There are days when everything goes smoothly, when it all just seems to fall right into place and it’s like nothing can go wrong.
And then there are days when we struggle to get even the simplest things done. Every task, no matter how small, seems to come with bumps in the road which makes it tough to achieve anything. These days happen to everyone, and we are no exception.
You can never completely eliminate bad days, but there are things that you can do to make coping with them a little easier – your morning routine is hugely important because it sets the mood for the day to follow.
Try these seven quick exercises to start your day right, boost your motivation and increase productivity. You CAN become a morning person!
If you’re not a natural morning person, this is probably the last thing you want to read. But the research doesn’t lie: people who rise early are more proactive and are better at anticipating problems and minimizing them, which makes them more successful in the business world.
It’s no coincidence that some of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs wake up early. Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, wakes up at 5:30 A.M. to meditate and go jogging. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz gets up at 4:30 A.M. to work out and still gets to the office by 6 A.M. Steven Reinemund, the longtime head of Pepsi, gets out of bed at 5:30 A.M. with papers already in his hands. Well, maybe that last one is down to all the caffeine…
And they aren’t the only ones. Of course, the earlier you wake up, the more time you get to do your work, but that’s not the only advantage. On the contrary – many successful people spend their morning hours doing things that are not directly related to their jobs, but help them get things done more effectively during the working day.
Protip: Prone to hitting snooze again and again? Move your alarm to the other side of the room so you HAVE to get up to turn it off.
Breakfast rocks. It’s no brunch – now THAT’s a meal – but research shows that breakfast raises your energy levels and lowers your level of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that peaks during the early hours.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it influences almost every dimension of our being during the day, including our physical and mental performance. It’s also the most satiating meal of the day; eating a larger breakfast can lower your appetite and reduce daily caloric intake.
Breakfast has a significant effect on your ability to concentrate and perform mental tasks. Skipping breakfast, or not eating enough, will make you hungry so you’ll find it harder to focus and will be more likely to eat unhealthy snacks during the day.
Interesting fact: Kellogg’s conducted a big survey about breakfast and interviewed over 14,000 Americans. The survey showed that more than half (54%) of the respondents would like to eat breakfast every day, but only 34% actually took the time to have a morning meal. If only they’d followed the first tip in this guide and gotten up a little earlier…
Having a nutritious breakfast is good, but having a healthy nutritious breakfast is even better. According to Health.com, the twenty best products to eat in the morning are:
oatmeal, greek yogurt, wheat germ, grapefruit, bananas, eggs, almond butter, watermelon, flaxseed, blueberries, strawberries, coffee, tea, cantaloupe, kiwi, orange juice, cranberry juice, cereal, raspberries and whole-wheat bread.
Try different mixes and combinations to improve your diet and increase your productivity. And, if you run out of ideas, check out this page for some healthy breakfast recipes.
No more excuses for coffee and doughnuts every morning, OK?
You might already optimize your website, but did you know you could be optimizing your sleep too?
You’ve probably heard about sleeping phases, but may not know exactly what they are. When we sleep, we go through 5 stages:
Stage 1 – We drift in and out of sleep and can be woken up easily
Stage 2 – Our eye movements stop and brain waves become slower
Stage 3 – Delta waves begin to appear, mixed with smaller brain waves
Stage 4 – Brain only produces delta waves
Stage 5 – REM sleep (this is where dreaming occurs)
Wake someone up during deep sleep or while they’re dreaming and they’ll be disoriented and groggy for some time. Not the recipe for a successful morning, right?
Let’s say you need to wake up at 6 A.M. How can you work out when to go to bed so you’re not sleepy the next day? As people say, there’s an app for that! Try something like sleepyti.me to work out when you need to fall asleep to wake up during stage 1:
Remember that there’s a time gap between going to bed and falling asleep, usually 40 minutes or so, so plan your time accordingly.
