Unless you're a morning person who gets enough rest, it isn't natural to jump out of bed firing on all cylinders. Yet research shows that, in the morning hours, our minds are most primed for productivity — whether at home, at the office, or at the home office.
With my schedule changing soon, I find the need to be more productive in the morning. And, as the summer days lengthen, there's more incentive to maximize the morning so I can enjoy the gorgeous evenings without thinking about work. If, like me, you need some fast and easy tips for better mornings, then start with these.
1. Jump Start Your Body The Healthy Way
The way we feel physically directly plays into our mental focus and ability to knock out items on our to-do list. Start treating your body right as soon as you get up, and you'll start feeling more motivated, alert, and focused.
Get up with the sun. Not only will you get more done by starting the day earlier, but you'll also take advantage of the way sunlight cues the body to be alert and productive.
Drink some water. Few of us drink as much water as we need every day. A glass of cold water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice will wake you up even faster than a cup of coffee, get your digestion and metabolism off to a good start, and boost your immune system with vitamins.
Exercise and eat a healthy breakfast. I always feel more energetic and motivated when I get in a workout first thing in the morning. Even if your fitness level or schedule only leave enough time for simple stretches or light cardio, any exercise can make a huge impact on your morning — and so does what you choose to eat (or not eat) for breakfast. Sugary pastries or cereals may give you a burst of energy, but it's always followed by a crash. Instead, eat something with a balance of protein, healthy fats, and slow-burning carbohydrates that will delivery steady fuel all morning long.
2. Jump-Start Your To-Do List, Start with the Biggest Task, and Schedule Everything
Easing into the day feels wonderful when you're relaxing, but it's not a tip for boosting productivity when you're on the clock (especially for those of us who set our own clocks).
Make a to-do list the day before so you can jump on it right away, then add on and adjust it as you communicate with your spouse, boss, or kids. The more specific your agenda, the better the results will be. And remember to set time frames. If you know you have all day to do something, it's easier to keep putting it off than if it's scheduled between, say, 10 and 11 a.m.
It's tempting to ease into a to-do list by starting with the small things, but this approach will leave the biggest tasks for later in the day, when focus dips and co-workers, bosses, or your children are more likely to bombard you with last-minute tasks and distractions. Make the most of your mind's sharpest hours by starting with the biggest thing on your list, in order of importance, and moving on from there.
3. Minimize Distractions
The more you can devote your undivided attention to a task, the faster you'll get it done — and mornings tend to be most free of distractions. It's quiet; others are still sleeping or busy doing their own thing; and it's too early for a crisis. Sneaky distractions can still rob you of these peak productive hours, though. For most of us, the chief source of distraction is our mobile device. Turn off notifications during working hours if you're easily side-tracked by app notifications, messages, and emails. If you work at home, designate a quiet, distraction-free work space, and honor its purpose.
4. Don't Let a Bad Start Derail the Rest of the Day
I'm an easily-discouraged perfectionist. As soon as I realize I'm running late, not finding my stride, or no longer likely to hit a self-imposed deadline, I'm tempted to write off the rest of the day. Does this sound familiar to anyone? We can't let this tendency beat us. One less-than-productive hour doesn't have to make or break the rest of the morning. Let's get back on track, adjust our goals to reflect what's realistic, and surprise our inner skeptic with how much we can still accomplish.
Written by Jessica Sommerfield for MoneyNing and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.