8 Steps For the Best Morning Routine to Improve Your Productivity
If you thought this was going to be an article about waking up at 5 am and doing everything perfectly, you might have clicked on the wrong link. We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach here.
What you can expect is the tools necessary to build the perfect morning routine for YOU.
You see, the way you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. So naturally, having a kick-ass morning routine is the best recipe for a productivity boost.
So whether you are a morning-lover or someone that dreads the sound of your alarm going off, there is a morning routine out there for you that will transform the way you start your day.
Why is having a morning routine so important for productivity?
Have you ever got curious and googled how to be successful? Chances are, you would have come across thousands of posts from highly regarded CEO’s talking about their morning habits. And that’s because it is scientifically proven that having a morning routine is beneficial to your productivity.
A recent study by McClean et al. found that morning rituals and routines boost energy and that when disrupted, energy levels and calmness become severely affected. And as we know, having a good level of energy is essential to aid your productivity.
And if you think only those who have regular sleep patterns can reap the energy benefits of having a morning routine, you would be sorely mistaken. Research by Kaplan et al. concluded that establishing a morning routine can help reduce the sleep inertia many insomniacs suffer from. Sleep inertia is the inability to get moving (due to lack of energy) in the first few hours of being awake. So being able to combat it is clearly a win for your productivity goals.
What other benefits can you expect from having a morning routine?
Besides the energy boosts powering productivity, having a healthy daily morning routine provides an extensive list of further benefits.
Firstly, having a regular waking up routine can help you lower your stress levels over a long period of time. A lot of us experience stress throughout the rest of the day, so having stability first thing in the morning is the perfect antidote.
Secondly, your healthy morning routine can help you improve your self-confidence. As you repeatedly achieve your morning goals, i.e. completing the daily tasks you have set out for yourself, you begin to grow in the self-belief that you can achieve more than you had realised.
Morning routines also help you improve your relationships. How so? Well, with all the healthy habits you are creating leading you to more energy and an improved state of calmness, you are able to dedicate more time and energy to showing your loved ones just how special they are to you.
And finally, those daily habits you are cultivating every day will help you expand your creativity. Because you will no longer need to think about what you are going to do first thing in the morning, the behaviour will be automatic. And that leaves more brain space free to use on more creative endeavours.
So, now that you know exactly how your healthy daily routine will revolutionise your life let’s get to work on building it!
Eight morning ideas for the best morning routine for success
Drink a glass of water as soon as you wake up
After eight hours of sleep, your body is extremely dehydrated (even if you don’t feel thirsty). The best waking up routine should start with one of the best morning energisers, which is to have a big glass of water first thing in the morning to wake the system up.
Experts recommend not having caffeine within the first hour of waking up, but don’t worry, a big gulp of water first thing is enough to get the job done!
You may have read a lot of articles raving about drinking lemon water, specifically first thing in the morning. There is no scientific proof to suggest that lemon water has any nutritional benefits over regular tap water, so don’t feel the need to do anything special with your water. If putting lemon makes it easier to drink first thing, though, then by all means, add it to your morning water!
Make your bed when you wake up
Your morning routine doesn’t have to be complicated to be an effective productivity booster. And what simpler way to start than to get up and make your bed?
The benefits go far beyond the aesthetic pleasure of a clean, praised room
Firstly, by making your bed, you give yourself a visual cue to avoid the temptation of crawling back in and going back to sleep. Because you went to all the effort to make it, the last thing you want to do is mess it up straight away.
Believe it or not, making your bed is also good for your self-esteem. It’s the first achievement of your day. You set out with a goal, and you completed it. Is it earth-shattering? No. But your brain doesn’t need to complete superhero feats to help you believe in your capabilities. It just cares about if you are able to follow through on your plans.
If you don’t believe it, ask U.S Navy Admiral William H. McRaven. He has written a book and given several public speeches about how the simple act of making your bed is the first step to making significant changes. And if it’s good enough for a Navy admiral, it’s good enough for you!
Lewis Howes, author of The School of Greatness, explains below the importance of waking up and making your beds straight away.
Get your body moving
If you’re not someone that works out in the morning, that’s ok. Getting movement in doesn’t have to be a full-on sweat session.
Everyone’s body works differently, and some people simply can’t cope with a strenuous workout first thing in the morning, whereas others thrive from it. So it is important to respect what your body can handle.
That said, all people can benefit from starting the day off with some movement. If you can get your workout in, great. If not, here are some alternative ideas for you.
