The Harry Max Boot-up Protocol (How to get going in the morning)

Harry is one of the smartest people I know, and gets a ton done. When he agreed to share his morning ritual with me, I was grateful. And when I mentioned it to some folks at SXSW, they asked me to write it up. It’s a simple way to collect what you need to do, and determine what priority they hold.

First, do not open you email. This must be done before anything else.

1. Role Based Scan.
To do this each morning, first you’ll need to create a mental map of all the roles you play in your life: wife/husband, father/mother, friend, colleague, partner, boss, employee. Then each day you go over that to see if there is something you should be doing in that role.

2. Collecting Yesterday’s Bits and Pieces
We all have ways that we keep notes on things we want to remember, be they to do’s, books or ideas. Harry keeps on them on his 3×5 pad, so he goes through them. You can go through whatever you do. I have a notebook, and I write sentences and put a little checkbox next to each, so I would collect those.

3. Review Calendar
Look back three days, look forward three days. Was there a big meeting that requires follow up? Will there be one that needs preparation?

4. Yesterday’s emails
Finally you can open email, but switch to the sent folder. Now look through yesterday’s emails quickly, and see who you owe followups, and who owes you one.

5. Process into actionable list
Harry uses Remember the Milk, but there are many tools here. He categorizes all that he has collected. His categories are not “work” and “home” but “next” “attention” “ping” i.e. what needs to be done with each item.

6. Batteries
What is the one physical thing you need to make your day go smoothly. For Harry, it’s making sure his recording devices has batteries. Could be a laptop cable, your phone… in my case it’s a red notebook I’ve been using for my brain lately. I leave that at home, I’m in trouble.

7. 3 avoidances
What are three things I’m avoiding. Prioritize them against the rest of the day.

Now you can open email, and start work on your priorities.