Everyone has a morning routine. Perhaps yours involves turning off the alarm several times before getting out of bed. Or maybe it includes sitting with coffee for fifteen minutes before engaging in life. Some people jump right out of bed and get their morning run in. Some morning choices lead to more efficiency than others. If you would like your day to be more productive, read on.
Starting your day with gratitude primes the brain to see good things. When you start on a positive note, the rest of your day tends to follow suit. You could do the Loving Kindness meditation or something like that. Or you could just mentally say a few words of thanks for whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, but it should be sincere.
There are lots of reasons to drink sixteen to twenty ounces of water first thing in the morning. First, you’ve been asleep for eight hours or so while your kidney and liver were busy detoxifying your body. This leaves you dehydrated. The brain is 76% water. Drinking water sends water to your brain. When it’s low, you can feel drained, moody, and headachy. Drinking water in the morning can also increase your metabolism and help with weight maintenance. You may also sleep better.
Take Care of Hygiene
Most of us don’t need a reminder to brush our teeth or take a shower. When you start skipping these things, it’s a bad sign. Even if you have to drag yourself to go through the motions, do it. You will feel better later in the day for having made the effort. If an opportunity comes along, you will be fresh faced and ready to meet it.
Your body was still for the last eight hours. Light exercises, like stretching, breathing, joint rotation, or walking helps to gently wake up and prepare for the day. Some exercises are good for moving lymphatic fluid which is crucial for detoxification and mood. You don’t have to do a lot. Moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps you feel calmer and more in control throughout the day. It also combats the health risks related with a sedentary lifestyle.
Doing a light, brief exercise routine in the morning doesn’t mean you can’t do more or a heavier workout later in the day. The purpose of making this part of your morning routine is to care for the body and mind. If you have trouble fitting a full workout in, doing a light workout means that exercise never has to be completely sacrificed.
There is a saying “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” This makes sense because your last meal was eight to fourteen hours ago. Your body needs fuel to get through the day. Eating like a king doesn’t mean sugar and fat. Make sure it’s fresh, alive food that will nourish you. If you eats sweets and carbs, you’re likely to be sluggish and hungry rather than energized.
Write Down Your Goals
Before you do any work, write an abbreviated plan of the day. This includes your big picture goals and three most important things. If you would like to also make a to do list, go ahead and add that, but only if you are afraid you might forget something. Writing down your big picture goals keeps your eye on the prize so that you stay motivated. Writing your most important tasks for the day usually means that you will knock those out first. When you do this, you almost always feel that your day was wildly productive. It also helps you move steadily in the direction of your big goals.
You don’t want to move through the day feeling frazzled. This is why you don’t want to make a to do list of every little thing you want to accomplish today. If you never get to the end of the list, this can leave you feeling defeated. You want to set up the game so that you always succeed and feel productive at the end of the day. If you’re like me, once you knock out the three most important things, the rest is a breeze.
It may help to keep this in a notebook. At the end of a week, you may get a lot of self-recognition. At the end of a month, you could be feeling really good about all you’ve accomplished. It may help you to feel not only productive, but capable. For those who feel lazy or have low self-esteem, this is a great way to show yourself that it’s just not true.
No Time Wasters Until You’ve Eaten a Frog
Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” The “frog” is the thing that you don’t want to do. If you sit down to watch tv, check email, or start gossiping with your friends, you can procrastinate the morning away. You can look up and see that it’s 11:00 a.m. and you haven’t done anything productive yet! If you start your day by doing something worthwhile, it’s easier to stay in motion and on track. That way when you hit the tv or email, it’s a quick drive by instead of lost hours.
Notice that I said write down three most important things you want to do today, but then I said to eat a frog. Why only a frog if there are three most important things? First, not all of the most important things are going to be unpleasant. Also, anyone can do one unpleasant thing. If you had to do three unpleasant things each day, you probably wouldn’t do it. Once you get it done though, it’s easier to move on to the next one. So, even if you do all three right away, only hold yourself responsible for completing one as part of your morning routine. The others can be done at any time.
I know a lot of people think they are good multitaskers. There really is no such thing. The brain can only deal with one thing at a time. When you do more than one thing, not only does your quality suffer, but your life suffers because you aren’t really present for any of it. So slow down. Be where you are, doing what you are doing. Live your life. Don’t phone it in.
Now, you might be looking at all that and thinking, “Whew! That’s not a morning routine. That’s my whole day!” I get it. It looks like a lot, but it really isn’t. Once you make it a habit, you can do all of this in an hour or less. If that still sounds like a lot, try it for two weeks. See if it doesn’t result in better productivity, concentration, energy, and a better mood. You can always go back to the way that you were. If it works for you, you’ll gain a lot over time. If it doesn’t, you’ve only wasted a little bit of time. So, why not try it?