You’ll wake up for about 25,000 mornings in your adult life, give or take a few. According to a report from the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy in the United States is 79 years old. Most people in wealthy nations are hovering around the 80–year mark.
(68 years as an adult) x (365 days each year) = 24,820 days.
That’s what you get in your adult life. 25,000 times you get to open your eyes, face the day, and decide what to do next. I don’t know about you, but I’ve let a lot of those mornings slip by. Once I realized this, I started thinking about how I could develop a better morning routine. I still have a lot to learn, but here are some strategies that you can use to get the most out of your 25,000 mornings.
8 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Morning
Here are the strategies that I’ve found to be most effective for getting the most out of my morning.
1. Manage your energy, not your time
If you take a moment to think about it, you’ll probably realize that you are better at doing certain tasks at certain times. For example, my creative energy is highest in the morning, so that’s when I do my writing each day.
By comparison, I block out my afternoons for interviews, phone calls, and emails. I don’t need my creative energy to be high for those tasks, so that’s the best time for me to get them done. And I tend to have my best workouts in the late afternoon or early evening, so that’s when I head to the gym.
What type of energy do you have in the morning? What task is that energy best suited for?
2. Prepare the night before
I don’t do this nearly as often as I should, but if you only do one thing each day then spend a few minutes each night organizing your to–do list for tomorrow. It takes 10 minutes that night and saves 3 hours the next day.
3. Don’t open email until noon
Sounds simple. It took me awhile to get over the urge to open my inbox, but eventually I realized that everything can wait a few hours. Nobody is going to email you about a true emergency (a death in the family, etc.), so leave your email alone for the first few hours of each day. Use the morning to do what’s important rather than responding to what is “urgent.”
4. Turn your phone off and leave it in another room
This eliminates the urge to check text messages, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. This simple strategy eliminates the likelihood of slipping into half–work where you waste time dividing your attention among meaningless tasks.
5. Work in a cool place
Have you ever noticed how you feel groggy and sluggish in a hot room? Turning the temperature down or moving to a cooler place is an easy way to focus your mind and body.
6. Sit up or stand up
Your mind needs oxygen to work properly. Your lungs need to be able to expand and contract to fill your body with oxygen. That sounds simple enough, but here’s the problem: most people sit hunched over while staring at a screen and typing.
When you sit hunched over, your chest is in a collapsed position and your diaphragm is pressing against the bottom of your lungs, which hinders your ability to breathe easily and deeply. Sit up straight or stand up and you’ll find that you can breathe easier and more fully. As a result, your brain will get more oxygen and you’ll be able to concentrate better.
(Small tip: When sitting, I usually place a pillow in the small of my back. This prevents my lower back from rounding, which keeps me more upright.)
7. Eat as a reward for working hard
I practice intermittent fasting, which means that I eat my first meal around noon each day. I’ve been doing this for almost two years. I also fast because it allows me to get more out of my day. Take a moment to think about how much time people spend each day thinking, planning, and consuming food. By adopting intermittent fasting, I don’t waste an hour each morning figuring out what to eat for breakfast, cooking it, and cleaning up. Instead, I use my morning to work on things that are important to me. Then, I eat good food and big meals as a reward for working hard.
8. Develop a “pre–game routine” to start your day
My morning routine starts by pouring a cold glass of water. Some people kick off their day with ten minutes of meditation. Similarly, you should have a sequence that starts your morning ritual. This tiny routine signals to your brain that it’s time to get into work mode or exercise mode or whatever mode you need to be in to accomplish your task.
25,000 Mornings: The Power of a Morning Routine
Just as it’s rare for anyone to experience overnight success, it’s also rare for our lives crumble to pieces in an instant. Most unproductive or unhealthy behaviors are the result of slow, gradual choices that add up to bad habits. A wasted morning here. An unproductive morning there.
The good news is that exceptional results are also the result of consistent daily choices. Nowhere is this more true than with your morning routine. The way you start your day is often the way that you finish it. What you do each morning is an indicator of how you approach your entire day. It’s the choices that we repeatedly make that determine the life we live, the health we enjoy, and the work we create.
You’ve got 25,000 mornings. What will you do with each one?
James Clear writes at JamesClear.com, where he shares science-based ideas for living a better life and building habits that stick. To get strategies for boosting your mental and physical performance by 10x, join his free newsletter.
This article was originally published on JamesClear.com.
Featured photo credit: Mirai Takahashi via flickr.com