Perhaps you find yourself always asking these questions: “Why am I not productive?” or “How do I become more successful and get control of my life?” Masson Currey, an LA-based writer and editor, was also wondering how he could become more productive and creative. He wanted to feel more inspired and optimize his creativity at work. As he searched for how to do this, he compiled notes and wrote a book on how the most important people in history start their early mornings. Some of what he found was quite surprising. For example, every day Beethoven meticulously counted exactly 60 coffee beans for his morning coffee and Benjamin Franklin stood in front of an open window naked to take an “air bath.” Even if some of these people were eccentric, they all had their own morning rituals to fuel their daily creativity and productivity. This top 15 list is a compilation of morning routines that are proven to greatly benefit your mind, body, and soul.
15. Take a deep breath and start to think about your day positively
Most of us automatically reach for our phones when we wake up. We don’t take the time to appreciate the day and that fact we are able to wake up. Some even hate the idea of getting up and getting ready for work. Some stay in bed longer and end up running late which causes frustration starting a domino effect which negatively impacts their day. When we take control of ourselves the moment we wake up, we immediately control our whole day. So the next time that your alarm goes off, don’t hit snooze. Instead, get up immediately. Open the window and let the sunshine in. Take a deep breath and start to think positively. Marcus Aurelius said it best, “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
14. Make your bed
US Navy SEAL Admiral, William H. McRaven, explained how accomplishing the first task of the day, no matter how small it is, will make you productive. When he was in his six months SEAL training, his instructors. who were all Vietnam War veterans, inspected his bed every morning. It was a very mundane simple task but every morning they were all required to do it. He was perplexed at first since they were all aspiring to be a real warrior. Then he realized that there was some wisdom behind doing this simple task. He understood that if he is able to do this simple task it would give him a sense of accomplishment. It is like the gear of productivity has been put into motion. Doing this simple task will encourage you to do another, then another, which leads you to do your daily activities easily. By accomplishing one simple task in the morning, you are able to jump the other hurdles of your daily responsibilities. “Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that 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. – Adm. McRaven.
13. Do a light stretching
It is important to stretch when we wake up. After sleeping for several hours stretching revitalizes the blood flow, especially to the brain. Also, some people experience leg cramps in the morning. Usually, the cause is the drop in oxygen or blood circulation to the legs. Light stretching can help your body increase that flow. Stretching will also help increase your energy for the rest of the day and keep you from being lethargic and tired.
Some people may raise their eyebrows questioning the legitimacy of meditation. Perhaps because it is often associated to Asian esoteric religions, so people may think that it is just one of those religious rituals. Actually, meditation has a lot of advantages; it is a practice of mindfulness. Meditating rewires your brain muscles. When you go to the gym for a physical workout, you use your muscles to lift weights. Meditating is a bit like lifting weights for the brain, it is a mental exercise. In fact, a Harvard study shows how “meditation provides cognitive and physiological benefits.” “It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” – Britta Hölzel, a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany.
11. Do a light workout
There are people who like to workout in the afternoon. But if you want to boost your morning energy, do a light workout. There are workout routines that you can do for 5, 7, or 10 minutes. An article was published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal about the 7-minute scientific workout. There are 12 exercises in it using only your body, a wall and a chair. It is also important to note that if it is your first time working out, you should start off lightly. If you go too hard you might give up after a few days because of fatigue and soreness. It is better to go easy at first and level up every few days when you think you are ready.
10. Drink a lot of water
One of the best, yet simple, health tips from the Japanese is to drink water on an empty stomach, especially in the morning right after you wake up. There are many benefits to drinking water, such as, re-hydrating, increasing metabolism, ridding the body of toxins, and helping with weight loss. Some people drink hot water with lemon for optimal benefits. Lemon contains citric acid that cleanse the body of toxins. It is also high in vitamin C, potassium, and alkaline.