Firstly, you could take a short, leisurely walk outside for 10 minutes. By doing this, you also get the benefit of fresh air. You can use this as an opportunity to practise some mindfulness either by paying attention to the world around you or doing some deep listening of an audiobook, podcast or some music.
If you are up for the challenge, why not try a two-minute burst of high-intensity cardio? Jumping jacks, jogging on the spot, and dancing are great examples of giving your energy a kick start.
If you prefer a slower start to the morning, do ten minutes of yoga or stretching. This will gently wake up your body and allow you to loosen up after a good night’s sleep.
Whichever you choose, make sure you make movement a part of your morning.
Read a chapter of a book
You don’t want to fill your head with social media noise or the stress of emails when you first wake up. It’s best to let your brain catch up with your own thoughts before adding anyone else’s in.
But, if you do crave information when you wake up, try reading a book chapter. It is a much gentler way to get the neurons firing, and unlike social media, you’re unlikely to stumble across bad news or toxic tweets.
Besides this, reading can be a great way to stimulate your mind and get geared up for a creative, productive day ahead.
Write your morning pages in a journal
Have you ever heard of morning pages? If not, prepare to have your morning changed forever.
From the book ‘The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron, morning pages are a form of journaling specific to the first hour of the day that aims to help declutter your mind and give space to productivity and creativity.
It’s simple. Every morning, you write your flow of thoughts down over three pages. Then, once you get to the end of the third page, you stop.
Depending on what’s going through your mind in the moment, this may mean you end up writing things such as “I’m so tired”, “I don’t know what to write”, or even “I really need to pee!”
The key is to a) not disturb or manipulate your thoughts, just let them flow naturally, and b) don’t stop writing until the end of the three pages.
You’ll find that once you get the thought clutter out of your head and onto the page, your mind feels clearer, and you feel much better prepared to face the day.
Who knows? You may even find that this exercise helps you push past problems you’ve been stuck on!
Guided meditation in the morning
You might ask yourself what is guided meditation. Well, guided meditation is one of the most popular subsets of mindfulness activities. Lasting as little as two minutes, this practice helps you tune into your body, feeling where you hold tension and helping you release it while learning not to dwell on your thoughts but rather stay present and using your senses.
Practising meditation regularly will help you reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and allow you to stay more focused throughout the day. Which inevitably leads to a more productive experience.
Get dressed and ready for the day
The ongoing pandemic has seen many of us working from home more often. And if you don’t find your flow, this may negatively impact your productivity.
You might be wondering what the point is of getting dressed if you aren’t going out anywhere, but the shift Is purely for mental health reasons as opposed to how you look.
Firstly, changing out of your pyjamas gets you out of ‘sleep’ mode and into ‘action’ mode. This helps set the tone for your intentions.
Secondly, spending the time in the morning to get yourself ready is an excellent way to improve your self-esteem. By getting dressed, doing your hair etc., you subconsciously tell yourself that you are worth the time and investment. That you are a priority in your own life, as opposed to just your output.
Eat your frog
Based on the popular book by Brian Tracey, ‘eat the frog’ is a fun phrase that means doing your most difficult or most dreaded task first. For example, if you are dreading doing a report at work, make it the first thing you do when you start.
By eating your frog, not only do you remove any dread you would have otherwise built up throughout the rest of the day, but you’ll also find the rest of the day easier in comparison. And as energy tends to dip as the day goes on, you’ll be thankful you got the worst thing done first!
Here is a video of Brian Tracey explaining the principles of 'eating that frog'.
The best morning routine starts the night before
Preparing everything you will need the night before is one of the best ways to help you establish your schedule. Especially if you are not a morning person.
So that means keeping a bottle of water next to your bed, getting your clothes ready, laying out your yoga mat, putting your journal on your table with a pen next to it – whatever you need to complete each activity.
Motivation doesn’t always come to us when we need it. And in those times, preparation is your saviour. After all, it’s a lot harder to make excuses not to when you don’t have to spend as much effort to do it!
Final thoughts on the best morning routine
If you are someone who has struggled with your productivity and getting started first thing in the morning, creating a personalised daily morning routine is precisely what you need to help you thrive.
But if starting a morning routine is a foreign concept to you, make sure you start slow and keep experimenting until you find the activities and durations that work best for you.
And above all, be kind to yourself. As with all routines, it will take a while until it becomes second nature. In the meantime, schedule enough time in the morning to do what you want without rushing, and be forgiving of yourself if you aren’t able to do everything you had planned on. Mornings already through up surprises without berating yourself!