Create A Productive Morning Routine: 13 Ways to Be More Productive
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I’m Not a Morning Person
I have always struggled with getting my butt out of bed and beginning my day with any sort of positivity. I’m great at finding ways to procrastinate getting up, which leads to the inevitable mad dash out the door. That’s no way to start a day! It’s especially hard for me now that I work for myself and I don’t strictly speaking need to get up at a certain time. But as I’ve become more responsible for my own time management, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to help me create a productive morning routine and be more productive.
Creating Your Productive Morning Routine
Don’t Look at Your Phone
This is one of my biggest struggles. In my attempts to keep my eyes open, I often open Facebook or Instagram and start scrolling. This is a terrible idea! For one, it launches me into the not so pretty world of news and politics before I’ve even had a cup of coffee. Plus it means I can accidentally lay in bed for 45 minutes while I mindlessly scroll, making the start of my day an act of procrastination – which doesn’t feel good. On top of all of that, it gives the mind no chance to think freely without the influence of social media.
It’s tough to peel away from my phone, but it’s absolutely the right choice. The days I start without checking my phone always feel more productive and more centered. So take my advice – stay away from your phone in the morning! If that means you charge your phone in the kitchen or living room overnight, then so be it. Buy a real alarm clock (yes they still make them) and just avoid your phone for the first hour of your day. You’ll thank yourself for that digital break.
Remember what I said about starting the day with an act of procrastination? Snoozing is a perfect example of that. You are not going to feel more rested from an extra five, ten, or twenty minutes of sleep. In fact, I’ve found that the mornings I snooze a few times tend to be the groggiest and grumpiest. Because the truth of the matter is that no matter how many times you hit snooze, you will eventually need to get up. So set just one single alarm, put your alarm clock across the room so you have to physically get up in order to turn it off, and have any snooze settings disabled. This one single change can really be the perfect (though perhaps hardest) way to improve your morning routine and make your day feel more productive.
Write Morning Pages
Writing my Morning Pages every day helps me in multiple ways. I have thirty minutes of peace and quiet at the beginning of the day where I can clear my head of any bothersome thoughts or worries. I like to pop on some gentle forest sounds or ambient music from Prime Music to help me focus my mind. If you haven’t tried ad-free listening yet, then you are missing out.
The act of writing my thoughts helps me feel more on top of my day and jump in with a positive attitude. If you haven’t been able to stick with a journal writing routine, give this technique a shot and see how it feels! I’ve been doing it for more than a year now and I can’t get in a good day of work without my Pages.
This one might seem super obvious, but I work from home so it’s really an optional step. I face an enormous level of temptation to only wear the coziest clothes I own. Don’t fall into the trap of comfy sweats and pajama pants! Take the time to pick out a cute outfit and do your hair. Slap on some foundation really quick, maybe put on some lipstick. Just make yourself look like a productive member of society and you will feel like one. I still occasionally wear some sweats and a Tshirt while I’m working, but I feel a lot less like my own boss and a lot more like a bum.
Even on days you are off work or weekends, try to step up your wardrobe beyond the laziest option. When you dress for the day, you feel more confident and ready to take on whatever life throws at you. So skip the ratty shirt and wear something that makes you look and feel snazzy.
Do I really have to explain this one? It doesn’t have to be a huge breakfast or even a sit-down cereal and milk breakfast. Just eat something small and healthy and you’re good. You can even take a small granola bar with you to work so you can munch on it at your desk. There are so many fast options for eating breakfast on the go that there really isn’t much of an excuse to miss this meal.
Drink a Glass of Water
When we sleep, our bodies get dehydrated. If you drink a glass of water in the first thing morning, you will replenish the water your body lost in the night and feel refreshed. It’s a super easy and tiny thing you can do to wake up your body in the morning to get a good start on the day. I mean, it really can’t get any easier to improve your morning routine. Water is always a great idea!
I know this one is tough but bear with me. Exercising early in the day has several benefits that you should really consider before you scoff at it. Waking up and jumping into some type of exercise, whether it is gentle yoga or a long run, wakes your body right up. You will get the blood flowing and shake the sleep off your brain. It also is great to do exercise early because then you knock an important to-do off your task list early. It feels really good to begin a day knowing you already accomplished something good. So give it a try for a few weeks and see if it doesn’t feel pretty amazing.
If you haven’t heard by now, morning meditation is awesome. And it’s not just hippie stuff anymore – science backs up how incredible regular meditation is for you. It can reduce anxiety, improve concentration, and help dial down the obnoxious chattering thoughts that take up space in your brain. Meditation first thing in the morning is great for a few reasons. Just like exercise first thing in the day, it helps to knock it out early on so you don’t have to try and squeeze it in later. Meditating early is also nice because it can help you begin your day on a more centered, positive tone. It’s the perfect way to start a productive morning routine, and it doesn’t cost a dime.
