Key habits that add immense value.
When I look back on my morning routine from five years ago, I can’t help but cringe at the thought of it. It was, to put it bluntly, a complete mess.
I rolled out of bed just in time for class, I consistently forgot to grab my textbook, notebook, assignment, etc., and I came back to a cluttered space that was near impossible to work in.
I had a lot on my plate, and I knew that if I was going to succeed in my tough engineering classes, I needed to get organized, and fast. So, I devised a plan. I added a few simple tasks to my daily routine that helped me actually look forward to my mornings, rather than dread them.
Nailing down a consistent morning routine was key to my academic success. Now, it’s just as crucial for my work, because it helps me stay on top of everything I needed to accomplish day after day.
By making your mornings more productive and enjoyable as well, you’ll be able to achieve those lofty goals you’ve set for yourself. Thus, here are five simple tasks you can do each morning to make those early hours something you actually look forward to.
1. Make Your Bed Right Away
Many of us were tasked with making our bed before school at a very young age. Why should your adult life be any different? When you make your bed first thing in the morning, you’ll be less tempted to crawl back into it a few minutes later.
Plus, Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, notes that:
“Making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.”
I think we can all agree that taking a couple minutes to make your bed in the morning is a small price to pay for higher productivity and greater overall happiness.
2. Use This Scheduling Tool
There is one key scheduling tool that I use every single morning, and it works far better than anything else I’ve tried. It’s called a vertical planner.
The vertical planner has a few crucial features that will help you be immensely more productive.
My favorites include:
- You can make a to-do list for every single day, because there are seven vertical columns per weekly spread
- You can plan out a specific block of time for each task you need to get done (many of the vertical planners are sectioned by the hour)
- You can plan out your to-do list days in advance
- You can visually see all the things you need to get done in the morning, because they are at the top of the list (essentially, your to-do list will be organized by priority, since the morning hours are at the top of your list)
Thus, the vertical planner is a phenomenal scheduling tool, because it allows you to prioritize the tasks you need to get done in the morning, which is the best time to do them anyway, since your mind is fresh from a full night’s rest.
3. Work in This Specific Way
While many of us our guilty of trying to multitask to boost our efficiency (myself included), this actually isn’t the best way to accomplish high quality work.
In fact, various research has shown that attempting to multitask can actually decrease both efficiency and brain function. Licensed psychologist Guy Winch, Ph.D., states that:
“A recent study found that people who were frequent media multitaskers had reductions in their brains’ grey matter — specifically, in areas related to cognitive control and the regulation of motivation and emotion.”
Therefore, trying to do multiple tasks at once isn’t the best approach. Instead, try to work on one specific thing at a time. The following is what I like to do.
Soon after I wake up in the morning, when my mind is fresh, I sit down and do 60 minutes of focused, uninterrupted work. This includes putting away all potential distractions, like my cell phone. Try this approach out. I think you’ll be surprised by how much you can get done in a single hour.
4. Make Your Favorite Beverage
I’m a coffee fanatic. I know that many of you can relate. But even if you can’t, that’s ok, because no matter what your favorite beverage is, this suggestion still applies to you.
Whatever you enjoy drinking, whether it be coffee, tea, or warm lemon water, make an effort to have it first thing in the morning.
For one, it will give you something to look forward to. When I wake up and think of the fresh, hot cup of coffee I’m about to brew, I can’t help but smile. Also, if you do choose something that contains caffeine, like coffee or tea, you’ll receive the following brain boosting benefits:
“With adenosine out of the way, these brain-sparking chemicals can flow more freely — giving you a surge of energy and potentially improving mental performance and slowing age-related mental decline.”
Therefore, not only will you enjoy sipping on your favorite beverage, but you’ll also get your mind primed to produce high quality work within the first few hours of your day.
5. Carve Out 30 Minutes for This
I know that some people like to exercise in the evening, and occasionally, I do too. But for the most part, I like to get my workout out of the way early.
One reason is because it can help break up your morning. I like to do a few hours of work, go for a 30 minute run, and then get back to a few more hours of work.
Interestingly enough, the strategy of taking breaks between periods of work has actually been shown to be highly effective. According to psychology professor Alejandro Lleras,
“We propose that deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused…From a practical standpoint, our research suggests that, when faced with long tasks (such as studying before a final exam or doing your taxes), it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!”
The evidence is clear that frequent breaks will actually benefit your work, so you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking a break to exercise. Whether you want to get up and hit the gym right away, or wait a few hours and then go, you’ll benefit both mentally and physically from moving your body.
By adding more structure to your mornings, you’ll reduce the chaos, boost your productivity, and set yourself up for an amazing day ahead.
When I first got to college, I didn’t even realize that my disorganized morning routine was severely impacting my mood and productivity for the entire day, until I started doing small things that brought me joy, like making a fresh cup of coffee and writing out a to-do list for the day.
Don’t wait any longer. Do a few things you enjoy each morning to ensure that you start off on a positive note, because those small tasks will ultimately boost your happiness and help you reach your goals.