9. Eat a healthy breakfast
Most of us are too busy to prepare a healthy snack in the morning. Usually, we just grab a donut or sandwich and down it with coffee. Convenient, yes, but will it sustain your body with essential nutrients? Not really. Eating a healthy breakfast that includes a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and low-fat milk has many benefits. So it is very important to start this habit. According to Ruth Frechman, a Nutritionist and author, a typical healthy breakfast “should consist of about 25% protein, 25% carbohydrates, and 50% fruits and/or vegetables.” Also, good breakfast foods provide the body with important nutrients such as calcium, fibre, iron, and protein. These nutrients improve cognitive functions, give the body energy and they can also help fight obesity. A study done by the American Dietetic Association shows that children who ate healthy breakfasts performed better in school because they were able to concentrate more than kids who did not eat breakfast. As adults, we can perform better at work and in meetings. So as the old adage goes, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper,” – Adele Davis.
8. 5 Minute Journal
Developing a habit of writing a five-minute journal can make your life better. Tim Ferris, a renowned self-help author, confirms its effectiveness. The five-minute journal is great for those who don’t have the time (or patience) to write long form. Instead, this journal encourages you to answer simple questions like, “What would make today great?” or “I am grateful for…” Also, a psychology study done by the Greater Good Science Center concluded that showing and expressing gratitude helps with holistic body development which leads to experiencing more positive emotions and less feelings of loneliness, having a stronger and better immune system, and feeling more compassion.
7. Write down your goals and vision
What or where do you want to see yourself in the next 10 years? A successful entrepreneur? Or a freelance programmer? A study by Dominican University shows that people who write down their goals are more successful than those who do not. So, write down your goals every morning and also envision yourself being what you want to be. “Once we get those muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts [nebulous worries, jitters, and preoccupations] on the page, we face our day with clearer eyes.” – Julia Cameron
6. Write down your best ideas
Most people are bursting with creativity in the morning. So when that sudden bubble of inspiration hits you, don’t wait any longer to write it down. You can’t trust your brain to record every snippet of information that goes through it. Record it immediately. Who knows, maybe those bits and pieces can be your notes for your future bestselling book.
5. Schedule your day
Each morning, you begrudgingly wake up, expecting another unproductive day at work. To avoid this there is one important thing you can do: schedule your whole day. This allows you to list everything you need to get done and prioritize them. Some people even make their schedules a day in advance which helps if they need to incorporate appointments and commitments. Being able to jot down your priorities also helps you manage your time better and avoid procrastinating. As Steve Jobs said, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
4. Stay away from your phone
What is our automatic response the moment we wake up? We reach for our cellphone. It seems like our hands have their own brain and they make their ways towards our phones. Almost everyone is guilty of this. Having this instant reaction, we are forming a bad habit of procrastinating first thing in the morning. Try to stop yourself from opening your social media accounts and checking your emails.
3. Read a book
It is good to read a book in the morning while our minds are still clear and fresh. You don’t need to read hundreds of pages on day one. Start slowly and allocate just five minutes for reading, and let momentum do its work. You can also enjoy reading a few pages while having a cup of coffee. Reading is also great for stimulating your creative senses. Exercising is a physiological workout just as reading is a mental workout. A study by the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE) found that mental stimulation, like reading, can help slow down the development of Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Start working on the most difficult task first
Often the most difficult task on our to do lists is a top priority. Yet we end up procrastinating by doing mundane and easy tasks first. Then, at the end of the day, we realize we did not accomplish the things that matters most. Mark Twain said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” That live frog is your worst and most difficult task of the day. Although this habit is not always easy to start or maintain, confronting and completing your most dreaded and biggest task will give you a great sense of accomplishment and fuel you to move on to tackle your other tasks.
1. Refrain from multi-tasking
We have this false notion that in order to accomplish a lot of things in a short period of time, we need to multitask. Surprisingly, it might not be as effective as we think it is. Multi-tasking involves shifting our focus from one task to another, seemingly all at the same time. When we do this, we don’t give our full attention to any single undertaking. The result is often lower-quality output. A study by the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance found that multi-tasking makes us less efficient and decreases our productivity. So in order to be in our optimal and most efficient self, we have to give our full attention to a single task at a time.