What does your morning routine look like? Would you rather roll back into your blanket and wait for the last moment to get out of bed, or do you like to wake up early, have a mindful morning routine, or maybe even go on a morning run?
While for many of us waking up early may be very challenging, science shows that the famous proverb is true: the early bird does get the worm.
Why be a morning person
A research conducted by professor Christoph Randler revealed that morning people have an advantage when it comes to business and studying success. They have better grades, enroll in better colleges, and have better job opportunities. Professor Randler says that in the morning, people are also better at anticipating and solving problems, they’re proactive, have better job performance, higher wages, and career success.
What’s discouraging is that professor Randler claims that some 50% of a person’s chronotype (being a morning or an evening type) is due to their genetics. But what’s encouraging is that the other 50% is all up to you.
Besides professor Randler’s study, other studies have shown that morning people tend to be happier and healthier compared to “night owls”. They also have a higher GPA and seem to be very well organized.
In a 2018 study, researchers revealed that tweets that were posted on Twitter between 5 and 6 in the morning, correlated with measures of analytical thinking, the language of drive, and personal concerns.
However, even if you’re not an early bird by nature, you can build a productivity morning routine. After all—there’s definitely hope for improving upon your 50% chance!
That’s why we’ve prepared a list of productivity morning routine tips to help you get the best out of the brightest part of the day.
Lose the snooze
While many of us think that those additional 5 to 10 minutes of sleep in the morning are crucial, the reality is quite the opposite. Why?
In the evening, when our head hits the pillow, ideally, we fall asleep in a couple of minutes. After sailing off to dreamland, our brains go through five cycles:
Two stages of light sleep;
Two stages of deep sleep;
REM stage—when we dream.
These cycles repeat every 90 minutes throughout the night.
In the morning, when your alarm goes off, you’re usually near the end of your REM cycle. Assuming you went to bed on time and slept some 6-8 hours, you should be good to get up. However, when you hit the snooze button and fall asleep again, you’re going back to the REM cycle. When the alarm goes off the second, third, fourth time, you’ll simply become exhausted from starting and cutting that REM phase over and over again. This is called “sleep inertia”. The result? Disorientation, fatigue, languor. So, instead of hitting that snooze button, help yourself and just get up.
If your work starts at 9, and you’d like to implement a healthier morning routine that requires two or three hours of your time before taking off, that means you’ll need to wake up at 6 AM. If you’re not the morning type of person, this can be tricky, and it can get particularly challenging in wintertime.
When someone wakes you up, and you see that it’s still dark outside, your brain thinks it’s still night. Luckily, it’s possible to trick our brains: according to Dr. Christopher Winter from Martha Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center, simply turning bright lights on the moment you wake up can trick your brain into thinking that the sun is up.
Liquids come first
What’s the first thing you put into your mouth after waking up? Coffee? Smoothie? A cigarette maybe? There’s something so good, yet so basic we often tend to forget about—water.
Drinking water first thing in the morning can speed up your metabolic processes by 30%, and the effects last for one hour. Some studies even recommend drinking warm water to benefit later digestion. Plus, it helps our bodies recover from dehydration, given that the lack of water in our organism lowers our cognitive performance.
So, if you want to have a better performance throughout the day, drink your water first.
Start your day on a positive note
Once you’ve managed to get out of bed and drink your warm glass of water—you’re on a streak.
Write down three amazing things you’re grateful for that day, create a plan for the day, envision small things that will make you happy, and finish your journaling session with a positive affirmation to boost your confidence and achieve calm and peace within. It takes only five minutes or less, and it’s truly an essential part of a productivity morning routine.
If you live with a friend, your partner and/or children, is there anything more beautiful, inspiring and productive than spending some quality time with them first thing in the morning and counting your blessings together?
Mentioning meditation usually brings up pictures of Buddhist monks, yogis, or other deeply spiritual persons. However, you don’t need to be any of these people to gain significant benefits from practicing meditation.
Meditation is one of the best ways to start a new productive day, as the process itself stimulates a gland in our brain to secrete endorphin—the famous feel-good neurotransmitter. Plus, in the morning, our mind is uncontaminated and free, which enhances all the amazing benefits of meditation.
Including from 5 to 10 minutes of meditation into your productivity morning routine can bring you immense benefits in terms of focus, energy, and a sense of overall well-being.
If you don’t know where to start with your morning meditations, check out this, this, this, or this link.
Practice positive affirmations
Another amazing productivity boost is kickstarting your day with some self-nurturing positivity.
Do you already practice positive affirmations? If not, we recommend you to try and discover the power of practicing upbeat affirmations daily. Many successful people do it, and even claim that it was their belief in the power of a positive mindset that brought them where they are now.
The above-mentioned Five Minute Journal is one way of implementing a positive mindset into your productivity morning routine. You can also practice affirmations through visualization, or talking to yourself in front of the mirror.
It’s important that you choose several affirmations that apply to you, and repeat them to yourself every morning.
I am unique;
I am worth loving;
I am fearless, and so on.
