Are you someone who takes a long time to get out of bed and start doing the things you need to get done? Do you feel a bit sluggish throughout the day?
The promise of a productive day lies in an effective morning routine. Design it well and it will help you be happier, more productive, and more efficient.
Why You Need a Morning Routine
You might think that your current morning routine is sufficient, or that you don’t need to do the same thing every morning, but having a specific routine that you use to begin each day can do wonders for your motivation. An effective morning routine will help you wake up, start doing the things you need to do, and get you in the right mindset for success.
Also, having a morning routine means you don’t need to make decisions when you get up. You only have limited willpower to use over the course of a day, and using it to decide whether you should eat breakfast or take a shower means you’ve used up a valuable resource that’s hard to get back. Turning decisions into habits significantly reduces the amount of willpower you need to use before you get to the tasks where it’s more useful.
Getting yourself out of bed is the first step to a solid morning routine, but it can also be the hardest. If you find it difficult to get out of bed — or you have a tendency to hit the snooze button three or four times into silence — you might want to consider changing your alarm.
Akshata mentioned some cheeky alarm clocks in her article on simple ways to build your morning routine, but you don’t need one that shreds your money or runs away until you turn it off. Instead, you can use something like Mathe Alarm Clock (iOS, free) or Puzzle Alarm Clock (Android, free) to get your brain working. Solve math or logic problems as soon as you wake up to get your neurons firing and get you motivated to get out of bed.
If you’d rather not do math, Memory Alarm Clock (iOS, free) makes you solve memory puzzles to turn off the alarm.
You can also try out Barcode Alarm Clock (iOS, free), which makes you scan the barcode of your toothpaste, a box of cereal, coffee creamer, or anything else to turn the alarm off (Puzzle Alarm Clock for Android has similar functionality).
Alarmy (Android, free) proudly declares that it’s the world’s most annoying alarm app — it forces you to take the same picture that you previously took with the app (like of your sink or shower) to turn it off.
Or you could just use Alarmify (iOS, free) to fire up a Spotify playlist.
Use Music to Your Advantage
Speaking of Spotify playlists, music can actually be a great help in the morning. Quite a few successful people who have shared their morning routines spend some of the time listening to music that sets the tone for the day. So put together a great playlist and fire it up in the morning!
If you’re not sure what to put on your Wake Up playlist, Spotify can help. Their Wake Up Happy playlist has over 400,000 followers, and includes a lot of great waking-up songs from artists like Owl City, Olly Murs, Grimes, and Avicii. You can also check out this playlist that was developed in conjunction with a music psychologist.
Of course, you can always just whip up your own playlist. You can fill it with songs that get you motivated, or you can use it as a timer; figure out about how long it takes you to eat breakfast, brush your teeth, do your hair, pack up your gear, and so on, and include songs that will tell you if you’re on track to get going at the right time.
Whether it’s getting out of bed, getting out the door, or sitting down on your computer to start working, a little inspiration will help. Since you’re unlikely to just head out and look for it, why not let the inspiration come to you? For example, you might be able to set up an IFTTT recipe to text you an inspirational quote every morning, for example.
My personal method for doing this is to keep a “Motivation” board on Pinterest that contains pictures and quotes that help me get going in the morning. I whipped up a quick AppleScript to make my browser open with that board every morning before I get up, so when I log onto my computer, the first thing I see is a collection of motivational pictures.
You can also find inspiration in some very successful people’s morning routines with My Morning Routine, a website and newsletter that shares some routines from writers, entrepreneurs, frequent travelers, parents, and others. They’re even split into categories like “Early Risers,” “Morning Exercise,” and “Yoga and Meditation.” You can get a new one every Wednesday in your inbox or just browse the archives to see how some successful people get fired up for the day.
Speed Up Your Morning Tasks
A morning ritual can take a long time if you have a lot of things that you like to do before you get going, but there are many ways you can speed up the things that you do so you can spend less time preparing and more time doing
If you like to read the news, for example, Yahoo News Digest (iOS, Android, free) is a great way to see what’s going on around the world in small bites. You can get caught up without having to skim through longform articles on the day’s happenings.
A minimal weather app like Weather (Android, Free) or Wild Weather (iOS, $1.99) will show you what the forecast says without a lot of extra stuff.
Flipboard (iOS, Android, Free) is a good way to get caught up on a lot of your social networks quickly; you can just flip through the big posts and see what you missed without spending 15 minutes on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
And if you just can’t keep moving, try logging your time for a day using an app like ATracker (iOS, Lite or $4.99). You’ll see just how much time you spend reading the news and your social media feeds in bed.
You’ll be inspired to cut that time down and get moving!
Get blood flowing throughout your body and you will feel less sluggish after you wake up. It doesn’t need to be an entire workout, but you should move your body somehow. Even a quick five-minute stretch guided by an app like 5-Minute Yoga (iOS, free) or a five-minute workout from Daily Workouts (Android, free) will help.
Even just a single stretch and some deep breathing can do wonders for getting you up and moving.
An Argument Against Hacking Your Morning Routine
Interestingly, a lot of people recommend doing the exact opposite of hacking your morning routine with technology: minimizing screen time in the first 30 or 60 minutes of your morning. Much of this argument is based on the fact that most of the things you do early in the morning on your phone or tablet don’t help you get off to a great start.
For example, looking at Facebook can make you depressed (or at least get you distracted from what you’re supposed to be doing), and checking email can be stressful.
Instead, start the day off by indulging in something you love to do. For example, read a book while you drink coffee. Or spend some time doodling before you eat breakfast. Sit and enjoy some music. Whatever your passions are, spend some time with them in the morning to start the day off on the right foot.
How Do You Set Up Your Morning Routine?
Everyone’s morning routine is different, and the path to optimizing it is different in every case.
Just remember that if you want to improve your morning routine, your best bet is to take it one step at a time. Don’t try to change everything at once; just pick one new habit at a time and stick to it.
How do you make your morning routine most effective? Do you use any apps or websites to help you? Share your favorites below so we can all improve our routines!