The moment your feet touch the floor each morning, you begin to set the tone for your entire day. So it’s worth asking yourself: Does my morning routine fuel productivity? Or does it just prime my brain for distraction and procrastination? Do I start the morning with intentional practices that energize and motivate me? Or do I scroll mindlessly on social media and create unnecessary anxiety?
The Sleep Journal conducted research on those who rise early and follow a consistent morning routine. These are more likely to maintain high levels of focus, alertness, and cognitive performance. Regardless if you have two hours or 30 minutes to spare in the morning, how you allocate this time will influence what you accomplish over the course of a workday.
Whether you consider yourself a morning person or not, these small but effective changes can have a significant impact on your productivity.
Acclimate your body to a consistent wake-up time
A recent survey of more than 1,000 participants found that observing a consistent wake-up time is just as crucial as establishing a consistent bedtime. In fact, those who rise at the same time each morning tend to feel 69 percent more satisfaction in their personal lives. 60 percent perceive more satisfaction in their work habits. And last, but not least, 49 percent are more satisfied by their finances.
Boost your productivity by creating a reliable, regimented wake-up time. This can be difficult for some, like parents, who don’t always determine when they wake up. If this is you, focus on the other strategies I share. All of these are helpful, regardless of when you wake.
Drink a glass of water before reaching for the coffee
If your first reaction in the morning is to instinctively fumble around for the coffee maker, you aren’t setting your day up for success. You don’t have to quit caffeine, but you do need to drink water before you pour your coffee. For example, drink a glass of water as you wait for the java to brew.
According to the Nutrients Journal, this is important because optimal hydration can:
- Reduce fatigue
- Elevate your mood
- Increase attention span
- Strengthen executive brain functions–adaptable thinking, problem-solving, working memory, organization, and time management.
While coffee is a stimulant, water is the real energizer.
Create a mindfulness routine instead of social media
There’s no benefit to immediately check social media in the morning. Jay Rai, a mindset empowerment psychologist thinks that’s actually a big mistake some of us make, because it:
- activates your stress response
- makes you susceptible to distraction
- short-circuits the creative state your brain is wired to enter as it moves from sleep to alertness
You may grab your phone and check email or social media for a quick hit of dopamine, but slowing your scroll first thing in the morning is key to your productivity.
Cutting this habit can be challenging. Establish a mindfulness practice, such as conscious breath work or meditation to take its place. This helps the brain transition into wakefulness with clarity and creativity, reports the European Journal of Neuroscience.
Cut down the number of decisions you have to make
According to a poll from the American Psychological Association, 32 percent of adults feel too stressed or exhausted to make even basic decisions such as what to eat or wear. This decision fatigue can sap the mental energy and stamina you need to focus on decisions that actually matter or impact your work.
To preserve your decision-making capacity, limit the number of choices you’re faced with each morning. Here are a few super simple ways to do that:
- Prep your meals in advance.
- Select your clothes the night before.
- Prioritize your to-do list, so you know which item to tackle first.
- Delegate tasks that you’re still holding onto.
Do something active before working
If you have a desk job, you likely spend most of your work hours sitting in front of a computer. Unfortunately, it’s not healthy for the mind or body to remain in a sedentary position for long stretches.
Before you sit down for the day, carve out time for physical activity—even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood. A study in the Nutrients Journal found that 30 minutes of exercise after breakfast can help increase cognitive function, leading to more accurate and efficient task performance. Here are a few more easy ways to move your body before work:
- Cardio or strength train
- Play with your kids or pets
- Walk to your favorite coffee shop or breakfast spot
Even if you cannot do it in the morning, exercise at any time during the day. Your productivity and general well-being will thank you for that 🙂
Start with your most difficult or time sensitive project
Attention spans and energy levels fluctuate between a series of peaks and slumps over the course of a day. This pattern is known as circadian rhythm. Building your workflow around it can result in a maximum of productivity.
While energy and attention are low in the earliest morning hours, they’ll reach peak levels by the mid-morning, according to the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. Shift your schedule to leverage this time frame most effectively.
Prioritize your to-do list to focus on the items that require the most effort and concentration or have the tightest deadline before anything else. You may even be able to do this at home, before going into the office, to make sure you can get that work done without distraction.
Begin your workday with a smart morning routine
When you start each morning consistently and intentional, the result is a productive, high-performance workday.
As you create your new morning routine, experiment with different practices until you find a structure that’s most effective for you. The point is to create habits that refresh, energize and motivate so you feel good all day long.