Everybody has their dog days where you don’t feel like getting out of bed or end up not making the most out of your day. Regardless of whether you’re a morning person or not, anyone can benefit from effective morning routines that help you start your day bright and early.
1. Make Goals and Plan Ahead
Before you plan your days, you should primarily figure out what exactly you want out of your days. Do you want more productivity? Or perhaps you want healthier habits or happiness?
Not everyone has the same goals in mind, which is why it’s essential to establish morning routines that revolve around your personal motivations. Once you do, it’ll be a lot easier to move forward and practice these routines.
Steve Jobs, the genius behind the two most successful companies in the world, Apple Inc. and Pixar Animation Studios, started his days by reflecting on what his life’s true purpose was.
Another easy way to plan out your days is to write things down simply! Benjamin Franklin was known to write down his tasks for certain hours of the day and even has a famous to-do list that includes a 3-hour long morning routine.
Writing down what you plan to do is a somewhat cathartic experience and gives you more control of your day overall. Sometimes things get in the way, and you won’t be able to finish all that you have on your list, but it’s still a good practice so that you’re better equipped to prioritize your time and make sure that you’re working towards hitting your goals.
Try eliminating any decision-making tasks in the morning. If your morning is filled with deciding what to wear, packing up items to put in your bag, making your lunch, etc. then you’ll only be wasting precious time.
Planning your next day the evening before is effective since we have a limited amount of willpower and discipline every day. Thinking about what small and often menial tasks need to get done in the mornings can slow you down and drain your energy.
Like American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault, you should practice ending your evenings by writing down at least three things you want to accomplish the next day. Pick out your outfit beforehand, so you don’t have to waste time in the morning figuring it out. Make your lunch and pack your things into your bag the day before, so both are ready to go when you wake up.
2. Wake Up at YOUR Best Time
Many morning people boast about being more productive since they tend to wake up early around 5 or 6 AM, hence the infamous saying “The early bird catches the worm.” While it’s a fact that people who wake up earlier tend to be more productive, it doesn’t necessarily mean that night owls can’t be just as productive.
It’s not about what time you wake up, it’s more about getting in tune with your body’s internal clock. Not everyone is physically able to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning, and not everyone is on the same schedule. Your body is an expert at knowing when to sleep, so you shouldn’t force yourself to be part of the early bird club if you can’t sleep before midnight.
Rather than pushing your body out of its sleeping hours before your brain is ready, getting enough sleep and waking up when it is ready leads to a more productive day. If you’re not sure about when the right time is to wake up or want to know your optimal time of day in your life, you can refer to this guide that helps you to harness your productivity hours.
3. Distance Yourself Digitally
A lot of us tend to wake up, immediately turn on our phone and spend almost half an hour checking our social media, reading emails, or getting lost in news articles. According to Elite Daily, Dr Nikole Benders-Hadi, a psychiatrist at Doctor on Demand, stated that immediately turning on your phone after you wake up can more likely increase stress and leave you with an overwhelming feeling.
She also adds that “The information overload that hits you before you’re fully awake also interferes with your ability to prioritize tasks.” In short, you could be sabotaging your day before it even truly starts.
Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh states that when we’re feeling anxious or stressed, we’re either thinking deeply about the past or worrying about the future. This can be true when you look at the many emails, texts, and other notifications waiting for you on your phone. It forces you to think about the tasks you need to finish throughout the day instead of peacefully taking in and enjoying your morning.
An excellent way to practice not touching your phone first thing in the morning is to charge it on the opposite side of your room, so it takes effort to reach it. The trick to this is since you’re already up on your feet, you might as well get started with your day by doing some stretches, grabbing a cup of coffee or tea, taking a quick morning shower, or anything else other than checking your phone.
If you use your phone as your alarm, this can be an even more tempting trap to check your phone after you turn your alarm off. Try buying a separate alarm clock that’s battery powered, so you don’t have to touch your phone.
4. Make Your Bed
Growing up, I was always encouraged to make my bed the minute I get out of it, and for the longest time, I’ve wondered why it was so important since I would just mess it up again anyway. It may just a be a simple task to most, but this one step into your morning routine can make all the difference.
