How to Start Your Morning and Set up the Day for Success

Beautiful-Day-1024x640Some days are just golden right from the start. You get up bright and early, you have a good breakfast, your coffee is perfect, and you get through your most important work first. By lunchtime, you’re feeling great: you’ve covered significant ground and you want to push yourself to get even more done during the afternoon.

Other days don’t go quite like that.

In fact, for many people, these days are the more typical ones: You hit snooze repeatedly and get up late. You rush breakfast (or worse, skip it altogether), and you spend the first hour of your workday trying to find that really important file, or answering emails. By lunchtime, you feel as though you’ve not accomplished anything – and you can’t see the afternoon getting any better.

If your morning goes well, the rest of the day is probably going to be a success too: once you begin to build momentum, it’s easy to keep going. So here’s how to start your morning as you mean to go on:

  1. Get Up On Time
    I won’t say “get up early” – because we’re not all morning people. Getting up on time means setting your alarm early enough that you don’t feel rushed right at the start of your day. Often, just getting out of bed ten or fifteen minutes earlier transforms a stressed, harried morning into a much more relaxed one.

The best way I’ve found to get up on time is to go to bed on time. Yes, it’s obvious – but it’s surprising how often we seem to forget it! Many people need more sleep: are you one of them?

  • Eat a Healthy Breakfast
    We all know that it’s important to eat breakfast, though many of us don’t – or if we do, we eat all the wrong things. If you’re trying to lose weight (and a staggering two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese), then eating breakfast will help you do so.

Even if your weight isn’t a concern, you still need to give your brain some fuel first thing in the morning … so eat a healthy breakfast that’ll give you the energy you need for your work. Good options are wholegrain cereals with skim milk, wholewheat toast with eggs, or oatmeal.

  • Plan Your Day
    When you arrive in the office (or, if you work from home, when you sit down at your desk) – resist the temptation to check your emails. Unless you work in tech support, it’s very unlikely that anyone needs a reply at 8.30am. 

Instead, spend just five minutes planning out your day. What major projects do you want to make progress on? This is what you should work on for at least the first hour of the day. What small but urgent tasks need to be done today? Batch these together and knock them out in a bunch – or get them done during those “gaps” in the day, like when you’re waiting for someone to phone you back.

  • Minimize Interruptions
    When you’re working on something that’s mission-critical – like that mail-out to new customers – do you really want to keep stopping to deal with trivia? Let your calls go to voice-mail, leave your email program closed, and shut your office door.

It takes several minutes to refocus on what you’re doing after an interruption, so you’re wasting a lot of time if you’re constantly stopping to deal with people’s queries.

  • Stay On Track
    Productivity can become a positive spiral if you stay focused: the more work you get through, the more energized you’ll feel. You’ll be encouraged to keep achieving and to keep doing meaningful work (rather than busy work or low-value tasks). 

To stay on track, learn to recognize and control your impulses. Don’t give in to distractions like Twitter, Facebook and other socializing websites – save these for your lunch break or for after work. If you find yourself losing focus on a task, take a five minute break from your computer – then get straight back to it. In many cases, mono-tasking is more effective than multi-tasking.

Do you find that your day goes better if your morning starts well? How do you make sure you get your day off to a great start?

Written on 1/23/2011 by Ali Luke. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing. Photo Credit: Perfecto Insecto
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