At first, it may seem silly, but as you go on, you’ll notice how your mindset is shifting towards greater positivity. If you want to learn more about how you can practice positive affirmations, check out this blog post.
Have a healthy breakfast
“Eat your breakfast, share your lunch with a friend, and give your dinner to your enemy.” Proverb
There’s a good reason why people say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Apart from all the well-known health benefits, like weight control, keeping your metabolism on the clock, lowering the levels of bad cholesterol, and lowering the odds of getting diabetes, heart disease, or becoming overweight, breakfast has some amazing psychological benefits as well.
However, what you eat is also important. Experts say that carbs combined with proteins are the winning breakfast formula. Carbs give you the energy to kickstart the day, while proteins make you feel full until lunch.
It doesn’t have to be complicated: simple granola with home-made oat milk or yogurt, porridge with cashew butter, avocado on sourdough toast, fresh fruit, a smoothie with a mix of fruits and veggies. The options are endless–get creative with what you have in your fridge.
Do some reading
This doesn’t have to be a part of your everyday morning routine, you can choose certain days of the week that will start with a few pages from the book you’re currently reading, news about innovations in science or technology, poems that inspire you, or your favorite author’s latest blog article.
But, why? Well, reading is correlated with a whole bunch of productivity-related habits, skills, and abilities. For example, research shows that fiction readers are much better at understanding other people, their emotions, and their stories. Generally speaking, they’re more empathetic.
Furthermore, reading alleviates stress, by helping us reduce our blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress.
If you’re wondering how and when to implement reading into your productivity morning routine, here are some suggestions:
Read on the days when you’re not exercising;
Read on public transportation if you’re using it;
If you’re really enthusiastic about reading every morning, consider adding half an hour into your morning schedule solely for this activity.
Eliminate scrolling, texting, and watching videos
What’s the first thing you do after opening your eyes? If the answer is “check your phone,” then our answer is: “put it out of your hand’s reach”.
Mobile phones and other gadgets and all the amusing content that comes with them are unbelievable energy drainers and distractors. That’s why you should try to eliminate scrolling, casual texting, and watching other fun or disturbing content from your morning routine.
If your Facebook or Instagram timeline is the first thing you check in the morning, you’re redirecting your precious time, energy and mindful attention from yourself and your tasks to other people’s lives. It’s fine to spend some time doing this, checking on your friends or accounts that inspire you, but not the most productive part of your day.
The same rule applies to the moment you arrive at your office: research shows that one of the greatest productivity killers at work is constantly checking your phone. So, if possible, turn off constant notifications and leave social networks for after working hours, and seize your morning.
Prioritize the most important tasks
If you’re already using The Productivity Planner, you know how tricky it can sometimes be to set priorities, especially if your plate is full. Should you go to the dentist before or after the meeting with investors for your new project? Should you write a new blog article first, or fix bugs on your website? Decisions can sometimes be difficult.
That’s why The Productivity Planner has “the most important task for the day” section. So, what is the most important task for the day?
According to Josh Kaufman, the best-selling business author, the most important tasks (MIT) are critical tasks that bring the most significant results for that day.
Every day can have only one or two of these tasks, while the rest are called “additional tasks”.
In practice, MIT is either a task with the closest deadline or the most difficult thing you have for that day. If you have a hard time deciding which of the tasks from your to-do list is your most important task, ask yourself this:
What is the most important thing I have to do today?
Which task from my list would make a huge difference if done today?
For example, if you have a task with an urgent deadline which is easy to complete and it’s not very important for you in general, you can leave it for later. The task you should focus on first is the one that is difficult, urgent, and important.
As Gina Trapani, founder of Lifehack.com nicely put it, in the morning, your mind is clear. You come to the office and it’s usually quiet, you’re not yet pulled into various different directions. The morning is a unique opportunity for prioritizing the task that matters to you the most before the regular workday madness takes its toll.
Do you have a similar experience?
Getting the most important thing done first thing in the morning will both give you momentum and a sense of accomplishment before the clock has ticked 10 AM. Your brain and body are the strongest during the early hours, so make sure to add MIT into your productivity morning routine.
As the end of the working day is getting closer, start thinking about the next day.
Open your Productivity Planner and check what is the most important task for tomorrow. What are the additional tasks? How are you going to go through them? What can you do tonight before you sign off?
In order to make time for morning exercise and engaging in mindful activities like meditating and filling out a gratitude journal, prepare everything you need for the next day today. You can thank us later!
Wrapping it up
Regardless of whether you’re a morning person or not, you can still have a productivity morning routine. Start off with creating healthier habits, such as waking up with the first alarm, drinking water first thing in the morning, exercising, and having a healthy breakfast. Then start working toward building more productive and positive habits: keeping a gratitude journal, practicing affirmations, reading, and controlling when and how you use your mobile phone, or learning how to prioritize better.
Here is a simple set-by-step guide, inspired by the Best Year Journal practice, to help you set achievable, attainable goals in four steps. Change the way you plan your future. Set objectives, aims, and plans you can actually stick to.