I struggled for years to meditate on a regular basis. I just felt I couldn’t stick to a schedule, or that I didn’t have time. Over the last six months or so, I’ve started pairing a few minutes of meditation with my Morning Pages. Now I sit down, meditate for ten minutes or so, and begin writing. If you struggle with finding time for meditation, I’d suggest you do the same thing. Pick a part of your morning routine and pair meditation to it. Meditate for five minutes before you shower, while you wait for your coffee to cool before you put on your shoes. And it doesn’t have to be for long. Start with five minutes and gradually increase the time in your sessions. I find that lighting some sage and a candle helps tremendously. Try out a few methods and find something that helps you relax and focus. Once you practice meditation for a while, you’ll feel the difference and wonder why you didn’t start sooner!
Write a List of 3 Tasks
Before you jump into your day, write down three tasks that will feel good to accomplish that day. For example, you could write exercise, send an important email, and grocery shop as your three tasks. Try to gear your day to accomplish those three things. When you are gearing down to go to bed, you can look at those three tasks in your planner and feel satisfied knowing that you knocked them out. Even if the day went off the rails and you didn’t feel very productive, you can gauge your day off of the success of those three items.
Of course, you can (and should) get more than three things done in a day. But putting the emphasis each day on three individual items can help you get a clear plan of action and avoid feeling overwhelmed. No one likes a to-do list of 10 things! So improve your morning routine by breaking it down, keeping it simple, and working more effectively with laser focus on three tasks.
Eat the Frog
Do the hardest or most important task first thing in your workday. The mentality, coined “Eating the Frog” by Brian Tracy, is basically this: If you have to eat a live frog, you might as well get it over with quickly. There’s no point in drawing it out, putting it off, or staring at the frog on your plate. Just eat it already, and you’ll feel better knowing that the rest of the day will be easier and more manageable. So when you make your list of 3 tasks, do the one you hate the most first. When you finally do it, you will feel so much better and feel more ready to take on the rest of your day!
Throw a Load of Laundry In
This might seem out of place on this list, but hear me out. If you are anything like me, then laundry is… problematic. It piles up, it gets left in the machine, and suddenly you can’t find socks to save your life. How can you systematically fix this issue? Well, do a load of laundry every day. In the morning, just throw a load of laundry into the wash. When you get home from work, move that load to the dryer. Fold it before bed. Boom.
Yes, it does mean doing laundry first thing in the morning, but it’s easier to keep that massive pile of laundry in check when you simply add it to your morning routine. If you don’t produce enough laundry to do a load every day, just do a load of laundry every morning you have a full load. That might mean only actually putting clothes through a cycle once every three days, but you can add checking your hamper to your routine to keep up the habit. Either way, making laundry (or any chore, for that matter) a part of your daily routine can make housework a bit more palatable.
Spend 30 Minutes on a Hobby or Skill
Spend a half hour every morning doing something you simply love. Whether you are a fiction writer, artist, avid bird watcher, or baseball enthusiast, you can take time each day to learn something new or hone your skills. For some hobbies, like drawing, you can sit down for small batches of time and still get some good work into it. Other hobbies, like sports or woodworking, don’t have that luxury. However, there’s nothing stopping you from using that time in the morning to learn. Take my crazy camping passion, for example. I can’t camp for half an hour every morning – duh. But what I can do is read camping blogs, research campfire recipes and write them down, look up good camping locations near me, etc…
Whatever your passion or hobby, find a way to devote thirty minutes to it every day and learn something new. You will enjoy learning about your favorite things, and, like exercise and meditation, it will be easier to keep up with such a positive habit if you do it in the morning. Later at night, when you are tired, it’s easy to put it off or simply forget to do it. But place it in the morning and you’ve got a winning formula for gradual progress in your hobby. If you don’t feel like you have many hobbies, this is the perfect time to pick up one of the many creative hobbies out there!
Prepare the Night Before
While this is technically an evening routine, preparing the night before can be a major step towards a productive morning routine. Eliminating decision making early in the day can help your whole morning go smoother. Plan out the next day’s tasks, lay out your clothes, know what you plan on making for breakfast… all of these are good ways to keep your morning free of pesky hang-ups.
Have a Cup of Coffee
Or tea or a smoothie or whatever floats your boat. Just take a few minutes to enjoy it. Make your morning like a ritual – peaceful, relaxed, and indulgent. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself the pleasure of drinking your coffee. Relish these little moments. Be thankful for them. Carry that positivity to your day.