If you want to be even more precise and don’t want to have to change the settings of your alarm clock all the time, there’s a useful app called Sleep Cycle (for Android and iOS) that will take care of all the heavy lifting for you.
Sleep Cycle analyses your…well, sleep cycle when you sleep and gently wakes you up as close as possible to your desired “get up time” once you reach your first phase, when sleep is at its lightest.
There are even gadgets that take it to another level: Jawbone and Mi Band fitness trackers track your sleep and wake you up with gentle vibrations (interestingly, this is technology that deaf people have been using for years) without disturbing those around you.
The benefits of regular exercise are pretty much endless. It helps you:
Exercising in the morning is ideal because it will improve focus when you reach the office but, whenever you do it, you should find yourself getting less stressed and feeling more in control.
You can find plenty of gadgets that will help you with your workouts, from simple pedometers and heart-rate monitors to complicated software and devices that monitor your health conditions and give personalized tips.
We’ve already mentioned the Jawbone band above. As well as tracking your sleep cycles, it can also track your heart health, activity etc. and use this information to give you tips on your health and workouts. The more you wear it, the smarter your “personal coach” becomes.
If you’re the type of person who thrives on competition, partner up with friends or colleagues to set yourself challenges like who can take the most steps in a day or burn the most calories in the gym. Jawbone’s Duel mode (we promise they’re not paying us, it really is just an awesome tool!) can keep track of all this stuff and make sure there’s no cheating going on.
Trying to keep yourself motivated, even if you love your job or have some fun plans ahead, can be difficult ESPECIALLY in the morning. Try working on your intrinsic motivation — behavior driven by internal rewards is usually more potent than extrinsic motivation (like money, prizes or acclaim).
For example, think about the meaning behind completing a certain task – as well as a sense of progress, consider how your work will help your business and ways in which it has helped you to improve certain skills or learn a new skill.
Remind yourself why you started your business in the first place. Set personal goals, explore different ideas and try to focus on enjoying what you are doing. Internal rewards, often emotions like a sense of accomplishment or satisfaction, will ultimately prove to be more beneficial than rewarding yourself with, say, a shopping trip or a nice meal.
Meditation is another great way to make yourself feel better. There are several reasons why you should try it, even if you don’t think it’s for you:
Meditation is very simple. Just find a quiet place and sit down, making sure you’re stable and upright. When your posture is established, start paying attention to your breath as it goes in and out.
After some time (maybe a few minutes, but more likely a few seconds!) your attention will leave the breath and wander in different directions. When you notice it, return your attention to the breath. And that’s all there is to it!
Even if you are busy, remember that doing some is better than doing none. Start by trying it for five or ten minutes and gradually increase the time you spend doing it.
Here’s a useful resource to learn more about meditation.
Protip: Many people worry that they’re getting meditation “wrong” if they can’t switch off or find themselves getting distracted, but there’s no such thing as doing it wrong – the act of meditation is very personal, and everyone has their own approach.
Remember why you started your own business? Maybe it was so you could spend more time with your kids, travel while you work or go surfing at lunchtime every day. Whatever the reason, make sure you’re actually DOING it.
Research shows that happy workers have approximately 12% greater productivity. That’s why companies spend money on team-building exercises, game rooms, massages and happiness coaches. All of that sometimes falls by the wayside when you’re working for yourself. But you don’t necessarily need coaches or fancy exercises to improve your mood and productivity!
Just find some time every morning to do something for yourself. You could read a chapter from your favourite book, watch an interesting video, check your favourite blog or just eat a very tasty (and nutritious! See point #2…) breakfast. If you dedicate a little time to making your personal life better, it’ll pay for itself in your business as well.
If you’re not a morning person you may still be sceptical about the above tips, but we think that if you commit to giving each one of them a try you’ll find at least one that makes the early hours of the day a little more bearable.
Say goodbye to your inner night owl and hello to your morning lark!
Have we missed anything? How do you motivate yourself in the morning? Let us know in the comments!Related posts: