Are you interested in hacking your way to a more productive day? Highly successful people have a structured morning routine that starts their day in a productive manner and helps them achieve remarkable results.
If you feel like you have a never-ending to-do list, struggle with your stress-load, and think it’s time to take more control of your life, a structured morning routine will benefit you.
While there are many suggestions on the internet about how to establish a morning routine, some of these websites offer rigid ideas such as, “Drink lemon water every morning!”, “Work-out first thing every morning!”
Our 9 Best Morning Routine Tips
Morning routines are not one-size-fits-all. This article will give you 9 tips for productivity hacking your day and create a morning routine that works for you.
Set The Tone for the Day
Develop a healthy morning routine is the advice of many famous entrepreneurs and celebrities:
- President Obama’s morning routine starts with a cardio and weights routine, followed by breakfast with his daughters.
- Oprah Winfrey’s morning routine always includes meditation. Even when short on time, 10 minutes twice a day sets the tone for the day.
- Mark Zuckerberg focuses on important matters by avoiding the laptop first thing in the morning.
- Arianna Huffington’s morning routine begins every morning with 30 minutes of meditation and a session on a stationary bike or some yoga stretches.
However you choose to begin your day, first understand what the intention is for today. To be more productive? To spend time with my family? To spend time on me? What do I want more of in my day? Figure out your goals first, then follow some of our tips below to establish a less-stressed, more productive day.
Choose a time to wake up every day. This helps your body develop a rhythm, a daily routine. Chose to wake up earlier. While not all successful people wake up early, there is a definite correlation that most do.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, wakes up at four a.m. and exercises. Jack Dorsey, CEO, and founder of both Twitter and Square wakes up at five a.m. to meditate. Richard Branson, the Virgin Group founder, wakes at 5:00 a.m. wherever he is in the world.
Jennifer Aniston gets up at 4:30 a.m. and immediately starts doing her morning rituals. As a part of her morning routine, Jen washes her face with soap, drinks hot water with lemon, then meditates for 20 minutes. Getting up early allows her to get a head start on the day and have some quality time for herself before going to work.
The goal of an early start is to prepare the correct frame of mind to begin your day. Waking up early is a stellar life hack, tricking your body into believing there are more hours in the day. It’s long been known that successful people wake well before their workday begins.
By following this one easy tip, you can literally “create” time for things like Yoga, meditation, starting a load of laundry, walking the dog, and much more. The benefits of waking earlier (and not hitting the snooze button numerous times) are extensive.
Create Your To-do List the Night Before
Almost certainly, things will pop-up requiring your immediate attention but determining tomorrow’s tasks the day before helps increase productivity. Don’t make that list too long. A list of too many items lacks focus and drains productive time.
Instead, focus on three tasks for the following day; write them down for a stronger chance they’ll get done. It does not matter if the tasks are small, simple, like putting away the laundry, taking out the trash. Getting three things done is pivotal to continuing your productive day.
- Benjamin Franklin, a founding father of the United States, had a very structured morning routine which started with two hours of stretches from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. followed by setting his plan for the rest of the day. Every morning Franklin asked himself, “What good shall I do today.”
As essential as a To-do list is, a NOT-to-do list is equally important. While this may seem counter-intuitive, your next step is to create a NOT To-Do List. We all have our normal to-do lists for the day, but it’s important to check off what you should not be doing as well.
Kenneth Chenault, American Express CEO “After all, it’s easier to stop doing things, than to start doing new ones. Whether you want to stop checking email first thing, not eat right away, keep off social media, stay away from mindless busywork, make sure this NOT list aligns with your intentions from the beginning of your day.” Then the last thing he does before leaving the office each day is to write down the top three things he wants to accomplish tomorrow. That is the beginning of his to-do list for the following day.
Now that you have your to-do list and your not-to-do list, how do you decide what to do first?
Tackle Your Most Challenging Task First
Author Mark Twain suggests Eating the frog first because nothing worse can happen for the rest of the day! His idea is to complete the most challenging task first thing in the morning when you are free of persistent requests, notifications, distractions, demands.
Provide yourself a minute to prioritize what the frog is and put all your focus on accomplishing this one task. By completing the “frog” first, you will have more mental energy for smaller tasks throughout your day.
As soon as you awaken, drink water and start hydrating. Regardless of how much or how little you slept, that time was spent dehydrating. Whether you feel like you need water or not, you do.
Water fires up your energy. Perks you up, properly lubricates your muscles and organs to get them moving properly. Remember: your body is over 60% water and water is considered an essential nutrient. Your body does not produce enough water to meet the demands of your metabolism. You must drink water.
A simple idea to make it easy: Place a frozen 16-ounce water bottle at your bedside. Upon awakening, you will have ice cold water at your fingertips ready to flood your body with hydration and give you a nice ice cold jolt to start the day.
