Photo credit: Roberto Bouza (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m really not a morning person.

I’ve tried to get myself going in the early hours of the morning, but I’ve always been more of a night owl – my creative juices seem to flow better in the later hours. So I’d be the last person to suggest that you need to force yourself out of bed before your body and mind are really ready to do so.

But when you do get up, you may find that you’re pressed for time and have fallen behind the rest of the crowd in what you need to get done during the day. A slow start to your day won’t help anyone, let alone you.

Just because you’re not up as the sun rises doesn’t mean that you can’t put yourself in a position to make sure that the day ahead will be a productive one. You need to put some things into play so that you can make the most of your waking hours.

On that note, here are 10 “morning hacks” to jumpstart your day:

1. Wash your face right after getting up.

Rather than make your way to the kitchen for that cup of coffee, head to the bathroom and splash some cold water on your face. Once the alarm goes off, head out of bed and straight to the sink. The refreshing feeling you’ll get from the water hitting your face will act as a trigger that it’s time for your body to get moving. Think of it as having a pail of water thrown on you while you’re still in bed – but with a little less wetness and cleanup required.

2. Program your coffeemaker in advance.

This one may not sit well with the coffee connoisseurs out there, but the smell of fresh brewed coffee sends a signal to your brain that says, “It’s time to get up”. If you’ve got a coffeemaker with pre-programming features then you’re all set. Just set it to start each day at the time you know you’ll want to get up (remember that you don’t have to get up earlier, be reasonable with your demands on yourself), prepare it the night before, and you’ll be good to go when morning comes.

3. Put your alarm clock out of reach.

I keep my alarm clock across the room so that I have to actually get out of bed to turn it off. It’s also close enough to my bedroom door so that I can head straight to the bathroom to give myself my morning splash. I also use an alarm clock app on my iPhone that takes some effort to shut off (such as Mission Alarm Clock; there’s also Challenging Alarm Clock for Android users), meaning I actually have to be awake in order to stop it from going off.

Oh, and by using my iPhone I’ve got an alarm clock that is great for travel and I’m less likely to abuse the device – it is a pretty expensive alarm clock, after all.

4. Go outside.

I step outside with my coffee and sit on my deck whenever the weather permits. It connects me with the outside world right off the bat and puts me in a place where I’m not jumping online right away. I’m enjoying the day as it arrives (for me, anyway) and sipping a fine cup of joe while doing so. Fresh air is good at any time of day, and getting it early on is never a bad thing.

5. Plan your day the night before.

Despite being done at night — the night before — this is most certainly a morning hack. I give my task manager a good review before hitting the sack for the night. Because my late-night habits often put me at performance par with those who get up a couple of hours before I do, I’m rarely behind in my productivity. The key is to “time shift” so that you’re ahead of the early risers the night before. By planning your day in advance (and even doing some of the tasks the night before), you can go to bed at ease.

6. Mix it up.

I do the things above as part of my wake-up routine, mixing it up from time to time but never straying from these things. For example, I like to make freshly-ground coffee, so I do that instead of pre-programming it for myself. But I prepare my wife’s coffee for her the night before and still get the benefits of the aroma in the morning. I don’t go outside every day – sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate – but I definitely look outside every day when I get up. I’ve positioned my sitting chair in my bedroom in such a way that I can enjoy my coffee while looking out the sliding glass doors every morning. A routine is beneficial, but don’t make it essential. You need to have some flexibility built in, otherwise when things you can’t control cause your routine to go off the rails you’ll be more inclined to start sluggishly.

7. Recognize your best workflow patterns.

It’s a commonly held belief by those who dwell in the productivity realm that email shouldn’t be the first thing you bury yourself in when you start your day. I agree, but if you’re having trouble jumpstarting your day you need to figure out if that’s why or if it’s something else that needs to be adjusted. Perhaps by setting yourself up the night before, you feel that email can be your first target. Go with that until it doesn’t work for you. Maybe, like me, the first thing you check is your RSS feeds so that you can have something to spark your day. It could be that you want to dive right into the heavy stuff while your energy is high. Take the time to really reflect on your workflow practices and patterns and honestly ask yourself what isn’t working and what is. Leave the stuff that is alone, monitor the stuff that sits somewhere in between until you see how it reacts to the changes that you must make to the stuff that isn’t working. Wholesale changes rarely lead to results; you often abandon the changes altogether when you try that. Tweaks, however, can lead to results because they’re not as painful to adopt. So rather than going ahead and “changing”, try “tweaking” instead.

What tips do you use to jumpstart your day? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

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