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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.

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