You Can Have a Productive Morning Routine
It might not be easy to make changes when you are groggy and tired, but the first hour of your day can have an incredible effect on the following 18 hours. Just remember to not try to overhaul your entire routine in one morning, it takes time to create a productive morning routine. So try a few of these suggestions and improve your morning routine. Not next week or next month or at the turn of the new year – improve your morning routine tomorrow morning. Stop treating your morning like an inconvenience and greet the day with a smile, and guess what? The day will smile back at you!
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Thank you so much for this!!
Rather surprised MAKE THE BED isn’t on the list at all.
Even a US Navy Admiral said that’s the most important thing to do even if nothing else is done that day.
First thing I do in the AM when I wake up is go pee, then I say good morning to my son, Levi. This little 10 month old is so happy first thing and greets me with a smile when he wakes up. He’s an early bird too. I’m the afternoon lark in the family, and husband is the night owl.
You’re absolutely right! Making your bed really ought to be on this list, I’m amazed I didn’t think to add it!
Love eat the frog. I used to really struggle with the meditation thing but perseverance paid off and now I really miss it If I don’t sit for that 30 minutes.
It’s funny how much we get in our own way with these things, isn’t it? I’m glad you’ve found meditation to be so powerful! The world would be a better place if we all meditated a little each day ❤️
Doing a laundry every day?! Do you really have so much stuff? Because half empty washing machine is so not environment-friendly..
Of course not! Doing a load of laundry in the morning is just one of the many things you can do to start your morning off on a productive foot!
One way to do many of these suggestions is to get a puppy! The only things I have not been able to change in my morning routine is meditation and coffee/tea before needing to take her out. I get 20-30 minutes of walking with her, have to have my clothes laid out the night before, definitely cannot snooze, etc.
Just started last week with this new planner, still needing to put all my to-dos into a list.
Thanks for all the tips.
That sounds like a really cute and wonderful way to start the day MaryAnn!
I loved these tips! I 100% agree with not checking your phone first thing in the morning, but it’s such a hard habit to break! Also, never heard of “eat the frog” haha, but it makes so much sense. 🙂
You’re right Brenna, it is definitely a hard habit to break!
Pretty good article. I will try your way out
Thanks for reading Jack!
Thank you for the suggestion of using morning pages. I started my first entry on Nov. 12 with some apprehension of keeping going. Now a month in and I look forward to the 10 min or so I spend justing writing down what’s on my mind. Sometimes I write in the morning but mostly it’s been in the evening or throughout the day. I find that I am more relaxed and focused after writing. I’ve also included morning meditation and Bible reading as well. Thanks again for the great advice.
Meditation is a thing I will never do. It scares me that it is getting this popular…I keep seeing it on blogs all the time.
To each their own, Judith 🙂 Meditation has been very helpful for me, but if you don’t want to try it, then that’s totally your choice!
okay, to each their own. Just curious, though. Why?
So simple, yet effective tips. I needed reminding.
PS: There are 14 tips, not 13 ????Not a problem, though….they are all on point!
Whoooa. You are totally right, Laetitia! Looks like I forgot how to count! 😀 Oops!
I struggle with mornings too. I’d rather stay up at night, but I really can’t do anything productive while my husband is asleep. Checking FB is the most time draining part of my day. Once I get on, I can’t seem to get anything else done. Thanks for the tips to help get back on track. I think an earlier bedtime for me is another big key to getting up early.
I totally understand, Karen. I feel weird when my husband and I are both home and we’re in different rooms doing different things, like I can’t start doing anything really productive because we’re about to start doing something together. Does that make sense? It makes it tough to really do much but putter around on my phone. It’s hard to break out of that!
Thank you so much for this list! As soon as I saw the “Three tasks” idea, I jumped off the couch, cleaned my whiteboard, and wrote down three tasks I wanted to get done today.
It’s late in the day and I was feeling so dissapointed in myself before reading your post.
Now that I read your post, wrote down my three tasks, and realized that I got them done, I feel so much better about my day.
I also love the “no checking the phone first thing in the morning” idea…because I check my phone the second I wake up xP
That is fantastic, Manal! There’s nothing like a surge of productivity to wash away negative feelings. And I can’t emphasize how bad I used to be about checking my phone first thing. It’s awful. My mornings have been 10x better once I stopped that, and I definitely recommend that to be priority number one for your new routine!
I have never been a morning person , but recently I have tried to get better . However I haven’t made much progress . So I’m going to use these ideas to hopefully get my mornings on track . Thank you!
