“Morning is wonderful. Its only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day.” ~Glen Cook
Beep! Beep! Beep!
You’ve got twenty minutes to shower, get dressed, eat, and get to work.
Screw it—skip the shower today. And you can wait till lunch to eat.
Go! Go! Go!
We all know the feeling. These mornings suck.
From the moment you wake up you’re in a constant rush to get ready for work and out the door on time.
By the time you arrive you’re stuck in a frenzied state of mind, never able to settle into the day.
And if there’s traffic, forget it. Between knuckle-headed drivers, hitting every red light, and showing up late looking like a wreck, your entire day is ruined before you’ve even clocked in.
The question is, why do we do this to ourselves?
We sleep in as late as possible and jump out of bed, desperate to get ready quickly so we won’t look like Cinderella riding home in a pumpkin because she couldn’t manage her time.
The good news is you don’t need a fairy godmother or glass slippers to have a more productive, relaxing morning and get to work on time.
You only need two things: the mindset to make it happen and a simple strategy to set yourself up for success.
Only you can control the first. Going from someone who could never get out of bed on time to an early bird who wakes up at 5:30 seven days a week, I know all about the second.
These are the steps that contribute to what I call my perfect morning.
1. Add two, subtract two.
The biggest reason your mornings are rushed and unproductive is because you don’t give yourself enough time.
With the exception of true night owls, most occupy themselves late at night doing the unimportant, like watching TV, surfing the web, and overeating.
For many, it’s easier to get things done in the morning because there are fewer distractions.
The solution: Go to bed two hours earlier and wake up two hours earlier.
If you can’t make the switch that easily, wake up fifteen minutes earlier every few days and build on that until you’ve reach two hours.
Instead of staying up late staring at a screen, do yourself a favor and get some sleep so tomorrow you’re relaxed and ready for the day.
2. Put your phone/alarm across the room.
There are two problems with keeping your phone within reach while you sleep.
First, you’re prone to check it. Science has shown screen time at night tricks our brains into thinking it’s daytime, which decreases levels of melatonin (the sleep chemical), making it harder to fall asleep.
Second, the dreaded snooze button. When you fragment sleep by snoozing, you wake up feeling more tired than you did in the first place.
Putting your phone across the room eliminates both issues. You’ll fall asleep faster without distractions and set yourself up for success in the morning, so you wake up and stay up.
3. Gratitude first.
Have you ever noticed after a rough morning it seems your whole day goes that way?
You stub your toe first thing out of bed and then get stuck in a negative mindset you can’t escape.
The best technique I use to prevent this is to say “thank you” as soon as I open my eyes.
Doing this puts myself in position to notice the good in my life rather than let the bad things affect me.
Start your morning with a positive attitude and put yourself on the path to a great day.
4. Start with enjoyment.
Some people thrive on rolling out of bed to bust out 100 pushups to start their day.
For most people, this doesn’t work.
Our body needs a chance to wake up. You’re still in a dream state anywhere from five to thirty minutes after waking.
I like to do something that relaxes me into the day, like having tea while I read.
Instead of rushing, a calm awakening helps transition your mind while your body adjusts, setting the rest of your day up for success.
5. Avoid all news/media.
This habit is hard for some to break. They feel it’s irresponsible to not stay informed about what’s happening in the world.
But the news is downright depressing. It’s difficult to have a positive mindset when you start the day hearing about all the terrible things going on in the world.
Yes, it’s good to stay informed, but not at the expense of your own well-being.
Do yourself a favor and avoid all negative media in the morning. If you have to watch the news, wait until you get home from work.
In terms of happier mornings, it’s the best decision you’ll ever make.
6. Fuel your body.
Our bodies are like cars. With the tank full, a car will save gas and run longer.
After a night of sleep your body hasn’t had any fuel for hours.
Drinking lots of water and eating high energy foods like berries or oatmeal helps wake up your internal organs to give you the energy you need for the day.
Your body will tell you what it wants if you’re willing to listen. Work with your body rather than against it and your body will return the favor.
7. Complete your most important task first.
Dan Ariely, a leader in the field of time management, suggests our highest quality hours of production are the first two hours after waking.
The problem is that most waste their most productive hours doing tedious tasks like checking email or frantically rushing to get ready.
This concept changed my life. Instead of lying around doing nothing, I now spend the majority of my morning getting my #1 task of the day done.
The best part is even if everything else goes wrong, you can rest assured knowing you still completed priority number one.
8. Pick out clothes the night before.
Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week, explains we only have a certain amount of willpower for making decisions each day before reaching “decision fatigue.”
He says, “We have a finite amount of mental resources. The more decisions you rack up in one area, the fewer you can use on another.”
By avoiding simple decisions in the morning, by picking clothes the night before and planning breakfast ahead, you’ll be more confident in making the bigger decisions that actually matter.
9. Leave for work twenty minutes early.
Best-case scenario: you show up early, your boss is impressed, and you’re able to relax into the day.
By leaving early, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic. You can enjoy the ride and appreciate having a means of transportation to get to work.
If you work from home, give yourself extra time to get into work mode. You’re still a professional; don’t wait until last second to rush into phone calls and sales meetings.
Don’t ruin a perfectly good morning by waiting until last second to rush to work.
Leave early, get there early, and observe how much better your day is without any needless rushing.
You don’t need to be a morning person to take advantage of time before work and prepare yourself for the day ahead.
Having a more productive, confident, and relaxing morning is about putting yourself in position to succeed.
By making small changes like picking out my clothes before bed, leaving my phone across the room, and waking up earlier, I’ve created a habit of productive mornings with time still left over for watching the sunrise every day.
With a little willpower and a few changes, you can turn the morning hours into the most enjoyable and productive part of your day.
Woman relaxing in bed image via Shutterstock