When you are not a morning person, but still wish you could be more productive, it can be frustrating to try and figure out how to make better use of your mornings when you would rather still be in bed. Starting your productive day early, though, is just a matter of establishing a routine you can stick to.
Here are five easy steps to help you create a more productive morning routine.
1. Don’t hit snooze, not even once
Waking up in the morning and getting your day started is rough, especially when you just so happen to hit the snooze button on your alarm one too many times. You may think that allowing yourself just five or 10 or 20 more minutes of sleep will make a significant difference in your energy levels, but that’s a misconception. You’re not really going back to sleep, knowing your alarm is going to start ringing again soon. You’re just delaying the inevitable.
Even sleep experts think snooze alarms are a bad idea. You already know your body needs sleep, and the majority of the time, subconsciously hitting the snooze button is almost like your body’s way of telling you it isn’t ready to wake up yet. If you plan your sleep schedule right, you won’t even feel the urge to hit snooze.
We all still do have those really rough mornings, though. Your best bet is to place your alarm as far away from your bed as possible, so you won’t be quite as tempted to hit snooze and fall right back asleep when it wakes you up. In order to have as productive of a morning as possible, you need to wake up – and stay awake.
2. Do something that wakes up and energizes you
For some of us, it seems like it takes forever to go from that groggy, still half asleep state we’re in directly after waking up to something resembling a fully functioning living organism. The quicker we can become alert and start preparing our brains for a full day of productive work, the better.
The only problem is, not every single suggested method for waking up and getting the ball rolling works to the same degree of effectiveness for everyone. Some people need two cups of coffee and a few pages of the morning paper before they can consider themselves fully awake. Others need to exercise first thing in the morning to get their day going. It really just depends on what you, personally, need.
Do some experimenting on your own and figure out the most effective way to get you feeling alert and ready to conquer the day. There is no right or wrong; everyone’s bodies and brains are different. You might only need a quick shower and a tall Starbucks coffee on your way to the office to get your day started. You know what’s best for you.
3. Don’t look at your day’s to-do list until a few hours after you wake up
Many of us, when we first wake up in the morning, want to be able to mentally prepare ourselves before officially starting the day. This might mean picking up the to do list we made the night before and going over everything that needs to get done before the end of the day. It might seem like a great idea on the surface, but in reality, it’s probably a habit that is causing you more anxiety than it is worth.
A productive morning routine involves easing into your day slowly, which means avoiding as many stressful triggers as possible. Sure, unexpected things happen – the coffee maker breaks; traffic is awful; you forget your keys to unlock your office door – but anything that can be avoided in order to avoid early morning stress, should be avoided at all costs.
If you can avoid glancing at the day’s task list until it’s absolutely necessary – e.g., you are sitting at your desk in your office and are ready to get to work – you are going to have a much more relaxed and stress free morning than you would if you poured over it first thing after waking up.
4. Hold off on looking at screens for as long as you can
This is an especially tough one for those who use their phones as alarms to wake up in the morning. You already have your phone in your hand, so it only makes sense to check some emails or look at Facebook before you actually climb out of bed and get your day started. Right?
Remember what we said about avoiding stress? Screen time can be stressful. We’re already a society suffering from chronic information overload. The last thing you need is to begin every single day shoving more information into your brain from your electronic devices than it can handle.
For the first hour you are awake, do your best to avoid screens. Try reading the newspaper instead of checking your phone or turning on the TV if you want to keep up with the news. Realize that your messages can wait to be answered. Just let yourself wake up slowly. You’re going to get plenty of screen time in later, most definitely.
5. No matter what, eat breakfast
There are about a dozen different common excuses used when people try to explain why they don’t eat breakfast. They are pressed for time; it’s too early to be hungry; they don’t know what to eat, or don’t want to show up to work on a full stomach.
If you want to engage in a more productive morning routine, you have to make breakfast a part of it. Making breakfast a routine, even eating the exact same meal every single morning, can help you start your day more productively. Not to mention breakfast will give you energy to survive the remainder of the morning, and can help you focus on tasks when you are finally awake enough to tackle them.
Mornings aren’t so bad once you have an effective routine in place. Productivity, here you come!