take seed. Then take that aquatic morning therapy session for mental dilation.

Perhaps a creative, morning-fortified you will be able to handle it all better.

I give that a thumbs up LIKE!

For those interested in reading all about willpower, here it is:

TIME, How Better Habits Can Make Your Day?
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2107493,00.html

Of interest today:

iPad reviewed: Like getting a new eyeglasses prescription
http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/03/15/ipad-reviewed-like-getting-a-new-eyeglasses-prescription/?source=yahoo_quote

TheMarioBlog post #970
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