5 Ways To Set Yourself Up For A More Productive Day
You know that saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? It’s not always about an apple. It’s about habit and routine. The metaphorical apple, in this case, is something that you do on a daily basis for the benefit of your overall well-being, to ensure that you are doing everything in your power to maintain a state that is healthy – and ideally, happy – and in turn, helping you live your best life.
Routine may sound boring to some, but there is a lot of benefit to be found in it. After all, it doesn’t necessarily mean monotony. You can still change up what that routine entails from time to time – in fact, mixing it up now and then to ensure a healthy variety can even increase satisfaction and prevent boredom. But the bottom line here is that finding, establishing, and sticking to a regular practice of something can help to provide us with structure. It can help us establish a better mind-body connection, and exist as a part of our self-care rituals. For the parents among us, it can also help to teach our children good habits that will serve them well later in life, as they watch and learn from us.
Research has shown that routine can be especially helpful during stressful times, allowing us to establish a sense of order and some regularity we can count on, even when everything else around us seems to be out of our control. The stability and security these habits can offer us also help us feel more organized, which can also make us more productive, and as a result, generally get a little more out of life. And in this case, the most simple things are often the most effective.
You know that other expression that asks whether you woke up on the right or wrong side of the bed? Well, that one alludes to how you begin your day. It sets the tone for what’s to come; a chain reaction, or butterfly effect, wherein you can either begin your day inviting in good things as per the law of attraction, or hobble forward with a misstep that you’ll potentially need to correct later on. Starting each morning with a few of these simple good habits can set you up for success throughout the rest of that day. We may not be able to predict what the future will hold, but we can do everything in our power to move towards it with the best foot possible. Read on to find out five straightforward ways to establish a good morning routine, which can help you have a better, more productive day.
- Wake up at the same time every day. When your weekdays have started to feel a little too hectic, it’s very common and understandable to want to have a solid lie-in on a weekend. It is important to ensure you are getting enough rest – and that includes every type of rest, not just sleep. But generally speaking, if you want to have a more alert and productive day, one of the best things you can do is get into a routine of waking up at the same time every day. Even if this varies by around 30 minutes here and there, sticking to the same general wake-up time allows your body’s circadian rhythm to adjust and adapt to the needs of your usual schedule, and research has shown that having less variability in your bedtime and wake-time can help you establish and maintain more healthy behavior across your entire life. This doesn’t mean you need to rise at the crack of dawn, either - belonging to the “5am Club” may be trendy these days, but earlier isn’t always necessarily better. It’s more about sticking to the same time, whatever that specific hour might be for you. Doing so will help to regulate your body’s circadian rhythm, which could not just help you be more productive with better memory retention, but it could also help to make you less irritable and less stressed, with a better libido, higher sleep quality, fewer cravings for unhealthy foods, and even a better immune system.
- Move a little. Dragging yourself out of bed bright and early to sweat it out in a grueling workout isn’t always easy, but as the saying goes, it’s often "more fun when it’s done". That isn’t just because it’s easier to get it done before you can talk yourself out of it after a long, busy day – there are other benefits to working out in the morning as well. Research has found that consistent morning exercise can help to reduce risk of obesity and high blood pressure. Studies have even shown that working out in the AM can lead to more increased movement throughout the rest of your day, too. That doesn’t mean exercise in the evening is any less beneficial – there are unique benefits to doing both. But if you’re not sure which one to choose, and struggle with being consistent with it during the evenings, then it can be wise to start your day with it instead. Bear in mind that your morning exercise doesn’t always have to be an intense workout, either: it can be any kind of movement, be that yoga, tai chi, a slow deep stretch, dancing, a short walk: whatever helps to get the blood flowing, boosting your circulation and releasing happy hormones and neurotransmitters in your brain that lead to a more positive mood, less anxiety, and better self-control.
