What time do you wake up in the morning? It’s generally a good idea to get an early start to the day.
Although you may find it difficult to shake off the morning haze, especially if you are a self-proclaimed night owl, waking up early is linked to many benefits. Researchers have found morning people are more healthy, productive and successful than the rest of the population.
In deed, many highly successful people believe in getting an early start to the day. Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher woke up every day at 5 a.m., Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney wakes up at 4:30 am, renowned architect and educator Frank Lloyd Wright was up at 4 am, and author Kurt Vonnegut woke at 5:30.
In an interview with George Plimpton, Ernest Hemingway (winner of the 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature) explained how his early morning routine helped him succeed as a writer:
“When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there.
“You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that.
“When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.”
That’s right, there is power in early morning routines. What you do in those early morning hours, particularly the hours between when you wake up and when you sit down to read or write, or head out to work, can make or break your day.
Tips to Get an Early Start to Your Day
Here're some things you should include in your morning routine to ensure you utilize those early morning hours in a way that sets you up for a productive, happy, and successful day ahead.
1. Start the day with meditation.
Meditation improves cognitive functioning, boosts creativity and also lowers any stress you may have. Padmasree Warrior, Chief Technology & Strategy Officer of Cisco Systems, and former CTO of Motorola, Inc, puts it best when she says meditation “is like a reboot for your brain and soul.”
By taking a few minutes every morning to meditate, you put yourself in a mindful, in-the-moment state that sets you up for success throughout the day. If you are a religious person, starting the day with a session of prayer can also have similar effect as meditation and is worth trying as well.
2. List your top agendas for the day.
Chances are you lead a busy life, meaning important tasks can easily slip through the cracks and not get done. To prevent this happening, list at least three of the most important things of the day you want to get done and make sure they get done on time.
For example, you may have important phone calls or meetings on a given day. List the meetings and set up agendas for them beforehand. When you have your day properly planned out, you increase your efficiency and reduce chances of missing daily goals or appointments.
3. Listen to uplifting music.
Nothing soothes the spirit and prepares you for a productive day quite like listening to the right music early in the morning. The best thing about listening to music in the morning is that you can adjust your music for the type of day you want to have.
For example, if you want an action-packed day, listening to some thumping, fast-paced music first thing in the morning can set you in the right mood for that kind of day.
Similarly, if you want a laid-back day, listening to soothing, slow music in the background can prepare you for that day. Switch things up a bit and listen to an inspirational or motivational audiobook for the perfect start to your day.
4. Exercise and do some body stretching.
Whether it is doing pushups, running on the treadmill or going for a jog around your neighborhood, exercising in the morning before work keeps you physically fit and gives you that boost of energy needed for a productive day.
Exercise triggers your metabolism to action and keeps your energy elevated, which means you feel energized throughout the day and pumped to get what needs to be done DONE.
Spend at least 30 minutes each morning exercising or stretching. It will make a world of difference throughout your workday. Don't forget to eat a healthy workout diet to nourish you after exercise.
5. Take a cold shower.
Yep, after a good early morning workout, take a cold shower – not warm. The feeling of cold water running down over your body may be terrifying at first, but the deep breathing response to your body’s shock increases your overall oxygen intake and actually keeps you warm.
Your heart rate increases and the resultant rush of blood through your entire body boosts wakefulness and can even lead to a substantial fat loss over a 1-2 week period. You will also find yourself involuntarily smiling or laughing in the shower, which is good for your overall mood throughout the day. In fact, a cold shower beats caffeine any day for waking up and feeling alert.
6. Eat a healthy breakfast.
You need to eat a healthy breakfast high in fibers and nutrients as opposed to one full of refined sugar, grains, salt or saturated fat to have a productive day.
Eating a healthy, balanced breakfast jumpstarts and gives your body the nutrients it needs after the long six to 10 hours of sleep at night.
However, avoid eating a heavy breakfast even if it is balanced and full of healthy foods. Your digestion is at its weakest in the morning and stuffing yourself can tax your digestive organs, upset your stomach, and unintentionally set you up for a sluggish day instead of an energized one.
7. Smile at yourself in the mirror.
Stand in front of the mirror and just smile for a few seconds—30 seconds, at least. It doesn’t have to be a big goofy grin, just the hint of a smile – like you have some tricks up your sleeve you can’t wait to show the world – can do.
Seeing a happy you reflected back in the mirror instantly lifts your spirit and self-esteem. It gives you the opportunity to speak positive things to yourself and beat any negative self-talk you may have. Try it today right before work. You will be surprised at the positive thoughts and energy this simple exercise brings and wonder how you ever got along without it.