Your early morning routine sets the tone for the rest of the day. What does yours look like?
Do you drag yourself out of bed, stumble to the bathroom, get dressed in a fog then search for your phone and keys before leaving for work? Or are you up early, ensuring that you’re well prepared to kickstart your day? I’ve certainly done both over the years (and everything in between) & learned valuable lessons in the process.
Here’s what I found really works when you need to kickstart your day:
1. Remove/limit internet access (the night before)
This is one habit that I’ve found tough to establish and the one that determines success or failure for me regarding my morning routine.
As human beings, we thrive on news, gossip & are driven to stay connected.
Internet enabled devices are perfect for this. Having these devices nearby (or worse under our pillow!) when we wake up increases the temptation for distraction & the risk of a major shift of focus first thing in the morning. While checking the news, Facebook, Twitter or email from the comfort of bed seems like a low effort way to ease into the day, it can do major damage to our early morning plans.
Primarily, it moves us from a proactive (initiating & getting things done) mode to a reactive (responding to external events) mode & can end up derailing any plans we had to accomplish anything beyond the minimum required to show up at work (hopefully, on time).
Switch off your device(s) & leave it in another room before you settle down at night. You’ll do wonders for your productivity, your health, the quality of your sleep and I daresay your relationship with your partner.
Note: If it is essential to have your mobile/cell phone in your bedroom & switched on then I suggest that you unplug your router before your go to sleep & put your phone/device out of reach. Doing this will make it much easier to…
2. Get up 30 minutes (or more) earlier
It’s no secret that many of the most successful people get an early start to their day. They use that time to complete tasks which further their personal or professional goals whether that’s writing, working out or having a quiet moment with a family member. It is an ideal time to get some of your best work done with limited fear of interruption & it also allows you to take care of your early morning tasks with time to spare. With extra time in the morning you’ll get more accomplished, interactions with loved ones will be more thoughtful and of a higher quality & chances are you’ll arrive to work feeling more energized & focused. Starting your day on the front foot will set you up nicely for a much more productive day.
Tip: to increase your chances for success, begin by getting up just 5 minutes earlier each day for the first week.
Take some time to reflect & consider your goals for the day. Ask yourself some powerful questions -
- What is the most important thing that I want to accomplish today?
- Who do I want to be today?
- What are my top priorities?
- What standard(s) do I commit to living by today?
- What am I most grateful for?
- How can I brighten someone else’s day or show appreciation to them in some way?
Many people take time to meditate or write in a journal first thing in the morning. These are great ways to stay connected to ourselves, to give thanks, to reflect on our priorities & to retain and develop our ability to focus & single-task.
Spending even a few minutes in this way can make a significant difference to the quality of your day.
4. Tackle your most important task(s) first thing
Take a look at your to-do list. What are the most important tasks on there? Which tasks, once completed will add the most value to your life or your business? Often these will be the ones that we’re most avoiding. These tasks left undone become huge energy drainers. Where possible, these are the tasks to tackle first thing every morning. Completing or taking even small actions on these tasks can leave us feeling more energized & able to more easily get down to business.
Develop the habit of focusing on your agenda first thing every day because as the day goes on, chances are your goals will take a backseat to the goals of others. And very importantly, we now know that what we call willpower is limited & diminishes throughout the day as we use up our daily store. So, if you have something important to get done, your greatest chance of success is likely earlier in the day when willpower is at its highest.
For bonus points: identify this task the day before & gather the necessary materials. Get the thinking done in advance so you can tackle the doing immediately. In my experience, if I have to do the thinking as well when I sit down to do the task, then my brain will search for something easier to do & the likelihood for distraction increases.
5. Move more
Many of us spend our day sitting whether at a desk working, meeting with clients or zoned out in front of the TV. (A recent survey estimated that many people spend a total of 19 hours a day between sitting & lying down!) In the short term this leads to lethargy & low-energy and in the long-term can lead to major health problems.
Look for opportunities to move throughout the day. Many people take the early morning to exercise. However, if that’s not your preferred time (or if you don’t exercise regularly), then there are lots of opportunities to move just going through your morning routine. Put on some music (& wear headphones if necessary). I often challenge myself to see how many routine tasks (i.e. brew coffee, unload dishwasher, throw some laundry in) I can get done before 1 song has finished (5 minutes or so). Yes, silly & artificial I know, but when I need to, it can be a great way to accomplish a lot in a little time. And, I never cease to be amazed at how many small, routine but essential tasks can be accomplished during those periods.
Tip: listening to music that you know also helps since you’ll know how long is left in each song which can help you move a little faster 🙂
We’re now learning that even going to the gym 3–4 times per week does not compensate for our sedentary lifestyles. Our bodies were designed to move. Don’t make it so complicated. For most of us, there are plenty of opportunities to add in more movement naturally into our daily routine. We’ve all heard or read the advice a thousand times — get off the bus a stop or two earlier, walk up the escalator, use the stairs instead of the lift etc. For those that work from home (and even those who don’t), just picking up the pace while you complete life’s daily tasks can have a significant positive impact.
Buy an inexpensive pedometer to track your steps daily. It is a great way to both gauge how much you’re walking and to motivate you to squeeze out a few more steps.
OK, there you have it. 5 simple but powerful ways to getting your day started. Consistently including some or all of the above items in your morning routine will have a significant impact on the quality of your morning as well as providing a boost to your personal productivity.
I’d love to hear what strategies you use to kickstart your day.