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Picture this: As you brush your teeth before heading to bed, you mentally review how your day went. You come to a stark realisation that none of the important things you set out to do were actually accomplished. Perhaps you planned to finish some piece of work, get in your daily exercise, or complete household chores. When you realise how much more productive you could have been, you start to feel the familiar tinge of regret and spit out your toothpaste, and vow to do better tomorrow. But the next day, you find yourself staring at the exact same situation.
Many people set themselves up for failure simply by starting the day off on the wrong foot and letting it spiral into unproductivity and weariness throughout the day. To avoid this, here are five tips you can incorporate to make your mornings awesome and lead a more productive day.
#1 START IT RIGHT THE NIGHT BEFORE
Every little task seems to be more onerous when you are groggy and grumpy early in the morning. So why not set yourself up for success by laying the groundwork for a great day the night before?
Plan your mornings so you don’t get frazzled even before the day really starts. Pick out your work outfits or exercise clothes the night before. Have your breakfast pre-packed, bags ready to go, your mobile phone charged, and your wallet and watch at the same convenient place. Write a note of important things you have to do in the morning, especially if it’s outside your normal routine. Of course, tuck into bed early to get your seven hours of quality sleep.
Putting in a little extra effort the night before can go a long way in minimising the number of things that may mess up your schedule first thing in the morning.
#2 MAKE IT A ROUTINE
We’ve all probably heard of Mark Zuckerberg’s choice to wear the same outfit every day. Personal preference aside, there is actually a lot of logic to this habit.
Studies have shown that decision fatigue is real. We all have a finite amount of mental energy for making decisions before we start choosing the path of least resistance. By having a routine in place, you remove the need to keep making the same choices every day, especially when they are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
Having a routine should not equate to inflexibility. In fact, you should also adjust your routine as your priorities and goals change. If your aim is to get fitter by the end of the year, then you should probably plot in more exercise slots in your routine. If it’s near crunch time at work, then you might want to optimise the amount of rest you get to ensure you can perform your best.
#3 EAT A PROPER BREAKFAST
Cars run on fuel; computers run on electricity; and people on food. Using the same analogy, you also have to ensure that you eat a sufficient amount of good quality food to perform at your best.
There is nothing more unproductive than to be interrupted mid-morning by hunger pangs. An added benefit of a delicious breakfast is that it lifts your mood too!
Researchers have found that people who do physical exercise with some regularity enjoy multiple benefits. It doesn’t even need to be long or tiring. Even a 15-minute bodyweight workout at home or taking a brisk walk and enjoying the fresh morning breeze improves your physical health, does wonders for your ability to manage stress and improves your productivity.
#5 TACKLE THE MOST CHALLENGING WORK FIRST
While we have limited control over many things that may happen in your day, we generally have more control over our mornings. This makes it a good idea to tackle critical tasks first.
Otherwise, once interruptions and requests come in, you might end up being derailed and not accomplish what really matters.