Elon Musk, who recently appeared on the Full Send podcast, revealed that what he says is a terrible habit. “I have a bad habit, and I think a lot of people do, I check my phone all the time,” Musk said. “Actually, it’s a terrible practice.”

Musk is talking about when he wakes up in the morning, and of course he’s right. It’s not uncommon for him to reach for his cell phone as soon as he wakes up. If he’s like most people, he probably won’t even get out of bed first.

He is correct in saying that it is a bad habit. There are several reasons, but the most important one is that the brain literally has an activation process. When you wake up in a sort of fog when you open your eyes, your brain waves change. You will continue to change until you are fully awakened, but the intermediate stages are important.

Picking up the phone for the first time skips an important stage of the process, instead priming and distracting the brain. Science has shown that morbidity levels can rise.

As the richest man on the planet and running Tesla and SpaceX, Musk clearly has a lot going on. He definitely doesn’t need more distractions.

Musk suggests that you need to work out to make better use of your time. “Me [need] “To work out and get in better shape. My phone.” Musk said.

Even if working out feels like the first thing you should do in the morning, you should definitely do something before you rush to work. In fact, of all the reading I’ve done about the morning routines of highly productive and successful people, one thing stands out — they don’t reach for the phone first. Do something else first.

Of course, exercise is one of them. Jack Dorsey, his CEO at Block, says he meditates for 30 minutes and then wakes up in the morning and exercises. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says he loves cycling. Bill Gates famously said he was walking on a treadmill while watching educational DVDs.

It’s definitely not easy. We are so conditioned to check our phones that for many, it is literally the first thing we reach for when we wake up. It’s as if we need to check it out soon because we can’t wait any longer.

However, if I had slept another half hour, I would have been waiting for whatever was on my phone. Just because it’s happening doesn’t make it any more urgent.

The key is to do something else before you grab your phone and dive into email and Slack. It could be exercise, as Musk suggests. If you don’t like exercise, find something else to do.

Get ready for the day by reading a book, going for a walk, or taking a shower. All of these things help your body and brain deliberately prepare for the day beyond just picking up your phone and tapping the app with the most red dots.

The opinions expressed herein by Inc.com columnists are their own and not those of Inc.com.



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