When you get up in the morning, what do you do? Do you do the same thing every day? Are you stressed? Relaxed? Do you try to get things done? You'd be surprised how much impact these small, seemingly innocuous routines can have on your productivity throughout the day.
Each of us would like to have more productive mornings, but what seems "productive" may not actually be productive. Multitasking is the perfect example; human beings are objectively incapable of multitasking effectively
, yet most of us attempt to anyway. We try to save time by stacking two tasks on top of one another and end up doing neither efficiently.
So what do productive people do in the morning that's so different from the rest of us?
1. Getting Up There are lots of good reasons to get up earlier, but chances are you still haven't found the motivation to do it. To be successful, you must master two components: setting an earlier goal and following through that goal seamlessly. Trying to wake up at 5:30 a.m. won't do you much good if you end up sleeping in until 7:00 a.m.—in fact, you'll be even more stressed as a result. Use one of these strategies to start waking up early and putting that extra time to good use. Even if you only use it to relax, you'll end up starting the day happier and with a clearer mind.
2. Exercising Not all productive people exercise, but it's common among successful CEOs and entrepreneurs. Working out in the morning gives you an immediate energy boost and a better mood throughout the day. It also makes you feel accomplished and gives you a chance to take that momentum further in whatever work you have to do. Even 20 or 30 minutes of cardio can make a difference in your morning. You can make that commitment.
3. Eating Breakfast Do you usually skip breakfast or swing by a fast food place to save time in the morning? Productive people tend to invest a few extra minutes to make themselves a healthy, balanced breakfast. It might take you an extra five minutes to cook eggs or dish up cottage cheese and wheat toast, but the complex carbs and protein you eat will have a lasting effect on your attention and mood throughout the day.
4. Consulting Digital Devices Do you roll out of bed and immediately check your phone for emails? Productive people don't. There's a time and a place for communication, and bombarding your brain with it first thing in the morning almost always leads to disaster. Instead, take some time to relax and collect yourself before addressing anything on a digital screen. The emails can wait—trust me.
5. Commuting How do you make the most of your commute? Do you drive as fast as you can, yelling at bad drivers and traffic situations? Instead, try to make your commute an opportunity to develop yourself. Download audiobooks to keep handy or catch up on voicemails in the car. If you carpool or take public transport, you could even use the time to break out a laptop and do some serious work.
6. Clearing Your Head You don't have to meditate in the morning, but it's a good idea to take time to clear your head. Do something you like to do, whether that's before you leave the house or when you get into the office. It will de-stress and give you greater focus, attention, and motivation throughout the day.
7. Starting Work When you start tackling assignments, do you simply dive in and start blazing? Rather than diving in, it's more effective if you take a step back, evaluate what you have on your plate, set priorities, and start planning your day. Even if your plan doesn't come to fruition completely (and it probably won't), you still get the benefit of knowing what lies ahead of you, and you'll work more effectively because of it.
Learn from these morning habits, and make adjustments to your own routine. Just a few simple changes could grant you hours of extra productivity, and in the course of things, you'll probably feel happier and less stressed. Of course, what works for one person doesn't always work for another, both in terms of practicality and in terms of personal preference.
Experiment to see which of these morning routines work best for you and your productivity, and forge a commitment to those you like best.
Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.