It’s ok to be a night owl. There’s nothing wrong with that. But at some point in your life, you might want to change your habits.
It might be that you’re starting a new job where you have to wake up earlier than you’re used to. Or maybe you’re starting your own business. To see if your idea can take off, you want to get a couple of hours of work done early in the morning before you go to your day job.
Many successful people attribute their success to some extent to having productive mornings. And even if it doesn’t seem like it now, you can maximize your output during the first two or three hours of your day with just a few tweaks.
Before you try to boost your morning productivity though, make sure you understand why you’re trying to do this. If you lack intrinsic motivation, your morning will be that much harder – and you’ll be a lot more likely to fall off the wagon.
1. Prepare some things the night before
If you can take some time the night before to prepare things you need in the morning, it will only make your morning easier. For example, you can prepare the clothes you’re going to wear, or even part of your breakfast.
The more you limit the amount of choices that you have to make in the morning, the more cognitive power you’re saving for tasks that really matter throughout the day.
2. Wake up at the right time
Do you know that feeling when the alarm clock jolts you out of the sweetest sleep of your life? We all do, and that’s probably why many of us hate mornings to begin with. The reason why it feels so bad is that the alarm clock is waking you up at a deep point of your sleep.
Use an app like Sleep Cycle that uses your phone’s motion sensor to wake you up when your sleep is at its lightest. This way you avoid the sleep drunkedness that you feel when you’re jerked out of your sleep.
3. Have a good breakfast
Don’t start your day on empty! Not only is breakfast the most delicious meal of the day (can anybody really argue with that?), but it also has real positive effects on your productivity, not to mention your overall health.
Even if you feel you’re short on time, having breakfast might save you time in the long term, since it will nurture your brain and body so that you’ll be more efficient in everything you do. And take this in: studies show that children who skip breakfast are absent and late from school more often than children who do eat breakfast regularly. Might this also be true for the workplace?
4. Take a cold shower
Did you know that samurai warriors used to pour buckets of cold water on their heads every morning in a ritual called Misogi? Taking cold showers is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but if you really want to have a more productive morning, you should seriously consider doing this.
Morning cold showers have numerous benefits, including increased energy, improved gland activity and blood circulation, and strengthened immunity. If you can’t just jump into a cold shower, try standing under a warm stream of water for a couple of minutes and then gradually making the water colder. You’ll see that it’s not so bad!
5. Take advantage of quiet time
Mornings are a great time to do some strategic planning and other work that requires deep thinking and focus such as writing. There’s nobody to bother you and little to no interruptions to divert your attention from your work. It can be liberating to have all this quiet time to yourself and to devote it to the tasks that really matter to you.
6. Outline your morning
Every evening, make a game plan for the following morning. What are the two-three things that you want to get done, that will make your morning successful? Write them down and follow that outline in the morning. This will help you stay on track and make the most out of your mornings – at least until morning productivity becomes a routine for you.
7. Set an end to your work day
Make sure you know when to interrupt your work and make some time for recreation too. You need to be able to go to sleep at a reasonable time, and that can’t happen if you keep up work until late in your evening.
Setting an end to your work day will help you get a good night’s sleep and start your next day with fresh energy.
A good morning routine can be a powerful productivity booster. For example, Anthony Trollope used to get up at 5:30 am every day and write 3000 words every morning before going to his day job. Haruki Murakami wakes up at 4 am every morning when he’s working on a novel. Sylvia Plath, Benjamin Franklin, Ernest Hemingway and Immanuel Kant were also all early risers. So are Richard Branson, Tim Cook, Indira Nooyi and Anna Wintour. And who knows, maybe trying out a productive morning routine will also help you be as prolific and successful as them.
Photo credit: murdelta https://www.flickr.com/photos/murdelta/4398351563