Trying to crack the code of how to be more productive in 2022? Believe it or not, a good morning routine can make all the difference. By adjusting the way you wake up, you can create habits that lead to increased productivity, better organization, and even better emotional and physical health.
Here are our favorite tips for creating the most effective morning routine:
1. Get a good night’s sleep
This one shouldn’t be a surprise. Most of us know that adults need a solid 7 - 9 hours of sleep each night. In addition to a myriad of health benefits, a full night’s sleep can help improve your level of productivity because it enhances overall brain function, giving you better concentration and problem solving skills. And unfortunately, science has shown that you can’t really make up for poor nighttime sleep with naps or caffeine. So don’t neglect this important step. Set up your sleep environment and get yourself a comfortable mattress to make nighttime sleep a priority. It’s the foundation you need to begin a productive day.
2. Wake up early and at the same time each day
Now when we say early, we don’t necessarily mean before the crack of dawn (unless that’s your thing). The key is to wake up early enough to have time set aside for your routine. The point of this is to create some “me time” that you can guarantee will be available to you before other people or responsibilities are thrown at you. It’s best to allow enough time so you can practice your series of mindful morning habits, without being rushed. This will look different for each individual, but we recommend waking up anywhere from 1.5 - 3 hours before you need to get out the door.
And aim to get up at the same time every day. Why? Because by doing this consistently, your body clock will soon understand when it’s time to wake up, often without the need for an alarm (although alarms are still a good safety net). This allows you to feel more energized naturally when you rise.
3. Put your devices away
As mentioned in the previous step, the best morning routine is one where you can block out the rest of the world for a small period of time. If you wake up checking emails or social media, oftentimes without realizing it, you’re letting others influence your decision making and your expectations for the day. Don’t let someone else distract you from your most important tasks. Put away your phone, tablet, laptop, or other forms of communication so you can focus on your routine and daily goals.
4. Reduce decision fatigue
Decision fatigue is a term coined by psychologists that refers to the mental exhaustion we experience throughout the day after having to process and analyze information to make decisions, big or small. When you wake up after a full night’s sleep, your brain is awake, clear, and best prepared to make decisions. Therefore, don’t waste that precious morning brain power on choices like what to wear or what to have for breakfast. You can lay out your clothes the night before. Meal plan for the week, or perhaps even eat the same breakfast every morning. Nail down your getting-ready process so it’s simple and straightforward. You’ll end up with so much more mental energy for the things that really matter.
5. Clean up your space
It’s true. Visual clutter in your space can increase stress. This is why you should take a few minutes to tidy up your area each morning. This might mean cleaning up your home office and getting it organized for your workday. It might mean clearing off your kitchen countertops and putting away the dishes in the dishrack. It might be as simple as making your bed and folding your pajamas. If you’re going to be looking at it throughout your day or once you get home, it’s worth straightening up.
Plus, by cleaning things up, you’re starting your day with a feeling of accomplishment that’ll encourage you to continue on your productivity streak.
6. Drink water and eat breakfast
This all relates back to brain function and energy levels. Just as quality sleep is an important key to a successful day, so are hydration and fuel. Keep a water bottle next to the bed so you can drink some as soon as you wake up—your body will need it after 7 - 9 hours. Dehydration has even been shown to affect mental performance. So don’t skip this step!
A wholesome breakfast is also a must. It doesn’t have to be big or complicated, but you should always make time for it even if you’re not hungry. Eating something (preferably high in protein and low in sugar and refined carbs) after a long fast will kickstart your metabolism and essentially send your brain into “awake mode”.
7. Practice affirmations
If you’ve never considered practicing affirmations before, now is the time to give it a try! Reciting or writing down positive affirmations is a great way to set the tone for your day and create intentions for what you want out of it. For example, on a day when you have a lot to get done, you might begin your morning by mindfully repeating something like, “I see the opportunity in a challenge”. Crafting an “I” statement that is brief and positive will help shift your mindset in the right direction. If you’re not sure how to begin, check out our positive affirmations blog for a guide to get started.
8. Write down realistic daily goals
The key to creating an achievable to-do list is to focus on big picture tasks that are realistic. Don’t break things down to the nitty-gritty; this can quickly have you feeling overwhelmed or defeated before you begin. Aim to write down 3 - 5 important goals that you can accomplish today. If you’re not sure whether it belongs on your list, start by eliminating things that are “nice to do” but not time-sensitive or particularly important. Then prioritize and number the goals you have left. And if possible, make the most difficult task number one. And this brings us to our next tip.
9. Tackle the hardest task first
We highly recommend starting with the most daunting task first. Why? Because in the morning, you’ve got a reserve of mental energy and a clear mind, making this the best time to check off a big to-do. And once you finish, you’re left with an early feeling of accomplishment that will give you the momentum to keep going with the rest of your list. Not to mention, getting the hardest thing out of the way makes everything else feel like a piece of cake.
10. Be consistent
Taking these steps to improve your productivity is virtually pointless if you don’t practice them on a regular basis. So once you find a routine that works for you, keep at it. It may take some concentrated effort at first, but eventually, your morning routine will be something you look forward to and enjoy. You may even notice that you don’t feel right when you skip it.
How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? by the Sleep Foundation
What Lack of Sleep Does to Your Mind by WebMD
What doctors wish patients knew about decision fatigue by the American Medical Association
Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies by Psychology Today
5 benefits of drinking water in the morning by Medical News Today