How a Simple Morning Routine Can Streamline Your Productivity

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Holly-Noelle Haworth

Unlike many of my peers, I have always considered myself a morning person. I never had a hard time waking up when I was younger, nor do I now. When my alarm rings, I can wake up without hitting the snooze button over and over. But, what had set me apart from many of the people I looked up to and thought of as successful was my lack of a morning routine. I used to wake up and quickly take a shower, grab a bite to eat, chug my cappuccino, and rush out the door for whatever I was doing that day. Living this way took its toll on my health, both physically and mentally—not to mention it put a damper on my productivity. After continually getting sick or not having the right kind of energy to complete simple tasks, I decided that I needed to create a morning routine for myself. 

To get started on my journey of finding a morning routine that would streamline my productivity, I first read several studies on what it takes to form a habit. What has been true for me may not be true for you. But on average, it takes me one month to successfully form a habit. It might take you less time… or it might take you more. Don’t worry about how long it takes, just be proud of yourself for trying. In reading about forming habits, I learned the importance of attaching a new, or desired, habit to an old habit. For example, when you brush your teeth (old habit), try visualizing yourself being successful at work (new habit). This makes habit forming seem less daunting and difficult and, instead, puts you in the correct mindset for positive change.

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The next thing you should probably do if you are looking to create a morning routine for yourself would be to actually get some sleep. If you think you're a night owl, think again. You might actually enjoy the morning if you had an inspiring morning routine that gives you the necessary fuel for your busy, or not busy, day. Try turning your phone off thirty minutes before bed. Unplug. Trust me, you’ll fall asleep easier and when you get more than 7 hours of sleep, you’ll be glad. You might even want to go to sleep early again. See what I mean about forming habits?

Once you get enough sleep and can get out of bed without a fuss, you may be wondering what types of things you could be doing in the morning. Well luckily, there are a ton of options. What exactly you’ll want to do is up to you to decide. For the first few days, weeks or maybe even months, you will go through a trial-and-error phase. See what morning habits work for you. Consider what makes you feel good in the morning and what you’ll need to do in order to be productive for the rest of your day. 

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Here are some of my recommendations for creating a lasting morning routine.

1. Hydrate

When you wake up, nourish your body and hydrate yourself with a large glass of water. You just slept for however many hours and it's very important that you hydrate to wake yourself up. Plus, it revs up your metabolism and that's always nice, right?

2. Move your body

If you're an active person, a short workout might spark your interest. Maybe try doing some ab exercises or push-ups just to get your blood pumping. If you'd prefer something more calm, try some light stretching. I recommend doing a pike stretch and happy baby pose. Stretching has always helped me wake up and helps me feel limber for the rest of my day. If you need help finding stretches or exercises to do, there are several apps that offer easy-to-do routines in 10 minutes or less.

3. Burrr…

Okay, I admit… this one is brutal. But, it WILL wake you up. Take a cold shower for two to three minutes. You will, without a doubt, feel energized and ready to go for the day. It is super uncomfortable, but you will feel incredible afterwards. Plus, cold showers have tons of health benefits.

4. Get dressed. It’s easy as 1, 2, 3!

This one is specifically for people who work from home. If you work from home, you're probably tempted to stay in your pajamas or other comfortable clothes. However, I urge you to get dressed in your out-in-public clothes, as this will aid in your productivity for the day. If you don’t feel like getting dressed, try brushing your teeth, doing your hair, or trying out a new make-up look.

5. Meditate, meditate, meditate

You've all heard that meditation is crucial to living a well-balanced life before. The reason everyone tells you this is because it’s true! Meditating in the morning will ensure that you're properly clearing your mind for the day, which will, ultimately, allow for a more focused day. If you need extra help, I love the Headspace app. Starting a meditation routine on your own is often difficult, so try using an app until you get the hang of it. You'll be surprised at how easily your mind will wander, especially in the morning when you're still groggy from a good night's sleep.

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6. Chore it up

Do a light, easy chore. Yup, I said it. Start your day by doing a chore. First, it will make your nighttime to-do list smaller—hellooo, more time for Netflix! Second, it will make you feel like you’ve accomplished something. This, in and of itself, will fuel productivity throughout your entire day. 

7. Read

If you went to Kindergarten, you remember DEAR time. Drop everything and read! This may be easier for some people than it is for others. I, personally, would rather watch the Today Show as I sip on my coffee. But, try reading articles or books that will spark your interest and help you stay positive for the day. Start by reading for just ten minutes each morning. If you find yourself enjoying it, increase your reading time to fifteen or twenty minutes.

8. Journal

If you have yet to try journaling, now’s the perfect time. Write down whatever comes to your head. Dump it all onto a piece of paper or a computer document and then let it go for the rest of the day. This will clear your mind and get your brain functioning in a creative and productive way right off the bat. 

9. Goal-setting

As you have your coffee or tea, jot down some goals for the day. If you tend to think longterm, write down a long-term goal. If that seems overwhelming, then try writing one or two goals for that specific day. Note: this is different from planning your day, which you will also want to do.

10. Plan + visualize

Put all of your appointments, meetings, phone calls, classes, etc. into your planner or input them onto your phone calendar. Look at your day and visualize how you want it to go. If it's a busy day, I suggest you schedule in some meditation time (at least five minutes) or time for a long, hot bath at the end of the day. There is nothing wrong with penciling in some self-care. In fact, I highly encourage it.

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My personal morning routine takes about an hour, not including getting ready for my actual day—you know, makeup, hair, etc. An hour might seem like a lot of time, but I cherish this hour and feel unsteady if I don't have that time to myself in the morning. My morning hour, as I like to call it, sets me up for a productive and positive day where I am able to achieve my goals and complete my tasks. As I mentioned before, your morning routine will not be the same as mine. I went through the trial-and-error phase just as I hope you do. I discovered what worked for me and now I can't live without it. Hyperbolic? Sure. Anyways, try some things out over the next few weeks and see what works for you. Soon you will able to enjoy your mornings and start your day off right. 

What’s in your morning routine?