A morning routine can be summed up in one word — necessary. Keep in mind that I’m using the term, “morning” very loosely. Depending on your lifestyle, I’ve heard really good arguments for alternative sleep schedules like segmented and triphasic sleep.
When I refer to a morning routine, I’m talking about what you do in the first 1.5 hours after you wake. After all, studies have indicated for some time that you are most productive the moment you wake up.
Better mornings, better life.
Wait…Can someone put that on a coffee mug?
These are some tips I use and they’re so simple, you’ll be tempted to overlook them. But, they work!
1. Create a playlist that motivates you
Create a separate morning playlist with upbeat tempos, inspiring, introspective lyrics, and full of energy. Not because you’ll be dancing all morning, but because you are teaching yourself the habit of getting right to work. Your mind will be trained to associate this succession of songs with your cultivated morning routine. I have a playlist that is exactly two hours long to play in the mornings. By doing the same task every morning, the playlist acts as a trigger for me to get into a productive space of mind.
If I want to be productive, but I’m over my “morning routine,” I just play the list of songs on shuffle. It serves as a pleasant surprise and gives an entirely new dose of energy to the same old tasks.
2. Have an early day
You will not believe how much more productive you feel if you simply set your alarm back 30 minutes. Notice, I said have an early “day” — not to wake up early every day.
Here’s how it works: at the top of the week, choose one day to wake up earlier.
You can change the day from week to week to keep a semblance of spontaneity in your schedule. I usually do this on Sunday, because it forces me to get a good look at my week; see what’s planned, and which day needs the most adjustment. By choosing a day ahead of time, you also subconsciously plan and expect to do more on that crucial early day.
3. Keep a morning journal
I’ve heard some really great things about journaling. The response from the Kickstarter project, The Mastery Journal, was phenomenal. I also have The Mastery Journal and it looks like a collector’s item. Unfortunately, I treat it like that too, so it sits in a case on the top of my bookcase until I feel mentally ready to commit to it. It requires your full utilization for 100 days and promises to help you master discipline and productivity once you’re done.
Fizzle even makes the bold claim that journaling for 10 minutes can make you more productive forever. If any of you would like to share how you journal, I’m all ears.
Here’s a list of journaling topics I’ve done in the past:
- Document what’s on your mind
- Describe yourself in three words
- Make a list of things you’re grateful for
- Goals for the day
- Goals for the year
- Some of Regina’s writing prompts for entrepreneurs
The Ivy League method is also intriguing. First of all, it’s a great read about how Charles Schwab became one of the richest men in the world and the journaling technique is really stupid-simple.
4.Do something a simple physical activity
When we talk productivity, I wish we’d call more attention to waking up your body as much as we talk about waking up the brain. I don’t drink a single cup of coffee until I’ve stretched my limbs.
Stretching your full body warms your muscles up for the day. Increased flexibility and reduced laziness are a good recipe for a more productive day. If you’re more ambitious than I am, you could even sneak in a light morning workout or a bit of yoga.
5. Have your clothes already laid out
Ever since I read that Mark Zuckerberg has the same outfits in his closet to reduce useless brain power trying to find something to wear, I’ve been far more intentional in picking my outfit the night before. It does feel like it takes forever to choose what you’re going to wear in the morning. Imagine all the decisions we make in a single day and how well we could use that mental energy on something else.
How awesome is Mark Zuckerberg’s closet?
What to wear shouldn’t be the biggest issue of the morning. Not to mention, whether you work primarily from home as I do, or whether you spend the day in the city, you should still avoid dressing down. The better you look, then the better you feel.
Do not cheat yourself out of a feel-good day because you didn’t have the energy to decide what to wear. When you feel like you’re more put together, you are more confident, speak with more authority, and tend to complete tasks more efficiently.
6. Open your blinds and make your bed
I’ve read a lot of morning articles that say to make your bed —for good reason, too. When you make your bed in the morning, it’s a clear visual cue that the day has officially started and the fact that going back into bed is not an option. It is also a task that promotes structure, cleanliness, and focus.
Less often is the suggestion presented that you also open your blinds.
Artificial light is horrible for you —it strains you eyes, makes you drowsy, and can even give you headaches. Natural light has amazing benefits like enhancing your mood, making you more alert and reducing stress. Natural light wins over artificial light any day. So, after making your bed, be sure to open your blinds too.
7. Keep your phone far away from your bed
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Check your phone. We all do, and it’s killing our productivity. For one; when you check your phone first thing in the morning, of course, you want to stay in bed longer. There’s always one more email to read, one more post, and one more text. By the time we’re ready to roll out of bed, we’re reluctant to do so and we’re also probably late.
The remedy is to keep your phone as far away from your bed as possible. I keep my phone in this dock on my desk:
— It’s charging through the night
— It has a dedicated place for it
— I can even check it quickly without removing it from the dock
Plus, it’s gold and it’s classy! Here is the best dock for iPhone users (for both your iPhone and your apple watch).
Without your phone, how do you wake up your brain? Take care of yourself first. My suggestion is that you meditate — meditate on your day, meditate on where you are in life right now, meditate on things you’d like to change about yourself today. You can meditate about anything or you can get straight to some of the tips I’ve listed above.
Your morning routine does matter if you want to have a better, more productive day. You can’t roll out of bed and wing it. Instead, you should decide to be more intentional about how you choose to start your day.
If you’d like to keep receiving strategies to help you improve your entrepreneurial mentality, you can get my free book The Entrepreneur’s Manifesto™ here.