Skip to main content

Never do this in the morning

By Mel Robbins
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Mel Robbins says checking email on your phone is a bad way to start your day.
Mel Robbins says checking email on your phone is a bad way to start your day.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mel Robbins: Most Americans hit snooze button, reach for phone to see e-mails
  • She says these habits are destructive; better to wake up and plan priorities for the day
  • E-mails are other people's priorities and requests; they shouldn't dictate what you do
  • Robbins: Carve out a half hour each day to tackle your top three priorities

Editor's note: Mel Robbins is a CNN commentator and founder of inspire52.com, providing daily "good news" stories and viral videos. She hosts "The Mel Robbins Show" Sundays from 7-9 p.m. on WSB 95.5 in Atlanta and News 96.5 in Orlando. In 2014, she was named Outstanding News Talk Radio Host by the Gracie Awards. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- Most adults admit to the defeating habit of hitting the snooze alarm every morning.

Experts have been debating the pros and cons of the habit for years, weighing both short- and long-term effects on the body and mind. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, "Why You Actually Should Hit The Snooze Button," suggests an extra nine minutes of sleep can help certain types of people to "gently awaken the mind." I don't buy it, and never will.

I'm just not a snooze alarm kinda gal. I prefer to rip the bandage off and push myself out of bed as soon as I hear the alarm.

Mel Robbins
Mel Robbins

Getting out of a warm bed is never fun, and it certainly doesn't become any easier after you've hit the snooze button several times. The truth is it's guilt that finally forces you from the sheets, yet you still don't want to have your feet hit the floor and seize the day.

So, the piece got me thinking ...

The snooze alarm might make you late or kill your plans to exercise, but it doesn't ruin your day. There's something else that you probably do (right before you push yourself out of bed) that is not only your worst habit, but completely horrendous for your well-being, happiness and success.

Think back to this morning: What's the first thing you did when you woke up?

Brush your teeth? Nope. Make coffee? Guess again.

You reached for your phone.

The question is: Why? You aren't even vertical yet. You haven't even started the day and there you are, cellphone in hand like the world won't start turning until you get lost in the screen.

Is there some text that's so important you must see it immediately? No. If there were a true emergency, you'd get a call. Is there an e-mail you need to send before you wipe the sleep from your eyes? Of course not, but you open your inbox anyway.

You aren't alone.

Recent studies suggest almost 83% of millennials sleep with their phones, and the Pew Research Center study found that 65% of all adults sleep with their phone on or right next to their bed (and that study was three years ago, so likely the number has grown).

So, why is reaching for the phone so detrimental?

Simple. There's nothing in your inbox that will help you take control of your day or serve your goals.

What are e-mails anyway? E-mails are everyone else's junk: things to do, things to buy, things to add to your to-do list, meetings to attend, places to be, reminders of deadlines. They amount to a long list of stuff that "other" people want you to pay attention to.

By checking your texts or e-mails first thing, you just let someone else set your priorities before you've had breakfast.

How you start your day sets the tone for your day, and by reaching for your phone you surrender control to others -- and your well-being, success and happiness takes a hit. Those e-mails seek your time, attention, help and brain space. It's no wonder you start your day feeling overwhelmed, sensing pressure and being in a reactive mode rather than a proactive mode.

I no longer sleep next to my phone. It's in the kitchen, close enough for me to hear the alarm and far enough away so that by the time I reach the kitchen, I'm not going back to bed. I turn off the alarm, and don't pick up the phone again until I've done a few other things to put myself in control and my priorities first.

If your phone doesn't receive e-mails, you aren't off the hook. I guarantee you either fire up the computer or tablet as soon as you leave your bedroom or as soon as you arrive at work. That means you check your inbox before you even get organized. Do not ever do that again. Before you read about a "25% off sale at Zappos," before a reminder alerts you that a PowerPoint is due, before a colleague turns you into her errand boy, take control of your day.

Don't check e-mail until you've had a chance to figure out your top three priorities for the day and perhaps, had a cup of coffee or tea with a clear mind.

Do a "brain dump" for five minutes by listing all projects, to-dos, reminders and priorities on a piece of paper. Then, highlight the top three things on the list to deal with today, things that matter most to you.

Forget about everything else you wrote down. This starts your day on the right footing. Next -- still without visiting that inbox -- open your calendar (I use an 8x11 size week-at-a-glance calendar) and find a 30-minute block in your day when you can focus on your top three things, uninterrupted.

It doesn't matter when that block happens. It can be the first 30 minutes at work, waiting in the car for your child's soccer practice to end, or after you watch a ball game tonight. Find the time and schedule it.

By not reaching for the phone and figuring out your three big priorities for the day, you've just taken control of your day and put your priorities first. You may now open your inbox.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:10 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
If Obama thinks pushing out Hagel will be seen as the housecleaning many have eyed for his national security process, he'll be disappointed, says David Rothkopf.
updated 8:11 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
The decision by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision at night was dangerous, says Jeff Toobin.
updated 3:57 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
China's influence in Latin America is nothing new. Beijing has a voracious appetite for natural resources and deep pockets, says Frida Ghitis.
updated 4:51 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on June 14, 2014.
The decision to extend the deadline for talks over Iran's nuclear program doesn't change Tehran's dubious history on the issue, writes Michael Rubin.
updated 2:25 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
updated 7:44 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
updated 6:29 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
updated 8:34 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
updated 3:12 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
updated 10:13 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
updated 5:56 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
updated 3:11 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
updated 8:45 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
updated 8:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
updated 10:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
updated 12:59 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
updated 9:58 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
updated 4:41 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
updated 8:21 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
updated 7:16 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
updated 11:07 PM EST, Sun November 16, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT