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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) How to Define Your Personal Values and Live By Them for a Fulfilling Life How to Get Unstuck in Life and Live a More Fulfilling Life How to Stop Struggling with Instant Gratification and Reach Your Goals What Is External Motivation And How to Make Good Use of It?

Trending in Productivity

1 We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why? 2 13 Bad Habits You Need to Quit Right Away 3 How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits 4 14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress 5 11 Things You Can Do to Increase Employee Productivity

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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