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Published on January 13, 2020

30 Practical Ideas to Create Your Best Morning Routine

30 Practical Ideas to Create Your Best Morning Routine

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

This wise reflection by the American author Annie Dillard from her book The Writing Life is perhaps my most favourite (and most eloquently expressed) advice on life, motivation, being present in one’s own life and on success, that I have come across during my self-enhancement journey.

It is true—how we choreograph our days says a lot about the people we are and strive to become.

We can take this thought a bit further too:

How we spend our mornings is how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

Agreed— life plays out differently for everyone and we all follow our own trajectories, have our own interests, preferences, personalities and circumstances. But there is barely anyone out there—from scientists to celebrities to personal coaches—who will ever tell you that what you do every morning is unrelated to the things you aspire as success, fulfilment, health and wellbeing.

It all matters, of course. So much, indeed, that to be able to get better at our lives, we have to first get better at how we spend the precious personal time we have at the start of each day, before we submerge ourselves in our hectic, often frustrating and highly- demanding everydays.

Here are some 30 practical ideas about how to charge your mornings with more positivity and excitement about what lies ahead in the day.

1. Do Not Wake up Earlier

In a wonderful post for Thrive Global,[1] Arianna Huffington talks about the recent obsession of the self-help industry with morning routines and how it’s gone a bit too far.

She makes an excellent point regarding giving our minds and bodies a chance to rest and recoup.

“Getting up at 4:30 or 5:30 or 6:30 a.m., without getting enough sleep, simply means that your body will automatically crave carbs and sugars during the day — and that you’ll be less productive and experience less joy throughout your day.”

Point taken.

2. Take Few Deep Breaths

Diaphragmic or belly breathing is a widely recognized relaxation and meditation technique.[2] It also strengthens the brain and improves attention span, according to science.[3]

So, go ahead, breathe stress away.

3. Say Your Thanks

Gratitude hardly needs further introduction. It’s been a well-established fact that it helps our mental and physical health.[4]

The most important thing it does is to help you focus on and appreciate what you have, on abundance, not on scarcity.

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In fact, there’re a lot you can be thankful for: 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life

4. Reflect on the Day Ahead

Think about what you need to do today and plan how you are going to approach your to-do-list.

Reflection is important for other reasons too—it improves self-awareness provides perspective, allows you to respond, not react.

Regular practice will make you happier and more successful, we are told.

5. Visualize

Linked to the above, this is another helpful tool for thriving and prosperity—the practice has been popular among many accomplished individuals, from celebrities to entrepreneurs.

It’s simple enough—see yourself as the person you want to become and, over time, your behavior will adjust to bring you closer to this image.

Here’s How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

6. Impression Management

Spend a minute in the morning looking at the mirror. Do you see someone confident, happy, content?

Practice different posture, face expressions, gestures. What we say with our body language is more important than our words. Make it count.

7. Smile at Yourself in the Mirror

According to Darwin’s facial feedback hypothesis,[5]

“the free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it.”

What this simply means is that smiling can make you happy. Do it more often.

8. Do the Power Pose

Amy Cuddy’s ground-breaking idea has been favored by many as a way to boost courage, confidence and well-being.

Two minutes a day is all we need, she advises. Easy enough.

9. Stretch

It’s a great way to wake up your body and mind, to feel more refreshed and ready to face the day. Here are some helpful ideas for your morning exercise.

10. Drink Some Warm Water With Lemon

Lemon water will not only give you a boost of Vitamin C. It’s much more than that.

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It helps regulate weight, cleanse your body and improve digestion. It energizes you, especially if you are a morning-challenged individual.

11. Do or Think of Something That Makes You Happy

It may be as simple as having a good cup of coffee or tea. Or more advanced as purposely bringing to mind a funny or joyful memory. It’s an instant mood-changer.

12. Make a Healthy Breakfast

I don’t need to convince you in the advantages of having a balanced diet—and this starts from the mornings.

Respect your body, care for it, and it will be good to you too.

Check out these 31 Healthy Breakfast Recipes That Will Super Boost Your Energy.

13. Prime Yourself With Some Good Music

Research tells us that listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory.[6]

Choose something energetic in the morning that will lift you up and put you in a The-World-is-Mine mode. Some ideas for you: 30 Inspirational Songs that Keep You Motivated for Life

14. On the Way to Work, Listen to a Podcast

This is another priming technique to help you motivate yourself.

My favourite ones are The Tim Ferris Show, Happier by Gretchen Ruben and The Savvy Psychologist by Ellen Hendriksen.

Check out these 15 Really Good Podcasts to Keep You Motivated and Reach Your Goals.

15. Finish Your Morning Shower on the Cold Side

Nothing like a cold shower to become immediately awake and alert. But it gets better — it also boost s your mood, improves your immune system, enhances emotional resilience.[7]

It’s worth the pain, for sure.

16. No Emails Screening Until You Get to Work

The morning belongs to you and your wellness. Don’t overload your mind right away, give yourself some Me-time.

