How you spend your morning matters. It sets the tone for your day and determines how effective the rest of your day will be. Yet many of us wake up at the very last minute, rushing from one thing to the next until we collapse at our desk an hour later.
Many people start their workday this way. As a result, their productivity is off to a poor start, and without discipline it will most likely continue that way throughout the day.
If you’re tired of groggy mornings and poor productivity, there are 6 practices you should do every morning before you get to work.
1. Wake up at the same time
Research continually shows waking up at the same time (even on weekends) has tremendous benefits to your health and wellness. Our bodies run on a circadian rhythm, so the more regular our sleep patterns are, the better we feel. Everyone likes to go into a situation knowing what to expect; our bodies are the same way.
Admittedly, I’m not great at this, but I’m working on it. Waking up at 5:30 every morning (I have 3 small kids, not a lot of quiet times available) is one of the several things I’m actively working on improving. When I get up on time, my morning is more relaxed, I feel better, and I’m calmer when my kids wake up.
Doing this means you’ll need to set an alarm, or perhaps several. One way to ensure you get up that’s miserable to employ is to put your alarm or phone across the room so you have to get out of bed when it goes off. Simply getting out of bed makes the process much, much easier.
2. Spend time in silence and solitude
Nothing helps me start the day more focused and relaxed than spending time in silence and solitude. For me this means sitting on the same couch with the same pillows and doing the same thing – reading the Bible, reflecting, and praying. If those things don’t happen, I start the day on edge. But when they do happen, I’m almost always calm, prepared, and more joyful.
The research on this is hard to ignore. Engaging in regular silence and solitude helps you avoid burnout, increases your sensitivity to your own thoughts as well as others’, improves memory, strengthens attention, and on and on it goes. Noise surrounds us every minute of every day. The only way to stay healthy in the midst of the chaos is to shut out everything and see what you’re actually thinking – not what someone else is telling you to think about.
As someone who practices the way of Jesus, it’s where I spend time in his presence. It’s where I’m reminded that I’ve been rescued, redeemed, and adopted into God’s family. It’s where I’m reminded that as part of that family I’m called to go and love others and tell them what that’s like.
Don’t hand your morning over to Mark Zuckerburg. Shut everything out and just be still. You may be surprised what you hear.
3. Eat a powerful breakfast
Donuts are my favorite breakfast food, but they aren’t exactly a powerful breakfast. They’re fluff – they fill you up one minute and they’re gone within an hour. Eating a powerful breakfast, on the other hand, can increase your metabolism, help make your more active, and give you a mental edge.
Protein is an important part of that power. This is why people have been eating eggs for breakfast for so long – they’re rich in protein, which is good for you and me. That’s because, according to Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois, “Protein has greater satiety than either carbohydrates or fat, making people feel fuller and more satisfied for a longer period of time.” And the fuller we feel, the less we eat.
If you wake up on time, you’ll have plenty of time to make yourself a powerful breakfast.
4. Check your social media
How many personal things do you take care of as soon as you get to work? Are you checking Twitter, scanning Facebook, or browsing the myriad of newsletters you need to unsubscribe from? How about clicking over to ESPN to check the scores and headlines?
When we make the most of our mornings, we’re most productive in the hours before lunch. Wasting those hours on unproductive tasks will come back to bite you at 2:30 in the afternoon when the coffee is wearing off and you still haven’t tackled your main to-do’s.
If you give yourself ample time in the morning, you’ll have enough time to scan Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, newsletters, and anything else you like to keep up with. Checking these things at home is also far more honoring to your employer.
5. Review your calendar
Most people spend their days, productive people invest their days. When you just walk into the office and wonder what’s happening today, you’re already off to a weaker start than you could be. By simply opening up the calendar app on your phone or pulling out your day timer (they still have those, right?) you can orient yourself to what the day will bring, and plan accordingly.
When you review your calendar before you get to the office, your mind starts to prepare itself for tougher parts of the day and you can relax a bit by knowing what to expect. The best practice would actually be to make a to-do list the night before and then review your schedule and list in the morning before work.
6. Tell someone you love them
There’s great wisdom in knowing how brief life is. Life is precious, and you’re not guaranteed tomorrow or the next hour. The same goes for your loved ones.
So start the day by telling those close to you how much you love them. Don’t let their significance stay hidden. Saying “I love you” changes them as well as you.
When all is said and done, our lives are measured by who we love and leave behind. Don’t leave for work before wrapping up your spouse, your kids, or your parents and telling them how much they mean to you.