I know exactly how you feel, Makala. I have never considered myself to be a morning person. But once I figured out the right routine, I became a morning person, much to my surprise. It just takes some trial and error to see what works for you, so don’t give up!
Dear Shelby/ other Readers,
I’m wondering if mornin.g pages can be done… before going to bed? I get up for work about 5.30 am and don’t have time to write but I would love to :). Getting up earlier is not an option here :).
That’s a great question, Sylwia. And the answer is… absolutely! The point is to help you regularly relax your brain and allow you to process your thoughts. It can be a fantastic tool in the evening, especially just before bed. So go for it!
I read this blog post this past Sunday, and decided I wanted to try some of your suggestions, with some modifications. I’m absolutely NOT a morning person, so my alarm rings at 6:45 and I still rush to get out at 8:15. The most important was to not get on Twitter as soon as I woke up. I’ve been getting up and getting dressed right away – often before my alarm goes off,and then saying the morning service (I don’t meditate well, but praying counts.) Then I feel I can settle down with that glass of water you suggest, and my phone, for a half an hour or so. I’ve had relaxed breakfasts, and time to chat with my husband before strolling to my car or the bus stop.
I’m pairing this with taking my evening shower at or before 10PM and lights out at 11:30. That part’s actually a little harder – I really am a night person – but I’ve managed all this week. I’m also putting “no phone” and “early shower”in my daily logs in my bullet journal so I can check them off. I hope to move them to the monthly tracker in July.
(I’ve had success with this method before. When I want to start a new habit, I write it in my dailies for a week or more first.)
It’s only been one week, and anything can happen to throw me off, but this week has been amazing. I’m not waking up any earlier, but I feel like I’m accomplishing more in the day, plus I’m getting to work 5-10 minutes earlier, giving me time and get organized first.
Thank you for writing this post. I found something working for me from your suggestions.
I’m so thrilled that you found success, Debra! It’s incredible how a few small tweaks can have such massive effects. I hope you continue to rock your mornings and feel fantastic about your productivity!
You’ve forgotten “Take a shower” before your put on a nice outfit. Showering each day is an opportunity to start fresh.
Ah, I didn’t even think of that! I’m a night shower kind of girl, but I know some people just love the opportunity to start fresh every day. Good add!
I love this post and it reinforces that I really need to get back into my morning routine. These are all great suggestions but I’m intrigued by what your actual morning routine is, and how long does it take you?
That’s a really good question, Jane. It’s actually in the process of changing right now, so it’s not quite regular at the moment. But the goal is to get up at 6:30, run every other day and take the dog to the dog park on the off days. Then it’s come home, get dressed in my day clothes, have a coffee, write my morning pages, and jump into work. It’s pretty simple, but I have really been loving getting up with a real alarm clock instead of my phone! It’s done wonders for my morning mood and productivity 🙂
Well, I read this as I lay in bed scrolling and you inspired me to get up and get dressed. After a long school year and lots of travel we are so tired here at my house and I was going to let myself stay in my pjs today’s. But I still have a lot to do and you reminded me that I will be more productive if I am ready for the day. Thanks!
Thanks so much, Heather! The occasional pajama day is definitely welcome, but it is so easy to be a blob after a busy schedule (like right after finals). It’s great to take a rest day or two, but I would always take them too far and end up having a ridiculously lazy week! Thankfully, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of curbing that with some solid morning routines, but I know the siren call of the bed. I’m glad you kicked it into gear and had a productive day!
I was thinking that’d be a lot to fit into a morning. On a good day I’m lucky to get to eat my whole breakfast before I have to leave for work. I’d have to get up at 3am to fit it all in.
Except coffee. There’s always time for coffee. lol
Without coffee my day simply does not start! haha
Hi! I liked it! Congrats. I have a question: do you do all of these things daily?
That’s a great question, Maria! I guess I didn’t actually say. I only do about four each morning. I think doing all thirteen would be a bit of a beast every morning. I’d suggest you try all thirteen to see how they feel and see if they work for you, then stick with a handful.
Thank you, Shelby! I’m enjoying going through your site for some great Bullet Journal ideas, (as I just started mine on Sunday), loved this article, and I am looking forward to reading more!
Thank you so much Alex, I’m really glad you enjoyed the article. This one was a ton of fun to write!
I just lying on my bed.. Scrolling through Facebook on my phone when I saw the post.. What can I say.. It felt like the fates were pushing me to get off the bed ????
But you really made a lot of good points. Most of which I knew.. But I never really thought about it and it really really helps when someone else tells it.
Thank you so much
I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and that I could help push you out of bed in the morning! 🙂