Morning Routines that Lead to Productive Days

Put some structure to your morning and add some surefire tips from successful people that will increase productivity all day long.

By Sheryl Grassie

We all know the feeling of those magical mornings, when you sail through your routine, everything effortlessly falling into place, and then the rest of the day seems to follow suit. What if you could capture that experience on a daily basis? An intentional morning routine is almost a guarantee that your day will go better, and you will be more productive. So how do you set that up, and what elements really make it work? There are lots of best practices that can be added to your morning routine to support productivity and ensure the success of your day.

Productivity

Before we get into what the morning routine might include, let’s just briefly cover what a productive day means. A productive day is one where you feel good about yourself, feel good about your accomplishments, feel good physically, and feel good emotionally. You are probably getting the gist of it, which is to feel good. Think of your morning routine as a time to pump yourself up in the feel-good department.

Start by thinking about a block of time in the morning as an opportunity to choose between an okay day and a great day. Engaging in certain activities, both mentally and physically, have been shown to create a feeling of control and peace which equates to less stress, less feeling overwhelmed, and more ability to tackle the tasks of the day with ease. These can all add up to feeling good as you manage all your various commitments. Let’s walk you through some basics and some more nuanced choices which can augment your routine.

  1. Start by creating a timeframe: If you have to leave for work by 8:30 a.m. and you absolutely can’t get up before 7:00 a.m. then there is your timeframe. Obviously, there are things you will have to do to get ready for work during this time, but build into that 90 minutes some morning rituals that will increase your energy levels, and set the tone for a wonderful day ahead. The experts recommend anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes for your morning routine, more if you plan on getting in any substantial exercise. Whether your timeframe is 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., or 4:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., you can fit in what you need to do.
  2. Get ready the night before: Part of a successful morning routine is planning and doing things ahead. Think through what needs to happen in the morning, like breakfast, dressing, making a lunch, and getting kids ready for school. Do as much as possible the night before so your morning is not rushed. Pack a lunch, set out breakfast items, find homework, pack backpacks, and pick out outfits. Additionally, make a to-do list for your next day, and envision each step of the process going smoothly as you fall asleep.
  3. Wake up at a designated time: Decide what time you want to get up and do it. Set the alarm or train yourself to wake at a certain time and stick to it, no rolling over for a couple of minutes or pressing the snooze button. Get up at the designated time, get out of bed, and remain consistent with the same time daily throughout the workweek. Follow your body’s internal clock to determine what is the best time for you.
  4. Set a goal that makes you excited to get out of bed: I do this very simply by taking just a couple of minutes right when I wake up to think about what I am most looking forward to in my day ahead. It might be a particular project or meeting at work, it might be the new restaurant we are trying at lunch, it might be what I will see on my morning walk. I wait until I find something that makes me want to jump out of bed, and then I do. Other people construct very formal goals around achievements, money, relationships, or health and fitness. Maybe you are excited to get up and go to the gym for that favorite Zumba class that is really getting you close to a size smaller jeans.
  5. Make your bed: This is a small nuanced task that can make a difference in your day. Make your bed right when you get up, or if your spouse sleeps later, agree that they will make it when they get up. The task of making the bed sets a tone of accomplishment right from the start, it gives a mental impression of things being in order, and it is better to get into a made bed at night.
  6. Hydrate: After the bed is made, drink water! Plan on a liter in the morning before you leave for work. That is approximately ½ of what you need for the day and hydrating early has many benefits. It keeps your body lubricated and working well, it helps clean waste, and it moves through your body early in the day, so you aren’t up at night needing to use the bathroom.
  7. Eat breakfast (or not): With all the focus on biohacking, bulletproofing, and intermittent fasting, you may be opting out of breakfast. No problem, just be sure to hydrate. If you do eat breakfast, make it protein based and low or no sugar. Eat fresh whole foods like fruits and nuts that give long-lasting energy.
  8. Don’t engage with your electronics: As part of your morning routine commit to staying off your phone and computer. Don’t text, read email, or check social media until you get to the office. The point of the morning routine is to increase energy and set you up for a productive day. Electronics tend to drain energy and time. We have all had the experience of stopping to check our social media for one quick second and 25 minutes later you are pressed for time and rushing out the door. Think of it as a mini vacation from screen time and see if it doesn’t really help lead to a more productive day.
  9. Read: Morning is a great time to read. This can be one page from a motivational book, a short chapter, or just a quote for the day. Commit to reading something every morning, and have it be something that excites you and lifts you up. It might be a new recipe, information on a how-to project, or something from a favorite book. Reading in the morning is a hallmark of successful and motivated people. Put something positive in your consciousness as you start your day.
  10. Write: Write something every morning, and I don’t mean typing an email. Writing by hand is good for your brain and journaling is a meditative practice that allows you to get to know yourself better. Writing has many benefits, so take the time to journal your dreams, write about your goals, chronicle your relationships, or just write whatever comes to mind. It will open your creative channels and increase your imagination, which can help with productivity.
  11. Meditate: Learning to meditate is a process and can be daunting for many of us. Start small with just five minutes of quiet time in the morning. People who learn to meditate on a regular basis, especially at the start of their day, find it makes a big difference in how the day goes. They feel calmer, more centered, and more able to focus, just to name a few benefits you can get from meditating.
  12. Exercise: Morning exercise opens up all your mental and physical channels and gets you going. If like me, you find your days can get away from you and you can run out of time to exercise, getting it done in the morning ensures that it happens. Add it to your morning routine and feel better all day for having done it.
  13. Add things slowly and give yourself time for them to become routine: Don’t tackle a big complicated routine all at once. Decide on an item or two and start to structure your morning routine to include for example, 10 minutes of reading and making your bed. Then in a week or so, when that becomes habitual add in another element like writing or meditation.
  14. Keep it simple: Use this as a template for your entire morning routine. There is nothing to be gained from making things complicated or laborious. Simple routines will help you feel in control and keep stress low. Think about what you can take for lunch that doesn’t require much preparation, choose outfits that are easy to manage, choose easy goals like a 15-minute walk or 1 page of writing. This is a low pressure, do things you feel good about routine, that will carry forward.

Summary

Think about the morning as a threshold to your day. What do you want to take into that day, how do you want to think, how do you want to feel, and what do you want to accomplish? Incorporate practices from professional motivators and watch things in your life improve. Focused morning routines can lead to productive and happy days.


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