Is one allowed to perform activities such as reading a secular book, or watching a secular movie before praying the morning prayer, shachrit?
I am not well-versed in the laws of morning prayers; but, from what I was able to find, there is no such prohibition in the halachic texts.
This TorahMusings article cites the following as a source that it's prohibited to write secular ideas:
Eshel Avraham 89:3 presents a logical rationale that any ordinary or temporary work permitted on chol hamo’ed is also permitted before prayer. Halichot Shlomo 2, notes 8 and 16, writes that this prohibition is a law based on precedence; one is forbidden to put his needs before praying. However, if the time of his regular minyan has not yet begun, he may be permitted to perform these activities despite the fact that amud hashachar has already arrived. It seems that in practice, one may be lenient regarding this when another doubt is added to the equation. For instance, when there is doubt as to whether his activity is an ordinary activity or a mitzvah-related activity and the time of the minyan in which he regularly prays has not yet arrived, it may be possible to be lenient.
Does "writing secular ideas" constitute a "greater" act than consuming secular entertainment thereby permitting it?