How to optimize your mornings

Taking advantage of the morning is the secret to increasing your daily productivity. This is the period in the day when you have the most creative and physical energy but most people underutilize it, choosing instead to sleep in and wake up just in time for work. 

I am usually exhausted after work. The first thing I do when I get home is lay on the floor and enjoy the silence for ten to fifteen minutes. It’s hard to get motivated after work; you are tired and would much prefer to relax. The way to bypass this fatigue is to take advantage of your morning energy before you go to work and leave the relaxation for the evening. 

Robert Kyosaki said in his book Rich Dad Poor Dad that you should “pay yourself first. He meant this in financial terms where you should invest in yourself before you pay your bills. When you pay yourself first, you will find a way to cover the bills but if you pay yourself last, you will never have money to invest. 

This concept also applies to your energy. You will always find the energy to accomplish what needs to be done but by prioritizing your morning energy for self-development you will also be accomplishing what you want to do. 

A productive morning starts in the evening

A productive morning requires a full night’s sleep. Therefore, before you start working on your morning routine, make sure that you have a nighttime routine that will get you those eight hours of sleep before your alarm clock rings. 

This nighttime routine can be activated at any time which makes it far easier for you to roll back your wakeup time when you have decided to take advantage of the morning and wake up an hour earlier. 

The best time to decide what you will accomplish in the morning is well in advance. Planning will give you the conviction to get out of bed and start the day because you will know what is awaiting you and be excited about it – or at least mentally prepared for it, it’s hard to get excited about a workout and a cold shower.

As a rule, anything that can be done the night before should be done the night before. This will decrease your stress in the morning and give you more time to do other activities such as: meditating, showering or taking the dog for a walk.

Plan how long each activity will take so that you never stress about time. The best way to do this is to leave a long activity with a variable time for last. No matter how hard you stare at the toaster it will not toast any faster, but you can take a shorter walk or shorten your meditation time if you need to so keep these activities for last.

Get up with a purpose

I used to be a snoozer. I would snooze five times until I barely had enough time to get out the door and then likely be late to wherever I was going. I eventually got out of the snoozing habit but still wasted my mornings.

Your morning should be filled with constructive leisure time. It will not benefit you to wake up an hour early to scroll facebook – trust me, that’s how I wasted my mornings. Instead, when your alarm goes off, turn on the lights and start making your bed.

The simple habit of making your bed can have many benefits. Making your bed gives you the feeling of accomplishing your first task within minutes of waking up. You can then use the momentum from this win to propel you through the day. 

Charles Duhigg elaborated upon the benefit of making your bed in his book The Power of Habits going as far as saying that by making your bed you will have “a greater sense of well-being and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.” 

Transform making your bed into the start of your morning routine and you will find yourself having a far more productive morning. In the early hours of the morning, there is no one and nothing to distract you from what you want to work on. Therefore, you can focus on the task at hand and get it done before your day normally begins.

My morning routine

I wake up, make my bed which then activates my morning routine. My morning priorities are spiritual development, mental exercise, physical exercise and having a nutritional meal. 

So, once my bed is made the first step of my routine is to have a large breakfast. My main meal of the day is my hearty breakfast so I make sure that it is as nutritious as possible by loading it with vegetables, fruits and nuts – usually prepared in advance to save time.  

Then comes my spiritual development by way of a 30-minutes meditation. Finally, I listen to an audiobook while biking to work which gives me a combo mental and physical workout. This morning routine takes care of my daily priorities before I start my workday so I can arrive at work ready for it.

It has taken me time to craft my morning routine. Figuring out what your priorities are and how much time to allocate to each of them is hard and will require some trial and error. I now have a morning routine that I am happy but it took time to get there.

Planning your morning

This morning routine works for me because it fulfills my priorities so the first thing you need to ask yourself is: what are your priorities? Odds are, your priorities are different than mine, and that’s okay,

We can divide morning activities into three categories: Need, Want, Fun. 

Needs are the things that cannot be changed – such as your daily commute and how long it takes to toast bread. No matter the day, these things will always need to get done and will likely take a set amount of time – unless you don’t have time for the bread to toast and decide to have cereal.

Then there are the wants, these are the things that you would like to accomplish daily such as the activities that make up your constructive leisure time. These things can include: meditating, showering, exercising, reading. These activities are your reason for getting up earlier and tend to be activities that are of variable duration. 

The final category “Fun” is what you do if there is time left over. These activities might include watching youtube videos, scrolling Facebook, or just about anything else that you do in your normal downtime.

Finishing with fun activities is a great way to motivate yourself to keep waking up early. Your brain does this thing where it focuses on the beginning and the end of the story. So, if you are groggy when you wake up [start] and you have fun before work [end] your brain will remember the overall morning as a positive experience, even if you were quite miserable during your workout. 

That being said, fun things should be kept for last. Organize your morning so that all your “Need” tasks will always be accomplished. Plan for some constructive leisure time to complete your “Want” activities and try to leave some time for “Fun” ones. 

This way, you don’t stress while you are doing your fun activities and get to feel accomplished having already done everything else. If you find yourself spending too much time doing “Fun”, it might be time to consider adding more items to the “Want” category.

Things that you need to accomplish are not going to change, you will always have to brush your teeth, get dressed and commute to work. What you can change are the things you want to do. Those are the things that will improve your life in some way. I have already spoken about the benefits that come from making your bed, right?

Waking up without caffeine  

Finally, try to hold off on the coffee, at least until your natural energy wears off. If you have a hard time waking up in the morning, consider adding a workout or a cold shower to your morning routine. These healthy habits will definitely wake you up. Plus, if you get it done first thing in the morning, you can go on for the rest of the day without worrying about it. 

Completing a workout in the morning doesn’t permit you to have three slices of cake throughout the day, but it can help decrease your dependence on coffee and optimize your natural energy. 

Waking up an hour earlier is a challenge, but with the right reasons and a good night’s sleep you can do it.

Go on, you’re almost there.

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2 thoughts on “How to optimize your mornings

  1. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

    Liked by 1 person

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