It’s worthwhile to take a fresh and honest look at your typical morning routine and challenge yourself to make small improvements.
Mornings set the tone for the entire day:
- a beautifully organized morning tends to create a day of high productivity and abundant joy.
- a harried and frazzled morning tends to create a day of rushed appointments and higher stress.
Ultimately, when personal productivity is improved, relationships are deepened and prosperity is increased.
Why? Because it’s all about energy.
Few dynamics are more energy-depleting than habitual disorganization.
On the other hand, the more organized a person becomes and the more smoothly their morning routine flows, the more energy they will have left to devote to healthy relationships, self-care, and their highest-value and highest-return activities.
Here are six hacks to get the most out of your morning routine.
1. Go to Bed Early Each Night Whenever Possible
Each evening, the feeling of sleepiness tends to come in intermittent waves.
For most people, the first wave of sleepiness washes through sometime between 8:00-9:30pm.
Most people ignore this first wave – but what would happen if you honored this first wave, and used it to retire early?
I’ll tell you what would happen: you’d wake up early the next morning feeling fantastic and with more time to enjoy your morning routine and get a jump on your day.
In order for this to work, it’s best not to have any more coffee after 3pm (I’m not saying you wouldn’t fall asleep anyway, but would the quality of your sleep be as restful and restorative?).
2. Use a Quotidian Checklist for Your Morning Routine
While most checklists are used for “one-offs” (tasks that need doing only once), a quotidian checklist is a roster of your daily rituals. Included on this list are the items that, when feeling rushed, you might be tempted to skip, forget, or do out of their ideal sequence.
Tasks that are already built into your muscle-memory (“brush teeth”) are not included on this list.
IDEA: this list can be written in a Google Drive document that you keep on your computer and can print up a fresh copy each Sunday night for the week ahead, yet can also access on your smartphone app.
EXCEPTION: if you have children in your household under the age of 6, this perhaps will not work well. Though small children benefit from some structure, they are too soulful and in-the-moment to thrive under a strictly linear regimen. Instead, just enjoy your time with them, be present and take comfort knowing that when they’re a bit older, you’ll be able to implement more organization into your family’s daily life.
Instead, for households with very young children, an Accomplishment Whiteboard might be more appropriate:
Back in 2009, after babysitting twin infants, the above was one of my first productivity videos (before I lost all that weight – HaH!) about using a whiteboard to remember what you have to do and what comes next.
Need extra inspiration to be consistent with your new lifestyle habits? Become better organized by subscribing to our Quality of Life newsletter. Each week you’ll receive a simple lifestyle strategy that will inspire you to make better use of your time and energy. It’s free. Sign-up now and as a bonus you’ll also get instant access to our downloadable report on using checklists to become highly effective.
3. Establish Your Biggest Priorities for the Day
This particular priorities list can be much shorter, with as little as three items.
Determine which activities, if you completed them today, would give you the most positive return and write them down. Try to make at least one of those items revenue-producing, if you can.
Many of us have complicated relationships with our daily checklist of tasks – we ignore it, resent it… or we can’t find it!
You don’t have to use a checklist every single day for the rest of your life; however, it’s wise for everyone to have a favorite productivity system that they’re playing with and fine-tuning.
The reason that I’m such a big believer in the process of improving personal productivity is because I love free time and playtime. For that reason, when I work, I have to make the utmost of my time. Part of your morning routine should include clarifying for yourself what your three biggest of the priorities are for your day ahead.Making lists help you spill out the contents of your cluttered brain.Click To Tweet
Haven’t Been Successful Using a Checklist? Try Again
Everyone knows what it feels like to start a list and then set it aside and not use it. But that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t significant value in creating the list in the first place. And it definitely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make a fresh attempt.6 best ideas for a great morning routine.Click To Tweet
Trust the Morning Routine Process
Making lists help you spill out the contents of your cluttered brain so that you see with increased clarity. This process of list-writing quiets the mind and improves focus. Even if it turns out to be an outrageously long list (it’s not uncommon for CEOs to have to-do lists with 150 items on it), at least you know what needs to be done. That’s a good first step.
4. Be Phone-Free for the First Hour
Get through a significant portion of your Quotidian List before you let yourself look at your smartphone, tablet or laptop. The first hour of your morning must be entirely free from any computer activity. Once you get sucked into that black hole, you’ve lost a prime opportunity to build easy-momentum for the day ahead.
5. Hydrate Immediately After Waking
I’m astounded by the number of people who have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, before they’ve even had a tall glass of water. Your body is dehydrated after 8 hours of sleep, so please give it the nourishment that it needs. If you want to get fancy, you can alternate each morning between lemon water (room temperature water with a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice stirred into it) or apple cider vinegar water (just rinse your teeth afterward so that the acids don’t harm your tooth enamel).
The question is not whether you are a productive person, the question is: how might you “gamify” your day so that you’re constantly increasing your feelings of accomplishment?
If you’re listening carefully to how your body feels after consuming that first tall glass of water right after waking, you’ll likely notice a positive improvement. This is a terrific way to prime your body for an enjoyable and productive day ahead.
6. Take 15 Minutes to Just ‘Be’
If you have children in your home, see if you can awaken before the rest of the household, and go sit somewhere comfortable and quiet. While seated, you can meditate, read your bucket list, look at your vision board, write in your gratitude journal, pray – or any type of contemplative, silent endeavor that allows you to look objectively at your life and celebrate your own human experience (for those of you who walk your dogs in the morning, you can take the quietest route and do a walking meditation).
Taking these 15 minutes of quiet contemplation will calm your mind and improve your focus for the entire day, especially if you do it each morning.
A better morning routine leads to an improvement in overall personal-productivity.
- which of these above six methods are you already doing?
- which are you not doing but that you suspect might be worth trying?
- which person you know might benefit most from seeing this article?
- what hacks have you discovered for effective morning routines that are not listed here?