How you start your day can either set you up for a day of kicking butt or leave you staring at the wall feeling lost and overwhelmed. Here are some times that I utilize to help prepare myself for being the best, most productive version of myself each day.
Start The Night Before
Before you go to bed, check or start a task list for the following day. Already having a plan in place when you wake up in the morning will make it easier to know where to focus your efforts for the day. Being consistent with how you schedule yourself can also make an impact. Do you use a paper planner, digital calendar, or whatever scrap piece of paper seems to be floating around at the time? Keep your tasks, timelines, and deadlines all in one place so you can easily locate them when needed.
Be sure to include even small tasks on your list, such as sending an email or making a quick phone call. Seeing a completed task on your list will help you feel like you’ve gotten more done and can battle those counterproductive feelings of worthlessness.
Make Your Bed
If you know that no one except you and/or the people who live with you are going to see your messy bed until you go to sleep that night, it’s easy to think that making your bed is a waste of time. But taking that extra 2 minutes to straighten your covers and give your pillows a fluff can have surprising effects on your attitude for the rest of the day. Making your bed instantly starts your day off with the completion of a productive task, boosting your morning with a small sense of pride and accomplishment. If bed-making becomes a habit, it can set off a chain of good decisions and productivity for the rest of your day, especially if you wake up feeling not-so-motivated. Completing this simple task can plant a seed of encouragement of, “Hey, if I can do this one thing even though I’m feeling down, then I can try to do the next thing…” and so on. Yet another benefit of a tidy bed is that it just plain makes you feel better about life. Think about how you feel when you walk into a fresh hotel room and see the crisp well-made bed in front of you. Everything seems peaceful and in order in that moment, right? By making your bed, you can leave your bedroom in the morning with a sense of peace of a slightly-more-tidy room, and then you’ll have those smooth sheets waiting to greet you when you’re ready to end your day that night.
So… get yourself up and make that damn bed.
Exercise… Or At Least Move Around A Bit
Whether you stretch while watching the morning news, do some resistance moves with dumbbells or your own body weight, or – if you have time – go for a brisk walk or jog, moving your body will assist in waking you up. I’ve heard many times, “I’m not a morning person, so there’s no way I can exercise in the morning.” But statements like that describe exactly the person who should try morning exercise as a way of pushing through that leftover sleep fog and getting your brain revved up to kick some butt for the rest of the day.
Remember, you don’t have to be a marathon runner or a bodybuilder. I’m not talking about all-out workouts here if that’s not your thing… just move your body a bit, get the heart rate up a little bit, and you’ll feel better about your whole day, I promise.
Get Clean and Get Dressed
Though I love taking night showers, a quick hot shower first thing in the morning does amazing things for how I feel in my own skin. I feel clean, fresh, and ready to tackle my day from the get-go, whereas showering the night before and waking up the next morning with my eyes crusted with sleep makes me less motivated to get out of my pajamas and more likely to lounge around longer than I should before tackling my task list.
Extra tip: Make sure you’re in view of a clock while in the shower so you can keep track of how long you’re in there. Try to keep it at 5-10 minutes, max.
When getting dressed, choose clothing that fits well, is comfortable, and makes you feel good about yourself. Dress for success, don’t dress to impress. Forget ill-fitting clothing or things that make you feel bad about yourself or your body. How you feel about yourself has a close connection with how you will behave for the rest of your day, so be kind to yourself and dress in items that make you feel comfortable and fabulous. Even if your job has a dress code, invest in some work-appropriate clothes that make you feel like a million bucks (but remember, they don’t have to cost a million bucks!).
Eat A Live Frog
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain
This well-known quote refers to the idea that if you tackle your most difficult, and/or unpleasant task first thing in the morning, then you know that the worst is behind you and working on the easier items on your list will seem simpler by comparison. Also, completing or making progress on a frustrating project can give you a massive surge of accomplishment and motivation for knocking out a few smaller things, making you feel like a rock star by the end of the day.
While you may feel as though you operate best while multi-tasking, studies have shown that you are not operating at your most efficient or productive level when switching back and forth between many things at once. It’s harder to re-focus your brain when jumping topics and you’ll lose time by needing to re-orient yourself each time you start working on something different. Focus on one item at a time to maximize your achievements for the day.
Get Enough Sleep For *You*
There’s tons of information around regarding the right number of hours of sleep that the average adult should be getting per night, but I happen to believe that the ideal amount of sleep is individual to each person. Both too little and too much sleep has equal negative effects on my daytime performance. Do some experimenting and find out the amount of sleep that makes you feel your best when you wake up in the morning, and then try to get as close to that same amount each night. Easier said than done with young children, work deadlines, etc. Trust me, I get it. But try to be mindful of your rest and do your best to prioritize your time in bed.
What are some things you do in the morning to kickstart your day?