Benoit Lacroix, founder of Portmoni, an online platform that helps entrepreneurs grow sustainable businesses and change the world, says that morning routines should be sacred for maximum productivity.
But unlike what many movers and shakers will tell you, Lacroix says that a morning routine to set you up for success doesn’t have to be set in stone.
“It helps to have a set of activities that you consider a part of your morning routine and decide which ones you feel like doing when you wake up,” he says.
Lacroix finds that a rigid morning routine might add unnecessary pressure and actually be counterproductive.
“On some days, you can meditate or do yoga, on others you can sip a cup of coffee and read a book. It all depends on how much time you have and what your body and mind need. The key is to set some time aside nevertheless and simply go with what you’re feeling.”
What morning routines can help us set up our day so that we can be more productive at work?
Here are ten morning “moods” that promise to kick your productivity game into high gear and set you up for a successful day.
1) Enroll in the “The 5:00 AM Club”
Any fans of Canadian writer Robin Sharma of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari fame, will know that the acclaimed self-help author and leadership expert is a big fan of waking up at 5:00 am to live the life of your dreams.
He’s even written a book about it: his 2018 The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning, Elevate Your Life is described as a playbook for genius-grade productivity.
Sharma’s message in the book is simple: Wake up at 5:00 AM and spend the first hour of your day focusing on yourself.
This could be meditating and sitting in quiet contemplation. It could be doing something that promotes your self-care such as yoga or another mindful exercise such as writing in a journal.
Waking out at this hour allows you to enjoy the peace and quiet and truly think without distraction.
It can give you a profound sense of peace that would be very difficult to find at any other point in the day.
Besides, seeing the sunrise while sipping on tea or coffee has a magic to it and it has a way of connecting us to our spiritual selves.
It’s no wonder that religious and spiritual practices and prayers around the world begin at daybreak.
2) Refrain from reaching for your phone the moment you arise
We’re all guilty of going for our phone the minute we get out of bed—and even before our feet touch the ground, truth be told.
Checking email, scrolling through social media, and seeing what the latest news is can be so tempting, says Forbes Council Member Jay Rai.
“Granted, our phones can help us be more productive and improve the quality of our lives, but they are also a major source of distraction and stress, and especially checking them first thing,” he says.
The thing is that when you first wake up in the morning, your brain switches from delta waves, which occur in a deep sleep state, to theta waves, which occur during a sort of daydream state, Rai explains.
“The brain then moves to produce the alpha waves when you are awake but are relaxed and not processing much information.”
When we reach for our phone first thing, we actually force our body to skip the important theta and alpha stages from the delta stage to being wide awake and alert, he says. This state is also referred to as the beta state.
“In skipping these states and checking your phone right after waking up, you are priming your brain for distraction,” Rai says. “Seeing or reading something negative can trigger your stress response and put you on edge for the rest of the day.”
If you’re the type of person who thinks checking and answering work emails from bed gives you a jumpstart to your day in terms of productivity, think again, says Julie Morgenstern, who is the New York Times bestselling author of Never Check Email In The Morning.
“Those requests and those interruptions and those unexpected surprises and those reminders, and problems are endless,” she says. “There is very little that cannot wait a minimum of 59 minutes.”
3) Create a morning ritual that you conduct on the regular
I have to admit that I’m not a morning person. I have to ease into my day and my morning rituals help me do this.
My ritual starts with self-care which consists of a skincare routine. I also like to make myself a lemon water tonic followed by a nutrient-rich smoothie boost followed by mushroom coffee.
It’s only after this formula that I am able to function at an optimal level.
Now that my energy kicks into high gear, I tend to go after my dream projects in the morning. As a journalist, this means pitching stories or media outlets that excite me.
This morning adrenaline fuels my afternoons where I then tackle the projects that are on the agenda and have a deadline, including anchor clients.
A morning ritual is paramount to setting up your productivity factor so play around with what works for you.
4) We don’t mean to be patronizing but…make your bed (We mean it)
Speaking of morning rituals and routines, this navy seal says that if you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and will encourage you to do another task. And another. And another,” he says.
