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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 September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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