Who just LOVES getting up in the morning? Not many people.
It is tempting to sleep in, especially if you work from home. However, the first few hours of the work day can have a significant effect on your level of productivity over the following hours, days and even the rest of your life! That's why you need to establish a morning routine that sets you up for success.
Writer Jim Citrin interviewed 20 CEO's and found that one thing most of them have in common is they wake up early and make strategic use of those first, calm hours of the day. One of Citrin’s interviewees, Steve Murphy, CEO of publishing company Rodale, had this to say:
"A line in a William Blake poem inspired me to think differently about my day: 'Think in the morning, act in the noon, read in the evening, and sleep at night.' This has made a huge difference in my life. Now, I take out a yellow pad every morning and write my thoughts for the day, which allows me to be much more strategic and proactive than reactive."
According to a 2013 World Health Organization (WHO) report, the average life expectancy of most people in wealthy nations hovers around the 80–year mark. Women in Japan have the highest average life expectancy of 86 years. Life expectancy in the United States is 79 years old.
If we use these average life expectancy numbers and assume your adult life starts at 18 years old, then you have about 68 years (86 – 18 = 68 years) as an adult. You’ll wake up about 24,820 times (68 years as an adult x 365 days each year = 24,820 days) in your adult life. Note that is about 24,820 mornings in your adult life, give or take a few.
Each breaking day represents one morning out of your allotted 24,820 (a little more if you’re lucky) that you need to spend wisely. Once a morning is spent, it will never come back again. A wasted, totally unproductive morning represents bad habits that spell disaster. Making the most of your mornings, therefore, is a recipe for success in different areas of your life.
Whether you are an early bird or a night owl, you need to make your mornings count. You only live once; why not live right? Here are some quick tips to help you make the most of your mornings.
Before you hit the sack, outline your plans for the next morning. Map out tasks you want to accomplish tomorrow and outline any articles you are want to write the following day. It will take a few minutes to plan your day ahead and save you hours the next day.
According to the National Institutes of Health, most healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep to function at their best. Go to bed at a decent hour to give your body and mind adequate rest, and so that you enjoy a full night's sleep. This will ensure you wake up refreshed, re-energized and ready for the tasks ahead.
Some people kick off their day with a short prayer, meditation or even a Bible verse reading. A brief ritual first thing in the morning signals to your brain that it’s a new day and time to get wake up get things running. You might also find it helpful to keep a bottle of fruit juice next to your bed so you wake up, take a sip and start off the day in a cool and natural way.
Whatever you do, when the alarm clock goes off in the morning don’t hit the snooze button. The snooze button is off limits. Period. Just get out of bed and do something. Your unique morning ritual comes in useful here to help you forget how much you want to stay in bed. If you need more sleep, set your alarm to go off 15 or 30 minutes earlier or later instead of using the snooze button.
What you wear affects your mood, level of confidence and how you behave. Wear something that makes you feel good. It doesn’t have to be a suit and tie; it can be pajamas if you work from home. Just make sure what you wear makes you feel good and confident about yourself and the day ahead.
Fuel your body for the tasks ahead with a proper breakfast. Eat some cereal and drink fresh orange juice to give your body an initial source of energy without bloating yourself with fats and calories too early in the morning. A bowl of oatmeal and coffee is also good to boost your energy and spirit for the day.
This one is difficult for many people, but resist the urge to check e-mail first thing in the morning. E-mails and the Internet can be huge distracters and time-wasters in the morning. If you must check e-mail, priority-scan your inbox and only respond immediately to the urgent messages. There will be plenty of time later to respond your e-mails.
Instead of checking e-mails first, start working on your most important, challenging tasks early in the morning when you are fresh, well rested and at your peak productive/creative time. Afternoons can be scheduled for less important tasks like checking e-mail and returning phone calls.
Scheduling high-value tasks in the morning at your peak creative/productive time means your day will get progressively easier, not the other way around. You will wind down the day with easier tasks and ease into your free time more relaxed. Success!
Hat tip to James Clear for the WHO life expectancy computations.
Image credit: Pimthida via flickr.com
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