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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.

Why Intrinsic Motivation Is So Powerful (And How to Find It) What Is an Existential Crisis? (And How to Cope With It) happiness and self confidence Why Confident People Are Also Happier People How to Have Self-Control and Be the Master of Your Life What’s the Meaning of Life? A Guide to Live with Meaning

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Last Updated on September 30, 2020

Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

Effective vs Efficient: What’s the Difference Regarding Productivity?

When it comes to being effective vs efficient, there are a lot of similarities, and because of this, they’re often misused and misinterpreted, both in daily use and application.

Every business should look for new ways to improve employee effectiveness and efficiency to save time and energy in the long term. Just because a company or employee has one, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the other is equally present.

Utilizing both an effective and efficient methodology in nearly any capacity of work and life will yield high levels of productivity, while a lack of it will lead to a lack of positive results.

Before we discuss the various nuances between the word effective and efficient and how they factor into productivity, let’s break things down with a definition of their terms.

Effective vs Efficient

Effective is defined as “producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect.” Meanwhile, the word “efficient ” is defined as “capable of producing desired results with little or no waste (as of time or materials).”[1]

A rather simple way of explaining the differences between the two would be to consider a light bulb. Say that your porch light burned out and you decided that you wanted to replace the incandescent light bulb outside with an LED one. Either light bulb would be effective in accomplishing the goal of providing you with light at night, but the LED one would use less energy and therefore be the more efficient choice.

Now, if you incorrectly set a timer for the light, and it was turned on throughout the entire day, then you would be wasting energy. While the bulb is still performing the task of creating light in an efficient manner, it’s on during the wrong time of day and therefore not effective.

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The effective way is focused on accomplishing the goal, while the efficient method is focused on the best way of accomplishing the goal.

Whether we’re talking about a method, employee, or business, the subject in question can be either effective or efficient, or, in rare instances, they can be both.

When it comes to effective vs efficient, the goal of achieving maximum productivity is going to be a combination where the subject is effective and as efficient as possible in doing so.

Effectiveness in Success and Productivity

Being effective vs efficient is all about doing something that brings about the desired intent or effect[2]. If a pest control company is hired to rid a building’s infestation, and they employ “method A” and successfully completed the job, they’ve been effective at achieving the task.

The task was performed correctly, to the extent that the pest control company did what they were hired to do. As for how efficient “method A” was in completing the task, that’s another story.

If the pest control company took longer than expected to complete the job and used more resources than needed, then their efficiency in completing the task wasn’t particularly good. The client may feel that even though the job was completed, the value in the service wasn’t up to par.

When assessing the effectiveness of any business strategy, it’s wise to ask certain questions before moving forward:

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  • Has a target solution to the problem been identified?
  • What is the ideal response time for achieving the goal?
  • Does the cost balance out with the benefit?

Looking at these questions, a leader should ask to what extent a method, tool, or resource meets the above criteria and achieve the desired effect. If the subject in question doesn’t hit any of these marks, then productivity will likely suffer.

Efficiency in Success and Productivity

Efficiency is going to account for the resources and materials used in relation to the value of achieving the desired effect. Money, people, inventory, and (perhaps most importantly) time, all factor into the equation.

When it comes to being effective vs efficient, efficiency can be measured in numerous ways[3]. In general, the business that uses fewer materials or that is able to save time is going to be more efficient and have an advantage over the competition. This is assuming that they’re also effective, of course.

Consider a sales team for example. Let’s say that a company’s sales team is tasked with making 100 calls a week and that the members of that team are hitting their goal each week without any struggle.

The members on the sales team are effective in hitting their goal. However, the question of efficiency comes into play when management looks at how many of those calls turn into solid connections and closed deals.

If less than 10 percent of those calls generate a connection, the productivity is relatively low because the efficiency is not adequately balancing out with the effect. Management can either keep the same strategy or take a new approach.

Perhaps they break up their sales team with certain members handling different parts of the sales process, or they explore a better way of connecting with their customers through a communications company.

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The goal is ultimately going to be finding the right balance, where they’re being efficient with the resources they have to maximize their sales goals without stretching themselves too thin. Finding this balance is often easier said than done, but it’s incredibly important for any business that is going to thrive.

Combining Efficiency and Effectiveness to Maximize Productivity

Being effective vs efficient works best if both are pulled together for the best results.

If a business is ineffective in accomplishing its overall goal, and the customer doesn’t feel that the service is equated with the cost, then efficiency becomes largely irrelevant. The business may be speedy and use minimal resources, but they struggle to be effective. This may put them at risk of going under.

It’s for this reason that it’s best to shoot for being effective first, and then work on bringing efficiency into practice.

Improving productivity starts with taking the initiative to look at how effective a company, employee, or method is through performance reviews. Leaders should make a point to regularly examine performance at all levels on a whole, and take into account the results that are being generated.

Businesses and employees often succumb to inefficiency because they don’t look for a better way, or they lack the proper tools to be effective in the most efficient manner possible.

Similar to improving a manager or employee’s level of effectiveness, regularly measuring the resources needed to obtain the desired effect will ensure that efficiency is being accounted for. This involves everything from keeping track of inventory and expenses, to how communication is handled within an organization.

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By putting in place a baseline value for key metrics and checking them once changes have been made, a company will have a much better idea of the results they’re generating.

It’s no doubt a step-by-step process. By making concentrated efforts, weakness can be identified and rectified sooner rather than later when the damage is already done.

Bottom Line

Understanding the differences between being effective vs efficient is key when it comes to maximizing productivity. It’s simply working smart so that the intended results are achieved in the best way possible. Finding the optimal balance should be the ultimate goal for employees and businesses:

  • Take the steps that result in meeting the solution.
  • Review the process and figure out how to do it better.
  • Repeat the process with what has been learned in a more efficient manner.

And just like that, effective and efficient productivity is maximized.

More on How to Improve Productivity

Featured photo credit: Tim van der Kuip via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: effective and efficient
[2] Mind Tools: Being Effective at Work
[3] Inc.: 8 Things Really Efficient People Do

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