Mornings are your most productive time of the day. Your willpower is the strongest, your cognitive abilities are at their peak, and your daily mindset is molded. There's so much at stake.
Research has proven just how important mornings are to our well-being, and how we choose to spend our mornings, our routines, directly relate to our ability to remain motivated and healthy.
And one of the best parts of a morning routine, a habit, is that they allow you to complete the tasks you want and set out to do, without even thinking about them. Automatic productivity and motivation in a nutshell. Routines also give you something stable in your life, a sense of normalcy that's especially helpful as your life changes.
As you pick up momentum, it will only get better. Producing positive actions picks up speed, and as you begin seeing positive reactions in your life, you'll add in more and more small wins.
Whether you already have a morning routine or not, you can always better your life. Life is growing, and learning should never end.
But how do you know what you should change? Look at your life, and use this as a guide to understanding your priorities, how you can be better, where your faults lie, and how to strengthen yourself and your world.
If the first step is realizing you have a problem, this is your cheat sheet to figuring out how to fix your life and conquer your faults, all with the help of a morning routine.
You need a new morning routine if:
- you need to get more done each day and enhance your productivity
Try this: Turn off your phone notifications for an hour. Use this hour in the morning (or however long you need) as a "power hour" to get stuff done. No, no, not the drinking game. A Productivity Power Hour is a way to cut distractions and accomplish your most important tasks.
- you struggle with depression or anxiety and want to live happier
Try this: Exercise or read for 10-30 minutes each day. Research has shown that regular exercise improves your mental health and mood while reading reduces stress and anxiety.
- you feel like you never have enough 'you' time.
Try this: Wake an hour earlier. Use this extra hour to mold your morning around what you like to do. Get up before your spouse and the kids, and do something you enjoy to do alone. Go for a walk, read a book, listen to a podcast, drink your coffee, paint or draw, whatever you enjoy.
- you stay up all night and rush to work in the morning
Try this: Wake earlier. Unfortunately, the only way to reduce the amount of morning stress is to ensure you have enough time in the morning for your needs. Rushing out of the house only makes you feel flustered and overwhelmed, which can carry on all day. Try to sleep and wake earlier to allow yourself the time you need.
- you feel bogged down by all the decisions you have to make in a day
Try this: Uncomplicate your life by using less brain power on things that don't matter, like your outfit. Mark Zuckerberg is known to wear a uniform he created for himself to reduce the number of decisions he has to make in the morning, which allows him to focus his decision-making skills on more important matters later in the day.
- you have high stress levels and perhaps a highly stressful job
Try this: Journaling is known to reduce stress, as "writing about what you are feeling and what problems you are encountering will reduce how much they negatively affect you". Many people choose to keep a gratitude or affirmation journal to keep their mindset positive. Affirmations have also been shown to reduce the cortisol response (a stress hormone) and self-reported stress.
- you struggle to reach your goals or stay on track
Try this: Complete your dreaded tasks first thing in the morning. The more you dread a task, for whatever reason, the more you will put off doing it. By getting it out of the way first, you can enjoy the rest of your day knowing it's over.
- you want to create a healthier lifestyle and live longer
Try this: Exercise 30 minutes each day. This will strengthen your bones and muscles, increasing your chances of living longer. And since exercise has a million different benefits on your health, you'll be in great shape.
- you feel sleepy in the afternoon
Try this: Eat 30 grams of protein in the morning and skip the dairy. Eating eggs in the morning, or any high protein diet, will provide the energy you need, energy that lasts throughout your day.
- you want to get more out of your day, your year, your life
Try this: Set an alarm, one alarm, that's pleasant to hear, like music. Then, get up when it goes off. Not only will this help you get out of bed in a better mood each morning, the constant buzzing of an annoying alarm on snooze will only disrupt your sleeping patterns.
- you feel as if your kids take over your life
Try this: Wake a couple hours before the kids to allow yourself more time alone. If you have a spouse, do something in the morning together without the kids to add in bonding time. By the time the little ones scamper out of bed, you'll be ready.
- you need to initiate healthier habits due to an illness or disease, accident, weight gain, pregnancy, or overall crappy health
Try this: Read for 30-45 minutes and exercise 10-30 minutes each day. Reading has been shown to reduce the effects of Alzheimer's and dementia while exercise helps manage your weight, reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
- you have trouble staying motivated
Try this: Take 10 minutes in the morning to evaluate your goals. Use this time to track your progress and really feel it when you reach a goal, which studies show releases a pleasure chemical in our brains.
- you want to strengthen your creativity
Try this: Meditate for 10 minutes a day. A regular meditation practice has been known to increase your ability to focus, remain creative, and deal with stress. Another tactic is to go for a walk with your camera and capture a few shots of the world around you, which will allow you to see and experience your world in a new way.
- you need more positivity in your life
Try this: Spend 15 minutes checking in with yourself and setting your intentions for the day. Think about what you're thankful for in life, what you want to accomplish today, or where your priorities lie. Check in with your emotions about the world around you, and align your heart with your mind.
Use these tips as a guideline, not a rule. There are many other methods to try, and the same tactic might not work for everyone. Try out some different things to add to or alter your morning routine, and let me know what works for you.