There’s something about a productive morning routine that just gets us feeling like we’re about to conquer the world even if all we’ve done is some yoga.
I have never, ever, been a morning person, but I strongly believe that starting with good morning habits has been one of the major keys to my ability to continue to be productive and optimistic throughout the day.
No matter how you slept, no matter how you woke up, you can make the rest of your day so much easier or harder depending on the next steps you take.
And it doesn’t mean you need to be bounding out of bed singing to the birds outside your window.
You just need to have some discipline and follow these steps.
Now, let it be noted that the most productive morning routine is going to be the one that you can stick with and what works for you, so experiment!
You don’t have to do these things in this order, but try to incorporate them somehow into your final productive routine.
Best tools for Productivity
Steps to a Productive Morning Routine
Step 1: Do Some Meditation or Mindful Listening
When you first get up, whether that’s at 5:30am or 9:30am (I’m not here to tell you to be a morning person, I’m just here to tell you what to do with YOUR morning), you don’t even have to move yet.
But what you do need to do is say goodbye to social media and do not spend the first minutes of your day scrolling Instagram!
Instead, instill good habits in yourself by engaging in stress relief techniques like meditation or mindful listening.
I find meditation can be hit or miss for me, while it works wonderfully for others.
But I do my own kind of meditation, putting on a certain playlist or song and really focusing on the words and letting my mind focus and be mindful of the lyrics and the music without wandering too much.
Whatever works for you, try and incorporate this into your productive morning routine and you’ll find that you are calmer, more focused, and able to handle the obstacles ahead (because this is life, there will always be obstacles).
Step 2: Make a Plan
The number one mistake people make when trying to be productive is by not having any plan or any goals they’re going to hit.
It’s not enough to sit down at your computer and say “I’m going to write a book!” or “I’m going to start a business!”
That’s not a plan, and while it is a goal, it’s a very vague one.
To make the most of the rest of your day, use your morning to plan out exactly what you’re going to achieve that day, when you’re going to do it, and how.
Not only does this help us focus, but it helps us keep ourselves accountable.
Suddenly, if we don’t get those 4 pages written, it’s very clear to us that we failed, so we can learn from it.
If we didn’t know how many pages we were trying to write, how will we know if we even succeeded?
You don’t have to make a plan in a prescriptive way.
I highly recommend organizing your planner to work for you in your plans, but some people also like to do mind maps, or you can do a virtual to-do list, or you could plan a list of what you’re going to do without time constraints, or you could say “I’m going to spend 2 hours on this task and move on after that no matter how far I get.”
The point is that you need something, some sort of structure, and what better time to put that in place than the morning?
Use a bullet journal like this for awesome planning potential.
Step 3: Hydrate and Fuel Appropriately
I know, I know.
Telling people to hydrate in the morning is so 2018, but I recommend it because you’re probably dehydrated anyway so it couldn’t hurt, and also because it can be a very easy “win” in the morning and a habit to keep track of.
Sometimes, having those small habits that we find easy to do are going to give us the confidence and discipline we need to keep the others ones in place.
Some people recommend drinking a full glass of water right when you wake up, other people do it with breakfast, other people do it throughout the morning, but just make sure to hydrate!
Use a reusable water bottle like this to encourage yourself and to save the planet.
I say “fuel appropriately” as part of the best productive morning routine, which I fully stand by.
When you do eat, you should be eating things like eggs and proteins and steel cut oats, not Pop-tarts.
That being said, listen to your body and how it wants you to fuel when it comes to the time you eat.
Some people really don’t function well or find themselves productive if they eat too early in the morning, and others find it distracting to take a break from what they’re doing to eat.
You need to look after your body, so fuel it appropriately based on what it’s asking for and what helps you be productive.
This does not include caffeine!
Step 4: Get Moving
Many people are most productive the rest of the day if they do some intense exercise in the morning.
They find it wakes their mind and body up, makes them feel good, gives them those endorphins to then go on and be productive the rest of the day.
Others find that if they were to do a full workout first thing, they’d find it much harder to get back into the swing of things after working out and prefer to go straight from bed to the tasks for the day.
Either way is fine, but you should still make sure that you get moving somehow.
You don’t have to go for a 5 mile run first thing in the morning, but you can do some stretching while you brush your teeth, you could go for a 5 minute walk around the block while you listen to your favorite song.
Get your body moving at least slightly to get your brain engaged.
