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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.

The 7 Types of Learners: What Kind of Learner Am I? What If All the Choices You Make Every Day Aren’t What You Need Most? 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 Why Our Personal Values Matter More Than Ever Today

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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