The smartest people know that the secret to productivity lies in the morning routine.
But it’s not what you think— they’re not necessarily answering emails or checking spreadsheets at 4am. In fact, most of them prefer to keep things cool.
Want to know how to maximize your mornings?
Here are 14 things smart people do to make their mornings incredibly productive.
1) They meditate
Many successful people—from CEOs to celebrities—practice meditation, and that’s because they know that in order to be productive, they must learn how to be more present.
They have to get rid of mental clutter so there’s room for more important things later in the day.
On a regular day, they do it while they’re still in bed…even before they reach for their cellphone.
But when they have to rush, they’ll just listen to guided meditation while they’re preparing breakfast or taking their shower.
For smart people, meditation is simply a must to boost productivity. It’s as important as a glass of water.
2) They set specific intentions
Whether they do during their morning meditation or when they’re making their to-do list, they take a moment to pause and think of their main goal for the day.
They will make sure they define what they want to accomplish as specifically as possible— “To finish my painting” or “To learn a new skill” or “To get 10 new clients”.
They will write down or repeat their intentions several times a day to keep them on track.
3) They make their bed
Folding your blanket and fixing your sheet don’t even take a minute, but accomplishing it can have an impact to your day.
You might wonder “What’s the big deal with making one’s bed?”
Well, what makes this simple ritual boost productivity is that it makes you FEEL you’re already productive.
It gives you the feeling that you have self-discipline, which can inspire you to be productive throughout the day.
4) They do 10-minute cardio
The most productive people know that they can’t simply skip this one!
To be productive, you have to be full of energy. But they don’t want to overwhelm themselves. Instead of targeting one full hour of workout a day, they just set a minimum of ten minutes of cardio.
After all, many experts agree that 10 minutes of cardio and 1 minute of sprint could have the same benefits as a 45-minute workout done at a moderate pace.
By keeping it at ten minutes, it’s easy to turn it into a habit. They make sure they never skip exercise no matter how busy or stressed they will get.
5) They take a cold shower
Taking cold showers has many benefits. It improves your immune system, improves mental health (it helps release endorphins), and most of all—it wakes you up.
Doing this early in the morning might not be so inviting, but smart people know it’s the shock their body needs to start the day right.
So even if they hate the cold water, they’d jump in.
6) They eat energy-boosting breakfast
Smart people know that food greatly improves productivity—well, the right kind of food, of course.
That’s why they prepare only energy-boosting breakfasts and pair it with a healthy, caffeinated drink like black coffee or tea.
They’d never skip it because not only does it make them energized, they want to make sure they won’t be munching on unhealthy snacks by 10 a.m.
7) They review their dream board
After they’ve taken care of their physical health, they’ll then switch to work mode…but not yet on turbo.
The first thing they do is remind themselves WHY they’re working in the first place.
Knowing the “why” is very important to the most productive people.
First, they’d look at the big picture. They’d look at their dream board—probably one that’s plastered on their wall or saved on their phone—and then they’d reflect.
Then, they’d look at their goals and tasks for the day and ask themselves why they’re doing it and if it’s connected to their dreams.
8) They do deep work before lunch
For most people, 8am-2pm is the most productive time to do work. It’s when we usually have the highest level of focus and energy.
But you have to figure it out by yourself. You might be different from most people.
Most writers, for example, do their deep work between 4am-11am.
The smartest people have figured out the time when they are most productive and work during those times.
9) They do the Pomodoro technique
Contrary to popular belief, working nonstop isn’t the best way to get productive.
Smart people use the Pomodoro technique for time management because it increases productivity and prevents them from having a burnout.
It’s quite simple to follow.
- You do one task for 25 minutes.
- Take a five-minute break.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 three times.
- Take a 30 minute break.
Give it a try and you’ll realize that it’s what you should have been doing all these years.
10) They write a to-do list
Ah yes, the to-do list. No productive person goes through their day without it.
Some make it so detailed while others just write the three most important things to accomplish for the day.
There are no rules. It really depends on what works for each person.
Making a to-do list is important not only because it makes us more organized, it also takes away some of our mental load.
We don’t have to think “Hmm, did I forget something?” or “What else was I supposed to do again?”, we simply check our list to know what we’re supposed to do.
11) They listen to music
You might think “But isn’t music distracting?”
Well, it depends. Some music can actually boost productivity. It all depends on how you work and the type of music you listen to and what type of work you do.
What sets smart people apart from the rest of us is that they’ve figured out which type of music boosts their productivity.
I know a published writer who does his best work when there’s rock music playing (at four am)!
Personally, I find it that classical music can make me think and write better, but anything with lyrics slows me down.
So if you haven’t explored it yet, I suggest you figure out how music (or even ASMR) affects your productivity.
Who knows, you might find out that music is what you need all along!
12) They plan a reward at the end of the day
The most productive people know that an effective way to motivate themselves to do their best is by thinking of a reward after a hard day’s work.
It can be as simple as having a nice dinner and a warm bath, or as exciting as attending a concert.
By visualizing on the reward at the end of the day, they can push themselves out of a slump and finish more things.
This also works because setting a reward encourages us to delay gratification.
Instead of chilling with their work colleague, talking about random stuff, they’ll just think “Let’s just have fun later and focus on the job now”.
13) They review what they’ve done before lunch
Before they head to the cafeteria, they’ll review what they’ve done so far.
This way, they’d know how productive they are and what else they need to do in the afternoon.
By making this a habit, they’re training themselves to become more productive in the morning. After all, they don’t want to always be disappointed in themselves.
14) They make a plan for the rest of the day
Since they already have a to-do list, it’s easy for them to review what they’ve done and haven’t done yet.
But then there are just some tasks that will inevitably be added as the day progresses.
There will be impromptu meetings, unexpected phone calls, emergencies…
And because of this, they’ll take the time to reassess their goals and think of ways to still achieve them as much as possible.
These are the things that can make our mornings incredibly productive.
If you want to work smarter, if you want to be less stressed, then start to change your morning habits.
Your will see that your productivity (and your life) will improve tremendously.