Step 5: Do the Hardest Thing First
When it comes to your planning and to actually sitting down and getting that productive morning in motion, you should always start with the hardest thing you have to do that day.
It sounds counterintuitive because you’re like, “but I JUST got up! I can’t do the hardest thing yet!”.
But is that just a story you’re telling yourself?
If you do the hardest thing first, then the rest of the day is easier from there, and like a boulder going downhill, you’ll pick up more and more momentum.
Otherwise, you’ll be expending all of your energy throughout your day and trudging up the hill to try and do the hard part last, so set up your morning right, conquer that hardest thing, and reap the rewards later.
Example Productive Morning Routine
My morning routine that helps keep me in line and being productive daily looks like this:
- 7:00am: Wake up to an alarm and put on a motivational 2-3 minute song
- 7:05am: Get to my desk and work out a plan for the day in my planner
- 7:20am: Do the hardest task of the day
- 8:20am: Exercise
- 9:05am: Shower
- 9:15am: Eat breakfast, drink a full glass of water, and get dressed
- 9:45am: Back to work to carry on the rest of my day refreshed, inspired, and having done the hardest thing already!
What Not to Do in the Morning
As mentioned above, there are some things that you should avoid doing in the morning if you want to be productive, even though they might be tempting at the time.
- scrolling through social media or your e-mail first thing – schedule time for this later in the day
- pressing the snooze button at all
- eating unhealthy foods like muffins or Pop-tarts
- spending too much time socializing or being distracted by other people in your household – there’s time for that in the afternoon and evening
- watch television or other passive forms of entertainment – learning something is okay
Things to Help You Be Productive in the Morning
The products that you use to help yourself form a productive morning routine could be absolutely minimal and just a piece of scrap paper and a pencil, or you could go all out with the bullet journals and accountability calendars and alarm clocks that wake you up with special light.
Here are just some of the things to think about that might put some excitement into your morning routine or be practical necessities to keep you motivated:
Planner or Calendars
Whatever kind you prefer, no matter how simple or complex, having a planner or calendar to physically write down your plan or to-do list (or virtually if you prefer to do it electronically) is going to be what keeps you on track and not aimlessly wandering around all morning not knowing what you want to achieve.
This is not a one-size fits all situation.
I prefer writing things down in blank notebooks, my husband prefers much more involved planners that involve answering questions about your mindset and emotions each morning, and some people are more artistic and prefer the freedom and colors of bullet journals.
But whatever it is, run with it and let it turn your morning into a success.
For some reason, having a water bottle filled with water that is the amount you want to drink each morning can be so helpful for people instead of getting a regular glass from the kitchen.
Whether there’s something to do with the mindset of having the water already there, waiting for you, or because it helps you see how much water you’ve consumed and how much more you need to, consider buying a reusable water bottle to help you with your hydration efforts.
If nothing else, they’re a bit more fun than normal glasses, you can get one in the color of your choice, and if you have to dart off somewhere to an appointment or class or work, you can take it with you.
If you are somebody who isn’t going to fully work out in the morning but can spare a few minutes for stretching or yoga, a yoga mat like this one is a nice way to help you set up a little corner of the room and really focus on the task at hand: to move your body.
It gives you support, makes sure you won’t be slipping around on the hard wood or carpet (both equally slippy in socks, seriously!), and shows that you’re taking your health and wellness seriously – as long as you actually use it and don’t just let it collect dust.
Non-Obnoxious Alarm Clock
There’s nothing worse than the standard phone alarm clock.
It’s loud, it’s in every movie and TV show so we all are triggered now when we hear it, and it doesn’t start your day off calmly but instead jolts you awake.
There are so many different alarm clock options, including ones that don’t even just sound but simply use ambient light to bring up the brightness in the room and wake you up.
Whatever you prefer, look into your alarm clock options if you find that you can’t consistently rely on your body to get out of bed at the same time, because that blaring in your ears in the morning of the beep-beep-beep is starting no one’s day off right.
To motivate yourself to stick with your productive morning routine for the long haul, you can download a habit tracker onto your phone and put each productive morning habit on there.
Each morning that you do it, check it off and you’ll soon see a string of colors or check marks that you won’t want to break.
This is a fun way to teach yourself some self-motivation and use these little mindset tricks to guilt ourselves into doing things that we know are good for us, even when we might not want to in the moment when it’s 7 am and we were up until midnight last night watching Netflix.
If you want a printable or downloadable habit tracker, I’m obsessed with this one.