“By the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce that many of the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.”
He says that if you end up having a miserable day, you’ll come home to a bed that is made. “A made bed [that you made] will give you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
5) Take a cold shower if you can
Now I don’t pretend to do this consistently —especially during the frigid Canadian weather in the winter months—but I do know that taking a cold shower can work wonders on waking you up and getting that energy and adrenaline pumping.
“Cold showers can help wake you up and increase mental alertness, making you feel more energized throughout the day,” confirms health and well-being speaker Tyler Lowe.
“If you’re struggling with morning fatigue or need an energy boost to bring your day, a cold shower may be just what you need,” he says.
If, like me, you can’t fathom doing this or you tend to take your showers at night as a way to wind down and de-stress, then even splashing your face 20 times with cold water in the morning can also be pretty effective.
6) Make a healthy breakfast a habit
Getting your morning fuel from coffee alone is just going to make you jittery and overeat come lunchtime. It will also make you tune into your hunger pangs mid-morning instead of focusing on the work task at hand.
If you don’t think you can stomach food first thing in the morning, try making a healthy smoothie like I do. I might be biased but I think my recipe is as healthy as it is delicious.
I simply cut up a mid-ripe banana (I refrigerate my bananas so as to cut down the amount of sugar I’m consuming as ripe bananas have a lot of it); one cup of low-sugar Greek yogurt, one tablespoon of peanut butter, a handful of spinach, a handful of blueberries and a splash or two of unsweetened almond milk.
You can also add a teaspoon of chia seeds for added nutrients. The Greek yogurt makes the smoothie creamy, but combined with the peanut butter, the protein effect limits raising your blood sugar from the fruit.
If a smoothie isn’t your style, then the team at Flexispot suggest pairing a slice of whole grain toast with a hunger-satiating protein like egg, a slice of avocado, and some mineral-rich leafy greens like watercress for an all-round healthy breakfast.
Whole grains are great for energy management, while eggs are good for strong brain cognition and mental clarity.
7) Don’t forget to hydrate
Getting a jumpstart on your water intake first thing in the morning can prevent you from feeling sluggish and as such enhance productivity at work.
“Drinking water on an empty stomach helps balance your lymph system—an important part of your immune system,” says Jabeen Begum, MD.
“This makes it easier for your body to fight off infections. Water [also] dilutes the acid in your kidneys, so fewer kidney stones form.”
If you suffer from anxiety and it sometimes imposes on your focus at productivity levels, starting your day with water—and sipping consistently throughout the day—can have naturally calming properties, says the team at Solara Mental Health.
This is “likely as a result of addressing dehydration’s effects on the body and brain,” they add. “Drinking enough water is an important step in managing your anxiety, drinking sufficient water can create feelings of relaxation.”
8) Try to get at least somewhat physical
Getting your heart pumping is a great boost to your day, and it can make you feel like you can conquer the world.
Exercising in the morning—whether it’s going to the gym, doing yoga asanas, or going for a walk or jog in your neighborhood—will have you reaping the mental benefits all day long.
“There are many health mental benefits of exercise and working out first thing in the morning helps you experience those benefits right away,” says the team at healthcare organization Piedmont.
“That’s because exercise leads to the secretion of neurotransmitters that promote mental clarity and an improved attention span. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, as well as [feeling] rejuvenated and recharged.”
9) Be intentional about what you want to accomplish that day…and beyond
Make a morning practice of zeroing in on what you want to accomplish that day.
Doing this makes us more intentional about our day and the focus can attract other ideas throughout the day.
Many people start off each day writing a list of their goals—both personal and professional, both short and long-term.
Instead of spending your morning watching the news, limit this if you can (I do believe in and understand the importance of staying informed). But still carve out time for a purposeful activity that allows you to reflect and set intentions for the day.
Some people do this in a journal, while others do it in the Notes app on the phone.
Focusing on your goals is what will steer you in the direction of how to make them happen.
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