9 Simple Ways to Transform Your Morning Routine and Boost Productivity
What you do as soon as you wake up can make a huge difference in the productivity of your entire day.
Tim Ferriss makes his bed, meditates, does push-ups, writes in his journal and drinks water.
Gary Vaynerchuk’s morning ritual takes three hours to complete.
The way you start your morning often dictates how the rest of your day goes. Smart entrepreneurs know they need to take advantage of this important period of time to maximize their energy levels, maintain focus, increase their productivity and prime themselves for a busy day.
Consider adopting any or all of the following nine morning ritual strategies for a more productive day.
1. Commit to good sleep habits
If you still struggle with poor sleep, address the problem now. A lack of sleep increases stress and dampens the amygdala’s ability to regulate powerful emotions such as anxiety, anger and fear. It’s also implicated in the development of serious chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
If you’ve tried all the usual environmental solutions for a better night’s sleep and are still struggling to get an average of seven to eight continuous hours of sleep, consult with your doctor about exploring other options.
2. Reduce friction
A great morning ritual actually begins the night before. Make it as easy as possible to stick to the routine you create. Lay out workout clothes, and set up the coffee or tea brewing equipment the night before. Put your journal and favorite pen on the bedside table if you want to start a morning journaling habit.
Anticipate the practical obstacles to adhering to your new morning ritual, then create workarounds to reduce any distracting tasks. That way, you'll have as much time as possible to focus on the meaningful parts of your morning routine.
3. Ditch the screens
By now, most of us know that scrolling through the various distracting feeds on our smartphones and tablets at night is detrimental to our good sleep habits and can lead to recurring insomnia. By the same token, focusing on screens first thing in the morning can scatter your attention, just when you’re trying to focus on yourself.
Resist the urge to chase another meaningless hit of dopamine from the endless scrolling feed of content, at least until the rest of your ritual is finished. Instead, mindfully and consciously choose to focus on yourself.
4. Drink water
Drinking a full glass of water first thing in the morning can help improve digestion, maintain a healthy weight, improve your mental focus and mood and more. One study even suggests that increasing the amount of water you drink will help improve your cardiovascular health.
And you might want to save the coffee or tea for a bit later in the morning. Science shows our cortisol levels (and hence our natural alertness levels) are highest between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m. To make the most of the caffeine you’re imbibing, hold off until 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Related: How to Wake Up Early
5. Make your bed
Start your day by making your bed, and you’ll begin every day with a sense of accomplishment. That can in turn create a sense of momentum and increase your interest in getting the next thing done. What’s more, you’ll be 19% more likely to get a good night’s sleep that evening.
6. Move your body
Whether it’s a 30-minute run, some simple calisthenics (20 jumping jacks and 10 push-ups, say) or a 15-minute whole-body sequence of yoga poses, a little physical movement in the morning can get your day off to a healthy start.
Many people find that working out in the mornings actually increases their physical energy throughout the day. And just as with making your bed, some morning movement helps instill a sense of accomplishment that will help keep you performing at a higher level.
Would you like to start your days by reducing stress, increasing focus and concentration, building and maintaining good mental health, improving sleep and managing chronic pain? One morning ritual can accomplish all these benefits and more.
If you’re new to meditation, start by setting aside 10-15 minutes. Sit with your back straight and feet on the floor, then close your eyes and count your breaths. You can also explore guided meditations if that feels more comfortable for you.
Whether you call it a daily diary, a log, a journal or morning pages, a bit of freewriting in the morning can help you sort through the mental chatter and get clarity on your plans, goals and objectives. Simply set aside a few minutes to write out your thoughts, ideas, dreams, visions, fears and plans. It’s a great way to spot fresh opportunities and looming challenges before they become critical and urgent.
9. Preview your day
To increase your productivity during the day to come, make the last step in your morning ritual a transitional one that lets you mentally reattach to your business, as one 2019 study found. One smart way to do this is to create a habit of previewing your day.
Take a few minutes to look over your calendar and to-do list. Make note of your most critical tasks, and sketch out plans to get those things done first. Previewing your day like this helps you psychologically reconnect to “work mode” and tighten your focus back on professional obligations.
As a final note, it's probably not a good idea to try all of these right way. Pick the "low-hanging fruit" first. Like most people, you might find certain productivity tips more attractive than others. Do what feels most natural first, then consider scheduling out the more challenging ideas here at different times, so you don't get overwhelmed.
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