Making your bed every day requires foresight, discipline and commitment, and by the time you’ve done it, you feel a small sense of pride and accomplishment. This feeling will motivate you to get even bigger things done throughout your day.
Naval Admiral William McRaven, the commander of U.S Special Operations, shared some wisdom about this virtue. “By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”
Another benefit to making your bed is it’ll lower your stress levels and improve your mood. We all spend roughly about a third of our lives in our bedrooms, and believe or not, the appearance of our room can have an effect on our mood. If your room is messy and disorganized, it’s difficult to feel calm, relaxed, and clear-headed.
If you simply make your bed, it can change the entire feeling of the room and create a subtle vibe of competence and can also lift your mood.
5. Get Your Body Moving
Exercise is a popular way to get some blood flowing and to have a more positive outlook towards the rest of your day. It’s also a typical routine amongst many successful entrepreneurs like Kim Kardashian, who starts her day with a cardio routine.
Your willpower peaks in the morning and our discipline and self-control can diminish throughout the day, which is why the morning is an ideal time to exercise.
A group of Japanese researchers from the University of Tsukuba have found that fat oxidation is more likely to happen in the morning, especially if you exercise before breakfast. Doing so mimics the fasting state that prompts your body to burn fat.
Many who work out in the morning tend to be generally happier and less stressed since endorphins are released by the brain from the physical activity.
If you don’t know where to start when trying to exercise in the morning, you can start with some stretches. The Cat Camel stretch is good as a warm-up and can give you more spinal flexibility that can lessen fatigue throughout your day.
All you do is kneel down on all fours, round your back like a camel, so you head tries to meet your pelvis, then lower and lift your head, so your lower back is arched. Repeat these movements slowly about 5 times.
Another yoga pose is the balancing table pose, also known as the table top position, that can benefit the spine, your balance, memory, and concentration. Start on your hands and knees, breathing in before each movement. While you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise your right arm, also parallel to the floor. Lower your arm and leg as you breathe in, then repeat the same steps for the other side and alternate about 10 times.
If you tend to move around a lot during the day, squats can help with knee stability and strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. First, stand with your feet shoulder width apart and put your arms out in front of you. Next, lower yourself until you reach a 90-degree angle (or lower if you want to). Then return to the first position and repeat around 15 times for two sets.
Lunges are another way to strengthen your leg muscles. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, place your hands on your hips and take a giant step forward with your right leg. Try not to touch your knee to the ground or go too far forward to prevent injury.
Alternate the legs as you go for a set of 10 reps for each leg. Make sure you put it in a day of rest between these exercises, so you don’t harm yourself.
If you want some cardio in your day, you can try going out for a brisk walk or a run. You can either go outside for fresh air or run inside on a treadmill. Either way, walking or running can help you build stronger bones and maintain your weight. You can also keep your blood pressure low, so you don’t start your day with overwhelming stress.
Jumping Jacks are another great way to get the blood pumping. First standing with your feet together, jump while you spread your arms and legs, then return to the first position and repeat for about a full minute.
For arms, pushups and bicep curls are highly effective. For pushups, you start lying face down but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should line up with your shoulders and make sure you breathe in as you lower your body. While you push up to the starting position, exhale. You can also do pushups as you bend your legs at the knees for less strain on the elbows.
Bicep curls are useful for toning the arm muscles and can strengthen the brachioradialis muscle in the forearm, the muscle we use to pick things up. Choose some dumbbells that aren’t too heavy for you and either sit or stand with the dumbbell in hand. Bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then bring it back down again.
Make sure to exhale as you lift up the weight and inhale when you lower it. One or two sets of 10 repetitions should be ideal, and on the rest days, try stretching your muscles or do some light walking and running.
To get a lot more out of your day, it’s up to you to take the initiative. You can still have a fulfilling and productive day no matter if you’re an early bird or a night owl! Take baby steps to practice the mentioned morning routines so you can get more consistency and happiness.
Wake up at an optimal time, make your bed, exercise, lift your mood with a cup of coffee and give yourself some space from your phone first thing in the morning. With these easy to follow and effective routines, you’ll find yourself a lot less overwhelmed and stressed, so you go through your day with a positive outlook and fuel motivation.