Is your history of defeats by the snooze button longer than the list of Wile E. Coyote’s failures in capturing the Road Runner? Does it take you hours before you stop waddling around like a pyjamas-wearing zombie and actually feel that you’ve got this?
I feel you, my friend: I’ve been there, too. Being your own boss might be the best feeling EVER when you don’t have to face panic attacks before submitting holiday requests, but it also means that, if you’re late for work, nobody is going to give you a warning. You’ll just end up kicking yourself when your deadlines start approaching faster than you thought and you’ll have to morph into a caffeinated hamster.
The way we start our day can truly make or break the rest of our morning and afternoon, so we’d better start it right and with positivity. Here’s how a morning routine can help you ditch your struggle with productivity.
More positive mindset
Your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day, so you have two choices: go with whatever mood the sleep gods decide to give you or create your perfect mood. By having a morning routine, you allow yourself to take some ‘you time’ whilst accomplishing small tasks, repeating positive quotes, reminding yourself why you are running your own business or thinking of something you’re grateful for.
When you work in an office, you are forced to work at certain times, meaning that, no matter what, you need to be ready by then: you must wake up at a specific time, get dressed and commute. By the time you get to the office, you’re usually awake and ready to work. When you’re working for yourself, though, you usually don’t go through all those steps, so it can be hard to train your brain to be productive as soon as you sit down in front of your laptop if your brain never knows when that time will be. That’s why a morning routine is a true blessing, like many studies have proved! By accomplishing a sequence of simple tasks, our cogs in our brain start turning and we feel rewarded because we’ve actually done something. It’s much easier to go from having completed a few simple tasks to starting your first project of the day rather than going from duvet to deadlines with nothing but a yawn in between.
Easier to stick to your working hours
I’m not saying that you should force yourself to wake up at 5 am like many gurus preach or work from 9 to 5 if you’re more of a night owl: the important thing is that you pick the time slot that works best for you and stick to it. Without a routine, it’s so easy to procrastinate and lose yourself watching YouTube videos or Googling important ‘matter of life and death’ questions such as “do penguins have knees?” (before you open a new tab to find out: yes, they do). As a set number of tasks that usually requires the same amount of time to complete, a morning routine allows us to ground ourselves no matter what time or day of the week it is. And if you’re tempted to say that half an hour is too precious to be wasted on a morning routine, just think of all the time that you’ll save by being productive as soon as you turn on your laptop, as well as the fact that you don’t have to commute or get changed and ready for work anyway (we all know that you work in your pyjamas most of the time!).
What’s a good morning routine?
Well, there isn’t a universal rule, but here are a few ideas that I’ve put together drawing inspiration from my habits and researching the most successful and healthiest morning routines. I’m not saying that you should do all of these tasks nor that you should follow this order: just use them to get some inspiration and then craft your perfect sequence! Don’t be scared to try different things until you find the routine that works best for morning zombie you.
When life gives you lemons… drink them!
The very first thing that I recommend that you do is drink a glass of water and lemon juice. Not only is it incredibly beneficial to your skin and digestion, but it also helps you absorb vitamin C and stay hydrated. Since dehydration can cause headaches and tiredness, you can see why it would threaten your productivity. (1)
Refrain from checking emails
Has your working day started? No. So should you check your emails? No. Are you sure, Giada? Yes. But what about whilst I’m-NO! Your morning routine is there to help you start the day with a positive attitude, and reading something stressful can take that away from you. As a freelancer, it can be hard to switch off from your business, as we often feel the need to hustle 24/7, but we must learn to value and respect our time off. Nothing bad will happen if you check your emails half an hour later, so make sure that your morning routine is email free.
If you have a shower in the morning, start with cold water (you’ll curse me at first, but it’s good for you, so I’m willing to accept your hate). If you usually take showers before going to bed, then wash your face with cold water in the morning. This is good for your skin since it tightens your pores and facilitates circulation, and good for you because it helps you wake up. (2) After I’ve done that, I also like to use a tonic and apply a moisturising cream.
Don’t skip breakfast!
If you want to be a super-productive machine as soon as you get cracking with your workday, you need fuel. Breakfast is vital for a balanced diet and skipping it could mean finding yourself feeling very peckish a couple of hours into your first projects, leaving the desk to find snacks and saying goodbye to your productivity.
Complete a simple task
You don’t have to solve Rubik’s cube every day (although, fair play if you can!): you just need a non-work-related task that you can accomplish, so that your brain can release some dopamine, making you feel rewarded and productive. (3) For example, instead of pushing a button, I make my coffee with a manual pour-over method that requires me to weigh the coffee grounds and pulse-pour the water for three minutes. I also water all my house plants (which are… a lot). Another idea is to write something in a journal. Whatever you fancy!
Meditate or concentrate on positive thoughts
Starting a new workday can be stressful, so I recommend squeezing a short meditation into your morning routine to help with anxiety, or even just getting used to reminding yourself something you’re grateful for or why you have chosen to run your own business.
I’m not going to lie: I still haven’t managed to get into that habit, but if you’re a more active person than I am—statistics are on your side—you’ll be happy to know that exercising is a great part of a morning routine. It reduces stress, increases your energy capacity, keeps your blood, glucose and oxygen levels high and it releases endorphins that give your mood a boost. (4)
Check your to-do list (and have it ready!)
Ok, this is not something that you can physically do during your morning routine (unless you have finally achieved time travel after all those years of failed experiments in your garage!), but it’s something that can improve it. Before going to bed or finishing your workday, write down a reasonable and realistic list of tasks that you must complete the following day so that you won’t have to stare at your screen trying to figure out what to prioritise: you’ll know exactly what the first move is. It’s all uphill from there!
Have you got a morning routine? Anything that I’ve missed out?
Lewin, J. (n.d.). The health benefits of lemon water. Retrieved from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-lemon-water
(n.d.). (2019, September 7). Slow skincare routine for combination skin. Retrieved from https://www.rejeanne-underwear.com/en/slow-skincare-routine-for-combination-skin/
Santos, G. (2018, March 15). 33 Ways to Increase Dopamine to Boost Your Productivity. Retrieved from https://helloendless.com/10-ways-to-increase-dopamine-to-boost-your-productivity/
Sanders, H. (2018, October 15). How exercise improves productivity and your brain function. Retrieved from https://www.bbfp.com.au/latest-articles/how-exercise-improves-productivity-and-your-brain-function