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You know what it’s like. Your alarm blares and jerks you out of sleep and you realise you’ve overslept. You dash through your morning ablutions and grab a cereal bar as you run out of the door, harassed and on a mission to get to your morning meeting on time.
Wouldn’t it be better if instead, you came up with a fantastic morning routine that comes so naturally to you, that you don’t have to think about it? Imagine waking up naturally at 6 a.m., showering, preparing your favourite breakfast, and enjoying a cup of coffee. You even have time to catch up on the news and read a chapter of your favourite book to start to shift your brain into work mode.
Sound good? In the rest of this post, I’ll give you some tips to help you build a productive morning routine that’s bound to give you the best chance of making a success of your day. First, though, I’ll take you through some of the benefits of coming up with such a routine to explain why it is worth having one.
Let’s jump in.
Why create a productive morning routine?
Having a good morning routine can help get your day off to a great start and can give you the best chance of having a productive, satisfying day on which you feel you’ve really accomplished something. Far beyond giving us a sense of accomplishment, it can be good for your health too.
Let’s go through them.
When we feel we don’t have enough time to complete the tasks on our to-do list, our stress levels increase, and the sense of urgency we feel when we’re rushing influences our entire day.
By building a productive morning routine, you can start your day off on the right foot, reduce your stress levels and banish the sense of urgency and panic you feel when rushing. This can have long-term health benefits too. After all, elevated levels of stress can lead to an increased risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease if left unchecked.
If you devise a routine that gives you time for a morning workout and to prepare a nutritious, healthy breakfast, it can help you build and maintain healthy habits for your whole life. By getting up a little earlier, you’ll be able to swap sugary cereal for something like eggs, which will help you stay energised all morning long and power through the tasks on your to-do list.
Develop healthier sleeping habits
If you rise and go to bed at the same time each day, you will develop healthier sleeping habits over time and thereby improve the quality of your sleep. Getting better quality sleep will sharpen your mind, boost your work performance and energy levels, and improve your mental wellbeing.
Gain an edge over others
There are numerous stories of many successful people — from Jeff Bezos and Oprah Winfrey to Elon Musk and Warren Buffett — who swear by their morning routines. By giving yourself more time and making the most of your morning, you can achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself and gain a competitive edge over people who are not following a well-crafted morning routine.
Next, I’ll share my top tips for building one that’s right for you.
Tips for creating a productive morning routine
Crafting an entirely different routine can seem daunting. The good news is you can ease yourself into it. Start by waking just 15 minutes earlier than you would and introducing one or two new tasks or activities at a time, then carry them out each morning until they become habits you don’t think twice about.
1. Prepare for your morning the evening before
Before you wrap things up for the day, it’s helpful to have a clear idea of what you need to do on the following day. I’ve written before about the importance of having an end-of-the-day routine when setting up a home office and making a list of two or three things you want to achieve can set you up to be more productive. The next day, when you’ve completed the tasks you’ve set yourself, you are bound to be more productive throughout the rest of the day.
2. Set a regular time to retire at night and rise in the morning
You need to get enough sleep to have sufficient energy to face the day when you wake. So set a regular time to head to bed and a regular time to rise to help your body get used to your new schedule. If you can stick to the schedule even at weekends, your body will become so accustomed to waking at that time, you will start to do so naturally and can dispense with your alarm.
3. Make the bed
Making your bed each morning will help you resist the temptation to snuggle down under the covers for a few more minutes. That way, you can start your day without delay.
4. Make it easy to make decisions
When you’re preparing for the day ahead, you could also put out an outfit to wear so you don’t have to agonise over the choice come morning. Make sure you put out clothes that make you feel good and confident enough to take on the day.
5. Take a drink of cold water
Water perks you up in the morning and helps get your body into gear for the new day. Being dehydrated makes you lethargic and unmotivated, so it might be a good idea to keep a jug of water and a glass on your bedside table so that you can easily pour yourself a drink shortly after waking. To boost your energy, drink at least a little water before indulging in your scrumptious morning coffee.
6. Do your most difficult task first
First thing in the morning, the mind is clear, our energy levels are high and we’ve yet to be distracted. It’s a fantastic opportunity to work on the things that really matter before endless messages start hitting your inbox. If you get some crucial tasks crossed off your to-do list early, you’ll gain a sense of momentum and accomplishment that will carry you through the day.
So, use some of your energy reserves wisely in the morning to set yourself up for success.
7. Put your phone out of reach
Research conducted by CareerBuilder in 2016 indicates that mobile phones have the biggest negative impact on our productivity. Repeatedly checking your phone for messages affects your ability to focus and complete tasks. Keep your phone out of reach or turn it off while you’re trying to work.
8. Let there be light
Light prompts your brain to stop producing melatonin, the hormone that plays a role in regulating sleep. So, if you are struggling to wake up in the morning, turning on all the lights and drawing the curtains can help. The same signals are sent to the brain whether you use artificial or natural light to wake you up, so it doesn’t matter if you must make an early start and wake before dawn.
9. Practice meditation
The efficacy of meditation in helping to boost mood, increase productivity, and lessen anxiety has long been debated. Still, many successful people meditate in the mornings to mentally prepare themselves for the day.
Doing so can help you stay focused on completing one task at a time, instead of falling prey to many distractions. In this way, meditation may indeed help you to work more effectively and become more productive.
Exercise helps increase energy levels, improve motivation, and boost productivity throughout the day, so if you give yourself time in the morning to take even a little exercise, you can start your day off on the right note.
11. Take a cold shower
On mornings when you find it particularly difficult to wake, it might be a good idea to take a cold shower. Cold water increases your heart rate and alertness which can help get you going.
12. Prepare a healthy breakfast
Eating a healthy high protein breakfast can help you stay focused and productive all morning and keep you full for longer.
13. Give yourself enough time to go through your routine
Regardless of whether you work from home or in an office, it’s vital that you give yourself enough time to prepare mentally and physically for the day ahead by going through your routine and devoting some time to self-care.
Reading seems to be linked with success. Those who read regularly learn and achieve more and generally have a more comprehensive understanding of what’s going on in their industry. They thus have an advantage over their peers. So, set aside a few minutes for reading to give yourself the best chance of achieving all you want in life and work.
As you begin to introduce new activities into your morning, don’t forget to be flexible and try out new things until you’ve built a routine that suits you and lets you start every morning in the perfect way.
I hope you now have some ideas on how to create a fantastic productive morning routine that suits you and allows you to enjoy many a productive, satisfying day in which you can accomplish all you wish.
Try experimenting with the tips I’ve given above so that you can start building habits that will help you power through your work and thrive in both work and life.