Your emails are not going anywhere, trust me. They will be patiently waiting for you at the office.

And if we are to believe the media, many successful leaders embrace the ‘no-email’ rule in the mornings, so seems to be the right move.

17. Take a Minute to Marvel at Something

It may be the sunrise, blooming flowers or birds chirping, the light reflecting in a window, or the colours of the season. Whatever it is, use the power of Awe[8] –it’s one of the greatest mood and motivational boosters.

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18. Think of 3 Things That You Will Do Today, and Make Sure You Do Them

Following through and successfully completing tasks creates a success track record, which in turn lifts your self-assurance and general wellbeing.

19. Give Your Loved Ones a Hug

Hugging, research tells us, is a great way to boost your immune system, heart health, can make you happier, fearless and boost your self-esteem.[9] The simple act can serve as a powerful morning uplift.

Take a look at the 7 Ways Hugging Makes You Healthier and Happier.

20. Think of a One-Word Description

It’s a lovely idea:[10]

“In only one word, think about or write down how you feel about the day ahead, where you are in your life right now, or what you need to hear. Put that word somewhere where it’ll be visible during the day.”

21. Fire up Your Brain

Do a crossword to alleviate your anticipatory anxiety of what lies in the day ahead. It will also help sharpen the brain cells and get you into a thinking state of mind.[11]

22. Make Your Bed

This simple enough task can serve as a powerful spark of your energy and productivity.[12]

It’s not the chore itself that will make you get more done at work, but creating the habit, which can lead to more good habits, leading to a better overall efficiency.

23. Think of One Thing You Could Do Today If You Were Not Afraid (And Do It)

To paraphrase the famous moto, which is favoured by Sheryl Sandberg, fear often stops us from going after what we want.

Challenging yourself daily can help you build up the courage to become who you want to be.

24. Eat a Live Frog

First thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.[13]

The famed technique developed by the author and speaker Brian Tracy simply means “Do your biggest tasks first.” When you start with a big item (a project/frog), the rest of your day looks pretty great by comparison.

25. Dress Simply

Many famous leaders have spoken in favor of wearing the same or similar variations of clothes every day. Remember Steve Job’s famous black turtlenecks? Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg are fans too.

Simplifying your wardrobe saves time and can free up some mental energy.[14]

So, choose elegant and clean lines for your clothes. There are better ways to get noticed than wearing ten blingy bracelets on one hand. Really!

26. Think about Failure

At first thought, this may not be the best way to charge with energy and positivity in the morning. But again, it’s about facing your fears, accepting that not every endeavour has a happy ending,[15] and that is perfectly okay: 6 Reasons It’s Okay To Fail

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Imagining failing is a great way to come up with a remedial plan too and strengthen your mind.

27. Walk Your Dog or Just Go for a Walk

Walking in nature changes your brains, says research. A wonderful piece in the New York Times explains that a visit to a green space helps quiet your mind, quells anxiety and promotes mental health.[16] We certainly have a winner here.

28. Read

It may be on your commute to work or by dedicating some time before your leave your house but, reading the news or a self-enhancement book will help you build knowledge and expand your horizons.

Take it from the Greats. Warren Buffet, for instance, spends 80% of his time during the day reading.[17]

While not everyone has this luxury of time, even 10-15 minutes in the morning can still be beneficial.

29. Meditate

Meditation has so many benefits, so it is truly a no-brainer that it should be part of our morning routines.

I know, it’s lack of time again that often gets in the way of best intentions. But here is the thing—you don’t need to do it at home, in a separate room, listening to the sounds-of-the-sea music. I usually do it on the bus to work.

With practice, you can learn to shut out the world around you.

Take a look at this guide for meditation: The 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime

30. Think of One Good Deed That You Can Do Today

Give some money to a homeless person, help a co-worker, volunteer. Whatever it is, it’s important that we are not only grateful for what we have going in our own lives, but give back too, help others.

Every little thing counts.

Summing It All Up

Often, our days are busy and hectic and may turn out completely different than the paths we’ve mapped out.

But nevertheless, it’s important that we do have a plan on how we want to spend our waking hours, and our lives respectively. After all, no one wants to live in a hamster wheel, endlessly spinning without direction, am I right?

Building a purpose starts with a quiet mind and a healthy body. And a good discipline starts from our morning routines.

To be able to thrive in our intense world and to face each day with the best we’ve got, we must first learn to properly care for ourselves.

Arianna Huffington’s favourite quote sums it up beautifully:

“People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.”

More About Morning Routines

Featured photo credit: Julia Caesar via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Evelyn Marinoff

A wellness advocate who writes about the psychology behind confidence, happiness and well-being.

How to Have Self-Control and Be the Master of Your Life What’s the Meaning of Life? A Guide to Live with Meaning What Is an Existential Crisis and How to Cope with It What Is External Motivation And How to Make Good Use of It? Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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