I wake up every morning, convinced that I’m going to have the most productive day ever. I have a list of tasks in my head that I’m absolutely ready to finish up, one after the other. Come 1 a.m. and I’m going to sleep dissatisfied, neither well-rested nor having done enough during the day. “Tomorrow”, I promise myself. (Spoiler: Tomorrow turns out the same way as the day before, as does the day after, and the day after that). Clearly, my motivation dips somewhere along the way.
It took me some soul-searching to realize that if I wanted to fix my day, I needed to fix my mornings first. The morning really does set the tone for the rest of the day, and more often than not, the productivity of my day depended on how I spent my mornings. Especially right now, during the pandemic, my day lacked any semblance of a routine. After some experimenting and failed attempts at productivity, I finally hit upon the ideal morning routine, the one that works the best for me. Here are 8 things I do, 8 things that I guarantee will help you turn your day around.
- Waking up by 7 a.m.
A common misconception is that a good sleep cycle is one where you manage to fit in a minimum of 6 hours of sleep. This doesn’t really help much. The more important thing is to have a regular sleep routine. This should ideally also take care of covering the minimum 6 hours.
Waking up at the same time every day helps your body set its circadian rhythm. A set circadian rhythm has several benefits. It increases your overall concentration and productivity, increases your metabolism, regulates your digestion cycle, boosts your immunity (which is especially valuable considering the unprecedented times we’re living through right now), and generally just gives you that shot of energy that will help you make the most of the rest of your day.
Waking up by 7 a.m. everyday is highly recommended. This allows you to make the optimal use of your morning to get everything done. This also encourages you to go to sleep earlier, and at the same time every night. A good night’s sleep is exactly what you need to start off your productive day.
- Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning
A lot of times, your body convinces you that you’re hungry as soon as you wake up when it’s really just thirsty. It is extremely dehydrated when you wake up, considering that it hasn’t gotten any water in the last several hours. Drinking water on an empty stomach hydrates you first thing in the morning and flushes out toxins from the body in the morning. It has also been proven the water on an empty stomach increases the rate at which red blood cells repopulate, which means your oxygen intake and energy will increase. Starting your day with a glass of water also ensures that you avoid early morning snacks.
- Doing nothing
Your entire day is a whirlpool of tasks. You’re constantly moving from one task to another, working from deadline to deadline, and when you’re even the littlest bit free, you feel the pressure to utilise it to“relax”. You’re constantly doing something, and even when you aren’t physically working, your thoughts are constantly crowding your head, which is why doing nothing is one of the most important parts of your morning (nay, your entire day!)
As simple as it sounds, doing nothing is one of the most difficult things to, well, do. Sit down, close your eyes, breathe in and out. Try to really clear your head. It’s awfully hard to not think of anything, and one of the most effective ways to do this is to redirect your focus onto your inhalation and exhalation. This increases your oxygen intake and helps you clear up mental space.
- Making a to-do list
Making a to-do list helps you clear up your head, and the more specific your list is, the better. You’ve freed up mental space for more important things, and you know how to structure the rest of your day. The satisfaction of crossing things off of a to-do list also gives you an incentive to carry out a task!
- Getting some exercise
Exercise undoubtedly has several benefits, ranging from physical fitness to better immunity. Getting yourself to exercise in the morning can be quite the task but what better time to fit in your 20 minute exercise than after a good night’s sleep! The right morning workout can really just wake you up.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s body is different, and that you need to experiment and find the workout routine that’s right for you. Remember that the goal of a workout is to make you feel better and more active, and not tire you out. Take a walk, go for a jog, jump rope or take your pick from the plethora of online workout routines. Just remember to find a reliable one, and take a break day in between.
Most people sweat when they sleep and showering can really shake off any residue of sleepiness, as well as all that sweat. The key is to not shower in warm or hot water, because warmer baths are more likely to facilitate sleep (so, definitely recommended for the night-time). As for morning showers, you’ll have to – brace yourself – shower in cold or lukewarm water. Cold showers improve blood circulation and help you with any post-workout soreness that you may experience. Even if you don’t plan to step out, washing up, brushing your hair, and wearing a clean set of clothes can really make you feel like a whole new and improved person.
- Getting some (mental) exercise
Working out: The Sequel. Your brain is more attentive and sharper during the mornings, and this is usually a great time to work on some hardcore academic work or any kind intellectual pursuits. Solve a few math puzzles, take a shot at a newspaper crossword, read through that article for class, or take a crack at that assignment. Harness that brain power that’s been cultivated over the last few tasks of your morning routine. Your focus and keenness will ensure that you get quality work done at a much faster pace.
- Eat breakfast
The!!! Most!!! Important!!! Step!!! Most people skip breakfast for a multitude of reasons, and this is strongly advised against. Breakfast is THE most important meal of the day, and literally fuels you to work. Remember, you haven’t eaten all night and for a large part of the morning, and your morning drink can only sustain you for so long.
While the other steps do increase focus and energy, eating breakfast is what gives you actual glucose to run on. It helps you discipline your eating as well, because once you’re full, you’re less likely to snack randomly or be distracted by hunger. Meal prepping the night before can help you eat breakfast if one of your reasons for skipping is a lack of time. It’s important not to over-eat though. Make sure to eat just enough to keep you full till lunch.
All said and done, the most important thing is to tailor a routine that suits you and your needs, figure out what order works for you the best, what makes you tick. When you adopt a new routine, don’t give up and keep at it. Most things can take anywhere from a week to a month to really set in, and it’ll be a task to really get yourself to do it. But once you do – it’ll be worth it.
Don’t be hard on yourself, give yourself the time to adapt and take that break when you need it. Sometimes, all you need is laying in bed all day long watching Netflix, and when you need it, give yourself that well deserved vacation.