- Stay away from attention-demanding apps. In the current day, it can be all too easy to start scrolling through your phone as soon as you wake, be that to check your messages or email, or flick through your favorite social media apps. In fact, some surveys have found that at least 80% of us are doing exactly that. But doing so could be doing you more harm than good. Firstly, it’s going to disrupt your circadian rhythm: your body needs a dose of natural sunlight in the morning, not the light from the screen of your phone. And secondly, it could lead to higher stress levels and anxiety, increasing overwhelm, and actually making you more unproductive in the rest of your day as a result. Pretty counterproductive, right? It can be difficult not to check your phone when you wake up, particularly if you use your phone as an alarm. If that’s the case for you, consider using a traditional alarm clock instead to see if that helps. Rather than getting stuck in a scroll-cycle as soon as you wake, try to use this time for a mindfulness practice instead, whether that’s a quick meditation, or just allowing yourself to be fully present as you go through your morning routine and get ready for the day.
- Begin each day the night before. Have you ever woken up on time, feeling pretty good when you do, only to still wind up feeling late and harried, because you were rushing around trying to organize everything from your thoughts to your wardrobe before you left the house? Well, a little forethought, planning, and organization could be the solution. Think of it as a way to add some fluid to your soon-to-be well-oiled routine. Establishing some healthy sleep habits and good sleep hygiene can go a long way towards making your next morning better. If you know that you’re usually slow to prepare your lunch in the AM, pack it the night before. If it’s choosing what to wear as you get ready for your day that causes you to be flustered and delayed, why not hang up an outfit the night before? If you tend to not go to bed on time because you’re up with racing thoughts, try establishing a journaling habit, or at least writing down your to-do list before you go to sleep. This way, the thoughts will be out of your head, leaving your mind clear for some better shut-eye.
- Make sure that includes a good night’s sleep! Taking care of all of the above but not paying attention to the quality of your sleep is like buying an amazing race car, investing in premium fuel, and then forgetting to actually pour it into the tank. Establishing good sleep habits can go a long way towards better shut-eye, but there is more "sleep hygiene" you can employ to get higher quality rest. Try not to read stressful news stories that you know will stress you out before bed, or if you are a smoker who hasn’t yet managed to quit, making sure you don’t light one up before you hit the sheets can help. Ensuring that your nervous system is in a healthy place can take some time, but it can also go a long way. Perhaps it involves removing your TV from your bedroom, indulging in some pre-bed self-care rituals, or making sure that you moved enough during the day to get rid of any pent-up energy and make yourself adequately tired. Try keeping a journal of your sleep quality: record which nights you slept well and those when you didn’t, and try to note down any factors in the day before that could have affected this – then try to cultivate your days around the rest-friendly routines.
Giving yourself the gift of understanding your own habits and needs, and incorporating that self-awareness into a lifestyle that helps you operate at your best, isn’t only the best way to set yourself up for a more productive day – it can also help you get more out of life in general.
All of the content on our website is thoroughly researched to ensure that the information shared is evidence-based. For more information, please visit the academic journals and other resources that influenced this article: The Importance Of Creating Habits And Routine; Irregular Sleep/Wake Patterns Are Associated With Poorer Academic Performance And Delayed Circadian And Sleep/Wake Timing; Effects Of Exercise Timing On Sleep Architecture And Nocturnal Blood Pressure In Prehypertensives; What Are Sleep Deprivation And Deficiency?; Consistent Morning Exercise May Be Beneficial For Individuals With Obesity; Greater Bed- And Wake-Time Variability Is Associated With Less Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors: A Cross-Sectional Study; Morning Work: Effects Of Early Rising On Sleep And Alertness; Morning Exercise Reduces Abdominal Fat And Blood Pressure In Women; Evening Exercise Increases Muscular Performance In Women And Lowers Blood Pressure In Men; Exercise May Have Different Effects In The Morning And Evening; “From The Moment I Wake Up I Will Use It…every Day, Very Hour”: A Qualitative Study On The Patterns Of Adolescents’ Mobile Touch Screen Device Use From Adolescent And Parent Perspectives; Always Connected: How Smartphones And Social Keep Us Engaged.
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