Let me guess what your morning routine looks like. Does it go something like …
Step 1: Wake up to the alarm you set on your mobile phone or device, which is likely lying in bed with you (since you were probably checking email or reading last night).
Step 2: Grab said device and—before you even lift your head from the pillow—you begin checking social media and emails.
Step 3: Commence stressing out over that less-than-pleasant email from THAT client, or feeling depressed that your super-fit buddy has already posted that he finished a 3-mile run this morning. You do all this before you even get out of bed.
Step 4: After burning too much time scrolling through your phone, you rush through your shower, stress out over what to wear, fill your to-go cup with some hot coffee, and you’re flying out the door.
What’s missing here?
Well, one thing, for sure: Intention. So far, you have done nothing but react. You reacted to your alarm, to your client email and to your social media feed. None of these were positive reactions and none of them particularly motivating. What a horrific launching pad for your day. No wonder you’re stressed.
Without establishing intentional, controlled structure to your morning, you are giving up power over your own life—essentially living in a controlled chaos. You run around reacting, instead of purposefully achieving.
Sure, routines sound … well, routine. Boring. Predictable. But having a plan really helps us manage the way we use our time—rather than spending our days simply reacting to outside forces. So, if you’re ready to live with intention, keep reading. (Even if you’re not…keep reading!)
Why follow a morning routine?
For any habit to truly stick, you have to figure out WHY adopting that habit is good for you in the first place. For starters, science shows that people are generally most productive during the first two hours after they wake up. Unfortunately, most of us spend this critical time on things that don’t require our full brainpower—browsing through social media, commuting to the office, checking emails, etc.
When you attempt to launch into the more pressing tasks later in the day, focus is a lot harder to come by. By the time you start the really important work, you’ve already had to make 100 small decisions, draining your energy and willpower.
So, let’s fix that.
Craft a simple morning routine that works
While there’s no one morning routine out there that is a perfect fit for everyone, there are a few keys to include. Use these simple ideas as inspiration:
Map out your day
Before you leave your office at the end of the day, make it a habit to create a list of the most important things to accomplish the following morning. This way, you can use those most (early) productive hours knocking things off the list, rather than brainstorming what needs to get done. This one tip can save you hours each week.
As soon as you wake up each morning, drink water. Your body has gone without water for hours, and so you’re beginning your day dehydrated. This isn’t good for your brain! Most sources recommend drinking 16 oz. to fuel your brain and kick start your day. Get yourself a big to-go cup and keep it filled with H2O.
Eat a good breakfast
You’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and with good reason. What you eat first thing will provide you with the energy and nutrients you need to power through your morning. Eating a healthy breakfast will also enhance memory, attention and mental processing speed. Set the clock a few minutes early and take time to eat a good breakfast before you fly out the door.
Be consistent & patient
The reason morning routines boost productivity is because they are just that—routines. To be successful in establishing a routine, we must stay dedicated and consistent. A study by Phillippa Lally found that it took 95% of participants 18 to 254 days to stick with a new routine. In other words, everybody is different, but simply sticking to your routines greatly increases your chances of success. Coach.me is an awesome, free app that helps you track your personal improvements toward goals.
Make this your year to live with intention—starting with the moment you wake up each morning.