Something which we see a lot of in our time management workshops is people’s dreaded affection with the morning routine. All the things one has to do; emails, the commute, getting yourself and perhaps others organised, it can become a hectic and stressful start to the day. We here at Think Productive like to practice what we preach and as such, try and make the most of each morning. It sets you up for the rest of the day, so getting the right start is essential.
Some people believe they can sleep their way to happiness. However, when it comes to being productive in the morning, sleeping the right amount to still be happy, and yet efficient, may be more accurate. People draw focus to the number of hours you sleep, but what is more important, is the quality of those hours. Many successful people have stated they sleep 6 or 7 hours a night. Although, this isn’t a huge amount, you can put money on the fact that they make it a practice to have these hours uninterrupted and habitual. So, they wake up feeling fresh and ready to tackle the day, despite the hour they rise. Leading us on to the next tip.
Wake up early
We believe that time is an extremely valuable asset, so much so that we provide time management training. It’s often found that people complain about ‘not having enough time’ yet they simultaneously aren’t making an active effort to make better use of it. We all get granted the same number of hours each day and it’s up to us how we decide to utilize them. By waking up earlier, you will not only have more control over your morning routine, but more opportunities to do the things that matter to you, or perhaps the things you don’t get a chance to do throughout the day. Start to try and wake up gradually earlier, say 15 minutes a week. By the end of the month, you will have adapted to an extra hour each day to make time for the things important to you . Go on, try being a morning person.
Prepare the night before
When it comes to being more productive in the morning, a key tip is to reduce the amount of decision making. By preparing things the night before, it allows you to get up and move quicker without having to remember some essentials. This can be simple things like laying out your outfit or perhaps scheduling reminders or book a train tickets in advance to save time at the station. Taking 15-20 minutes before you go to bed, could save you an hour of hassle in the morning.
Eating is not only something we enjoy, but something which is important for us to function properly. It’s often found that by being rushed in the morning, a lot of people have a poor breakfast, or even skip it entirely. It’s the most important meal of the day for a reason. It sets your body up for tackling tasks by keeping you energized. Set aside time for you to eat a healthy meal each morning. It will help to counter the fatigue you may feel from making the shift to waking up earlier. Included in this is drinking plenty of water.
Jeff Sanders, author of the 5 AM Miracle, has a morning habit of drinking a liter of water within 45 minutes of waking up. Water is universally known to improve cognitive function, yet so many suffer from dehydration. Drink that water, eat that healthy food and get on with your tasks whilst feeling fantastic.
Now that you have some time free in the morning, what is it that you’re going to fill it with? A lot of research has gone into the positive effects of having some ‘quiet time’ each morning. Whether that’s reading, meditating or yoga. Meditation has shown to increase productivity as well as reduce anxiety levels. Studies have shown that by performing meditation, with only a 20-minute session, can help increase focus and calm the mind.
Moving in the morning can be a great source of energy and helps to set you up for the day ahead. It has also shown to improve focus and mental abilities. Working out will also release endorphin, proven to make you feel better. So, exercising for half an hour each morning will not only help you focus on the day ahead, it will make you feel better about tackling the difficult tasks you may have.
An integral task to being productive and getting things done, is to make clear what you’re going to be doing. The use of to-do lists have, and will always be, incredibly important. Nowadays there is a plethora of productivity apps, which can help you keep track of what you need to do. A simple method which I would recommend however, is the MIT theory. MIT standing for ‘Most Important Thing(s)’. When you wake up in the morning, spend a few minutes deciding what is that you must achieve that day to consider it productive. The premise is that this list should not be more than three things, with a highlight on one. This interlinks with a theory proposed by Gary Keller, the author of The One Thing. He believes that the best way to prioritize our never-ending to-do lists is to pick “the Domino Effect”. The Domino Effect is when a task that you complete or an action you take, will make everything else on your list easier to complete or even unnecessary. So, start with the most difficult task, and the other tasks will automatically become easier in contrast.
We all suffer from distractions, some of us more than others. However, there are two main distractions than can inhibit you from being productive each morning. Your phone and your emails. Be proactive and remove these things from your routine. Don’t check your emails for the first few hours of each day. Turn your phone to silent, or best, keep it in another room completely. This eliminates the urge to procrastinate and forces you to make the most of your newfound time. Start your day right, start it without distractions. If you’re interested in managing your emails better, why not take a look at our email etiquette training ?
Once you’ve made it into the office, there are still plenty of pitfalls you and your productivity could fall into. The team over at Resume.io have put together a great Infographic outlining 9 things to avoid in the morning.
By Miles Singleton
Miles is Think Productive’s Editorial Content Producer.
This post was originally published in April 2017 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.