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Why People With Morning Routines Are More Productive (and How You Can Start Yours)

Why People With Morning Routines Are More Productive (and How You Can Start Yours)

In the middle of a dream you are having, you become faintly aware of a song playing in the background. The sound is familiar; you know it. It seems to go on forever, and what started as background noise is now fully in the forefront and very, very annoying. With sleepy eyes, you awake to realize the sound is your alarm, and it’s been going off for thirty minutes. Once again, you have slept through your alarm(s) and will undoubtedly be late for work with little, if any, time to make coffee and eat breakfast.

Chances are, any time this has happened to you, you drive to work promising yourself that tomorrow will be different. You’ll get up as soon as your alarm goes off and even get to work thirty minutes earlier than usual. But the next morning comes and goes, and you find yourself over-sleeping cocooned in your warm comforter. But not having a morning ritual does more than start your day in a frenzy – it impacts how successfully you approach everything in your life.

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Stick to Your Morning Routine Can Make You Happier and Healthier

We’ve all heard the cliche expression, “the early bird gets the worm,” but we aren’t birds and we don’t want worms, so why rush around in the morning when we could be sleeping?

An interesting study showed that night owls are more prone to moodiness and addictive habits,[1] while those who rise with the sun are more alert and higher-functioning. This ultimately results in a healthier immune system and a generally positive outlook on life.

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Getting Up Early Can Reduce Your Stress Level

I don’t know about you, but if I can take any kind of steps to decrease my stress levels, sign me up! A University of London study showed that individuals who are up by 7 at the latest were not only at a lower risk of weight problems, but they were less stressed and depressed. In fact many of the individuals showed signs of easier weight loss.

I know sometimes I can wake up really grouchy, but if ultimately it means I could wake up smiling then I’m sure I can grin and bear it!

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When You Aren’t Distracted by Stress, Negative Emotions and Poor Health, You Are More Productive.

It’s pretty simple: when all you have to do is wake up earlier to lose weight, stress less, and feel generally better about your entire life, you have so much less to worry about when it comes to meeting those deadlines at work and staying on top of your social life. You may suddenly find yourself making plans for coffee with friends rather than a late night cocktail. You could even become a morning jogger, freeing up those evenings you usually spend at the gym.

Starting Your Morning Routine Can Be Hard at First

  • You might be a little grouchy at first. If you live alone, this may not be such a problem, but if you live with your spouse or a roommate, you may want to give them a heads up that you could wake up on the wrong side of the bed for a while.
  • You may not feel like you’re being productive at first. When you start getting up earlier, you may be dragging a bit. Though it may feel like you’re a zombie while brushing your teeth or feeding your pets, it will get better. You just have to keep it up!

How to Get Up Early and Become a Productive Person

Now that you know you want to become an early riser and see your life change for the better, you have to figure out how you want to do that. The following scenarios are ideas to help you kickstart a new routine while you find what works best for you. While it would be great to wake up early tomorrow and drive to the gym, let’s take some baby steps. First we need to get out of bed and put our feet on the ground.

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Hydrate, Eat, Breathe.

  • When you first wake up in the morning, you have to get out of the fasting mode your body enters during sleep. The best way to wake your body up is to drink a full glass of water. If you need to turn the coffee pot on, go ahead, but while it brews enjoy some ice water. This helps increase your energy while also telling your metabolism that it’s time to pay attention.[2]
  • Have a healthy breakfast! While it cooks, do a little stretching to work the kinks out of your muscles. Bringing oxygen to your muscles wakes your whole body up and let’s your mind know it’s time to stay alert.

Make a List, Catch Up on Current Events, Envision Your Day.

  • When you wake up, set aside just a little time to catch up on current events. Wake up your brain by engaging in the world around you through the news. We’re all connected to our phones, so it’s a safe bet you can just scroll to a news app while standing at your kitchen counter.
  • Make a list of the things you want to accomplish throughout the rest of the day. Start small. You don’t need to change the world before 8am, but if you want to get to work before 8 and make those copies before 9, write that down! As you go through the day, check off what you’ve accomplished. If you make it feel like a personal challenge, you’re more likely to increase those completed tasks day after day [3].

Don’t Roll Over and Check Your Phone Right Away.

  • Yes, this one thing is a habit all on its own. When you’re trying to wake up earlier and change your routine, the worst thing you can do is hit ‘stop’ on your phone alarm and then fall into the Facebook hole. Before you know it, you’ve been scrolling through your timeline for 45 minutes and the time you allowed yourself to get up earlier and be productive is totally gone. When your alarm goes off, roll over, turn it off and get up!

General Tips and Tricks

  • Get up at the same time every day, and try to go to bed around the same time, too. This helps your body develop a natural sleep pattern that can go a long way in becoming a morning person.[4]
  • Have something to look forward to. This can be anything from trying a new lunch spot later or just planning a really delicious breakfast. Find what works for you and get excited about it.
  • Be selfish about it. Remember that you’re waking up earlier to be less stressed and more zestful. Don’t get down on yourself if it takes a week or two to really get into the swing of things. You’ve probably been an over-sleeper for a long time. Give yourself time to break that habit.

Do you have other suggestions on how to be a morning person? We’d love to hear them! Be sure to share.

Reference

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Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

How to Find Your Core Values to Live a Fulfilling Life 60 Workout Motivation Quotes for Tough Workouts The 7 Types of Learners: What Kind of Learner Am I? What To Eat (And Not To Eat) When You Are Suffering From Inflammation! Yes Life Can Be Boring Sometimes. But There’re Some Tricks to Make It More Interesting

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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