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7 Morning Hacks to Jumpstart Your Day

7 Morning Hacks to Jumpstart Your Day
    Photo credit: Roberto Bouza (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m really not a morning person.

    I’ve tried to get myself going in the early hours of the morning, but I’ve always been more of a night owl – my creative juices seem to flow better in the later hours. So I’d be the last person to suggest that you need to force yourself out of bed before your body and mind are really ready to do so.

    But when you do get up, you may find that you’re pressed for time and have fallen behind the rest of the crowd in what you need to get done during the day. A slow start to your day won’t help anyone, let alone you.

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    Just because you’re not up as the sun rises doesn’t mean that you can’t put yourself in a position to make sure that the day ahead will be a productive one. You need to put some things into play so that you can make the most of your waking hours.

    On that note, here are 10 “morning hacks” to jumpstart your day:

    1. Wash your face right after getting up.

    Rather than make your way to the kitchen for that cup of coffee, head to the bathroom and splash some cold water on your face. Once the alarm goes off, head out of bed and straight to the sink. The refreshing feeling you’ll get from the water hitting your face will act as a trigger that it’s time for your body to get moving. Think of it as having a pail of water thrown on you while you’re still in bed – but with a little less wetness and cleanup required.

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    2. Program your coffeemaker in advance.

    This one may not sit well with the coffee connoisseurs out there, but the smell of fresh brewed coffee sends a signal to your brain that says, “It’s time to get up”. If you’ve got a coffeemaker with pre-programming features then you’re all set. Just set it to start each day at the time you know you’ll want to get up (remember that you don’t have to get up earlier, be reasonable with your demands on yourself), prepare it the night before, and you’ll be good to go when morning comes.

    3. Put your alarm clock out of reach.

    I keep my alarm clock across the room so that I have to actually get out of bed to turn it off. It’s also close enough to my bedroom door so that I can head straight to the bathroom to give myself my morning splash. I also use an alarm clock app on my iPhone that takes some effort to shut off (such as Mission Alarm Clock; there’s also Challenging Alarm Clock for Android users), meaning I actually have to be awake in order to stop it from going off.

    Oh, and by using my iPhone I’ve got an alarm clock that is great for travel and I’m less likely to abuse the device – it is a pretty expensive alarm clock, after all.

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    4. Go outside.

    I step outside with my coffee and sit on my deck whenever the weather permits. It connects me with the outside world right off the bat and puts me in a place where I’m not jumping online right away. I’m enjoying the day as it arrives (for me, anyway) and sipping a fine cup of joe while doing so. Fresh air is good at any time of day, and getting it early on is never a bad thing.

    5. Plan your day the night before.

    Despite being done at night — the night before — this is most certainly a morning hack. I give my task manager a good review before hitting the sack for the night. Because my late-night habits often put me at performance par with those who get up a couple of hours before I do, I’m rarely behind in my productivity. The key is to “time shift” so that you’re ahead of the early risers the night before. By planning your day in advance (and even doing some of the tasks the night before), you can go to bed at ease.

    6. Mix it up.

    I do the things above as part of my wake-up routine, mixing it up from time to time but never straying from these things. For example, I like to make freshly-ground coffee, so I do that instead of pre-programming it for myself. But I prepare my wife’s coffee for her the night before and still get the benefits of the aroma in the morning. I don’t go outside every day – sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate – but I definitely look outside every day when I get up. I’ve positioned my sitting chair in my bedroom in such a way that I can enjoy my coffee while looking out the sliding glass doors every morning. A routine is beneficial, but don’t make it essential. You need to have some flexibility built in, otherwise when things you can’t control cause your routine to go off the rails you’ll be more inclined to start sluggishly.

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    7. Recognize your best workflow patterns.

    It’s a commonly held belief by those who dwell in the productivity realm that email shouldn’t be the first thing you bury yourself in when you start your day. I agree, but if you’re having trouble jumpstarting your day you need to figure out if that’s why or if it’s something else that needs to be adjusted. Perhaps by setting yourself up the night before, you feel that email can be your first target. Go with that until it doesn’t work for you. Maybe, like me, the first thing you check is your RSS feeds so that you can have something to spark your day. It could be that you want to dive right into the heavy stuff while your energy is high. Take the time to really reflect on your workflow practices and patterns and honestly ask yourself what isn’t working and what is. Leave the stuff that is alone, monitor the stuff that sits somewhere in between until you see how it reacts to the changes that you must make to the stuff that isn’t working. Wholesale changes rarely lead to results; you often abandon the changes altogether when you try that. Tweaks, however, can lead to results because they’re not as painful to adopt. So rather than going ahead and “changing”, try “tweaking” instead.

    What tips do you use to jumpstart your day? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

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    Mike Vardy

    A productivity specialist who shows you how to define your day, funnel your focus, and make every moment matter.

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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