Is it true that early risers take home the gold?
We’re always talking about how it would be great to have just one more hour in the day. We wonder how the uber-successful people in our lives find time to fit it all in, how they get as much accomplished as they do, and why they always seem to be one step ahead of everyone else.
Their secret might be simpler than you think, and with a little shift in how you lay out your day, you might be able to take advantage of the benefits of a well-orchestrated, intentional morning.
I know what you’re thinking: “I am not a morning person. Don’t you dare suggest I need to leap out of bed before dawn to cavort with the forest animals and run a marathon before it’s light out. I’m not human until noon, or until I’ve had six cups of coffee, whichever happens first. I’m going back to bed.
Trust me, you’re not alone. In fact, our 21st century lifestyle has done some wacky things to our circadian rhythms, making it more difficult to wake up early (think: late-night screen time and harried schedules that end at midnight and pick up again first thing).
Truly, as humans, we are wired to wake up at dawn. Studies have shown that we are most productive in the morning, and all it might take to fully capitalize on the spaciousness those early hours can offer is to tweak how you use your time between the alarm clock going off and when you run out the door. (But perhaps with these tricks, you won’t need to run at all!)
Get ready to feel energized, motivated and totally on top of your game. Here are the top eight things you can do to set yourself up for success in the morning:
1. Move your body.
Before the many priorities of the day creep in, commit to moving your body. We’re more likely to exercise—and commit to doing it regularly—if we fit it in before we’re overwhelmed by to-do’s. Even if it’s just for 20 minutes, take advantage of this part of the day where there are fewer interruptions and kickstart your productivity with a big hit of endorphins.
No worries if your morning won’t allow for sitting on a pillow and chanting for an hour. You can reap similar benefits with just a few minutes of quiet, mindful breathing. Focus on inhaling for four counts and exhaling for four counts as your mind settles and your body releases any panic about the day ahead. This isn’t supposed to be an opportunity to solve problems; Rather, it’s meant to reset the mind and create space for open thought and creativity later on.
3. Eat something and hydrate.
It seems simple, but eating and hydrating within the first hour of waking is a great way to set up your body and mind for success. A nourished, hydrated physical self will be less stressed, less tense and more focused throughout the day. Plus, you can avoid distracting hunger later on by pre-fueling. Aim to have at least three glasses of water before you leave the house, and power up with ample protein and fats to keep your cells running strong until lunch.
4. Stay positive, set goals, and speak intentions.
Starting the day on a positive note by checking in with goals you’ve set for yourself and giving yourself kudos for a job well done can set the tone for more successes and more goals realized. Set an intention for the day (“I intend to be focused”) and reflect on your goals (“Today I will eat well to nourish myself”) to keep your priorities in line. You can also jot down a few lines of gratitude. The more attention we pay to this, the more likely we are to continue to notice these moments all day long. This leads to more gratitude, more openness, and more satisfaction with the little things, which means less stress and feeling overwhelmed.
When we’re clear on what we intend to accomplish in the day, and we craft a plan to realize it, we’re more likely to make it happen. Using your morning hours to map out your day will help you stay on track and well prioritized. You can visualize or write these out, whichever works best for your mind. Consider your must-do’s, where you need to be, how you’ll get there, and who you plan to speak with that day. Factoring in things like travel time and anticipating challenges can also be helpful first thing. If you foresee them happening, you can preemptively develop a solution to work through them if they arise.
6. Tackle the tough task first.
While it can be tempting to procrastinate and tick off the 700 smaller tasks on your to-do list first, that larger more challenging one will loom over you all day (or all week). Email is often the biggest offender for tiny task takeover. Instead, scan your inbox quickly for anything urgent that could derail your day’s trajectory, then close your inbox until you get to work. Focusing instead on the largest task at hand, and committing to getting it done early, will free up mental bandwidth and improve your mood.
7. Create a ritual.
Having something consistent and predictable to look forward to in the morning—a walk with the dog, a pot of tea and a gratitude journal, or a few minutes of stretching—is tremendously calming. Knowing you have something pleasurable to look forward to will get you out of bed and into an I’ve-got-this mindset early in the day. Particularly if this includes something creative, like coloring or music, you’ll start your problem solving, artistic neurons firing first thing, priming them for easy use later on.
8. Get up an hour earlier.
The biggest hindrance to a productive morning is the snooze button. Even more so, leaving yourself just enough to time to get the essentials done isn’t conducive to spacious, calm time to yourself (and without that, fitting in any or all of the above will likely just cause you more stress). Plan ahead for when you intend to get out of bed, set an alarm and rise when that alarm goes off, even if that’s an hour earlier than you would usually get out of bed. How, you ask? Go to bed earlier. The quality and quantity of sleep will also play heavily into the next day’s success!
Originally written by Amy Height, ClassPass
Categories: healthy lifestile