How Do I Awaken?
Many studies have proven the benefits of waking up to light versus sound. Our circadian rhythm is wired to awaken to the sunrise. Wake up light alarms are designed to simulate this effect. The alarms start with dim light, gradually increasing to full sunlight over a half an hour. These lights provide sunrise simulation as opposed to a jarring noise.
If you are experiencing problems with waking up, a light alarm may be a reliable alternative to radio noise. You can try smart light bulbs in tandem with an alarm set on a personal assistant for a return to a more natural way to awaken your body, setting the tone for a naturally productive day.
Get Some Oxygen
Most successful people agree getting your body moving early in the day must be your priority. Start by taking a really deep breath. Yes, this may sound crazy, but researchers have looked at breathing patterns and found that our bodies are running low on oxygen first thing in the morning.
Taking a few deep breaths can be like a ‘semi-coffee’ for your soul — getting you up, keeping you more awake, and oxygenating your blood. Move your body with subtle stretches, bends, yoga moves, or anything that gets the oxygen flowing to your muscles, heart, and your brain. Exercise in the morning provides a much-needed energy boost as well as motivation, mental clarity, and physical stamina.
- “I can achieve twice as much simply by keeping fit,” says Richard Branson, dedicated cyclist, and runner, “Exercise keeps the brain functioning properly.” Branson credits his morning fitness routine for his extremely productive lifestyle.
There’s evidence that suggests a correlation between mental acuity, memory, and morning exercise. Harvard Medical School states that exercise leads to the brain secreting neurotrophic factors. A chemical is proven to boost brain function.
- Anna Wintour, Vogue editor-in-chief Starts each day at 5:45 a.m. with an hour-long tennis match.
Eat? What, and When?
Eating a high-protein, healthy breakfast early in your day increases your productivity and focus throughout the day says Lifestyle experts Oprah and Tony Robbins. Biohacking pioneer Tim Ferriss advocates for at least 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking. This is also a significant facet of his wildly successful Slow-Carb Diet from his book The Four-Hour Body.
Scientific studies largely agree the first meal of the day should be a mixture of lean proteins and high-fiber carbohydrates. Good quality carbohydrates assist in regulating blood sugar and lean proteins help stave off hunger pangs throughout the day.
However, the popularity of intermittent fasting suggesting you skip breakfast altogether has extensive benefits for both mind and body. What works best for you? Listen to what your body tells you. Then make a decision and make it part of your morning routine.
The benefits of meditation are well-known to many — it helps reduce stress, improve productivity, boost creativity, and maintain general well-being. That’s why Oprah Winfrey usually includes meditation in her daily routine.
Oprah starts each morning with 20 minutes of sitting meditation, not skipping holidays or weekends. She says that sitting in stillness fills her with hope, a sense of contentment, and deep joy. However, if she’s in a rush she only meditates for 10-12 minutes, but twice a day as usual.
Julianne Hough prefers to start her day on a positive note by performing her own morning gratitude ritual. Right after waking up at 6:30 a.m. she sits up in her bed and thinks of 5 things she’s grateful for that either already happened to her or that she wants to do that day.
Julianne also sets some small spiritual goals for the following 24 hours. This can be something like making 10 people smile throughout the day, for example. Only after this does she get out of bed, brush her teeth, and proceed with her other morning routines.
If you are interested in meditation but aren’t sure where to start, download apps such as Calm or Headspace. Both offer 10-minute guided meditations. Both are an excellent way to dip your toe into the big pool called meditation.
- Tony Robbins starts his day with a 10-minute ‘priming’ exercise consisting of a breathing exercise, a gratitude diary, visualization, and then 15 minutes of intense exercise.
Start Each Day With Gratitude
Kevin Kruse, author of 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management, starts his morning routine with Yoga while:
- Mentally reciting his personal mission statement
- Listing three items of gratitude
- Reminding himself of the big picture, his three big goal areas: health, wealth, and love.
For each of the big three Kevin thinks of what tasks he can do that day to get closer to achieving them. “Just takes about 5 minutes,” he says.
It doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. Just use this time to focus on what really matters to you. Be thankful for all you have, all you have achieved, and set your heart and focus on the big goals in your life. This time sets your mind, heart and goals in alignment for the day.
Overhaul Your Morning Routine
Whether your morning routine needs a small tweek or a major overhaul, the benefits of a routine are too significant to overstate. A morning routine can greatly alleviate the stress of an overwhelming to-do list, and provide the structure necessary for a productive day.
One of the most robust ways to take your business and personal life to the next level is to have a well-structured, healthy morning routine. Use these 9 tips for productivity hacking your day and commit to a 30-day trial period. Stick with it and soon you will notice a difference in your productivity levels.
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