“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, we all start our day at some point. And we all seem to start it differently.
Some of us hop online to check social media, others dive in to email, still others eat breakfast, exercise, or pack lunches for the kids. There’re a million different ways a morning could go.
Which morning routine might be best?
While there’s probably not an ideal morning routine that fits everyone, we can learn a lot from the morning routines of successful people as well as from the research and inspiration behind starting a morning on the right foot.
1. Wake up early
…why, you ask?
SCIENCE SAYS: WILLPOWER IS HIGHEST IN THE MORNING, SO START STRONG
You’ve maybe heard the advice that your first work of the day should be something meaningful and significant, a task that might take a lot of focus, will, and determination to accomplish. The reason: We’re limited with our self-control.
That’s the idea purported by the strength model. Self-control draws from a common resource that gets depleted over time. You can think of self-control as a muscle—fatigue sets in after exertion.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham and the National Institute of Education in Singapore reviewed 83 studies on self-control to come to the following conclusion:
Results revealed a significant effect of ego depletion on self-control task performance. Significant effect sizes were found for ego depletion on effort, perceived difficulty, negative affect, subjective fatigue, and blood glucose levels.
For those scoring at home, that’s both a psychological and physiological effect on your ability to get work done.
The longer the day goes on, the more fatigue your self-control experiences, the more important it is to make those early morning hours count.
Waking up early offers you opportunities that few get to enjoy – watch the sun rise, hear the sound of birds chirping, and just be still. We are always on the move. Sit and enjoy the morning calm. It’s a brief time where you can be alone with your thoughts. Just breathe.
Early hours foster reflection. Enjoy the quiet and take some time to map out your day. Think through your goals and to-dos. Take whatever notes you need to ensure your day will be calmer and more efficient. Research has shown that even two minutes of visualization and positive thinking can improve your mood and clarity for the entire day ahead.
4. Make a list of tasks to be accomplished
From research and meta-analyses to Mark Twain, the advice is the same: Get big work done early.
Twain’s advice stems from this famous quote of his:
Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.
We’ve co-opted Twain’s saying to mean, “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.
5. Motivational Mantra
Step One – Dig deep and find out what inspires you.
Step Two – Create a mantra.
Step Three – Repeat that same saying to yourself every morning.
Step Four – Breathe and relax. You will feel more motivated and focused than ever before.
6. Get Moving
Morning workouts not only give you a boost of energy, they pump you up, ensuring your senses are up and running. You’ll feel ready to tackle any problem that comes your way. Studies have shown that people are less likely to come up with excuses early in the morning. So with fewer interruptions, you now have no excuse not to set your alarm 15 minutes early and sneak in a quick jog or a 5 minute workout.
7. Pack Snacks!
Eating fuels your brain, improving focus, productivity and memory. Plan your snacks ahead of time and drop some bars into your bag. I opt for a protein-filled KIND Bar which is completely natural and prevents my blood sugar from dropping. Smart snacking is critical for keeping your metabolism going and your brain working at full capacity through your busy day.
8. Toss It!
Learn to let go of the things that are cluttering your life. It’s one thing to try to clear your mind, but sometimes you have to physically toss something to feel lighter. So get rid of something – old magazines, junk mail, apps on your phone, old receipts or papers and watch how your attitude changes throughout the day. Our lives get cluttered so easily, but they can become uncluttered just as fast. Remember that.
“Evening question: What good have I done today?”
– Benjamin Franklin
At least once a day, and more often several times a day, make it a habit to reflect on your day, on your life, on what you’ve been doing right, and what isn’t working. It’s essential to reflect on every aspect of life, and from this habit of reflection, you’re able to continuously improve.
Often we are caught up in the troubles or busy-ness of our daily lives. A mistake or a high-pressure project or something like that can seem like it means all the world. It can overwhelm us sometimes. But if we take a minute to step back, and reflect on these problems, and how in the grand scheme of things they don’t mean all that much, it can calm us down and lower our stress levels. We gain perspective, and that’s a good thing.
10. Go To Bed Early
If you want to watch one more episode on Netflix think again. Getting the proper amount of sleep is critical to not only your mental health and creativity but to weight control. When your biorhythms are off it wreaks havoc on your entire system. Getting the proper sleep your body needs sets you up for success in everything else you want to achieve. So rest up, you have much to accomplish tomorrow!