Are you slow to get started in the morning? Do you often feel disappointed and guilty because you’ve got very little done by lunchtime? Then perhaps it’s time to rethink the way you ‘morning’!
Here are our six suggestions for making your morning more productive.
Start Your Morning the Night Before
It’s easy to waste time on slow, bleary-eyed tasks and decisions that you could have completed far more quickly and efficiently the night before. So much of our mornings can be wasted because we lack direction.
So, my best tip for a productive morning is: Start it the night before.
- Hang a set of clothes on a hanger for the next day
- Prepare or pack any lunch or snacks you’ll need the next day
- Ensure everything you’ll need to start work or travel to your workplace is already in your office/workshop/bag
- Ensure any files you need are already loaded up on your laptop/tablet or your One Drive/Dropbox/cloud storage of choice.
- Perhaps most importantly, plan what you want/need to achieve the next morning (and preferably the rest of the day too). That way, you won’t spend half your morning dithering about what to do first. As with all goals and to-do lists, make sure your tasks are broken down into specific, small steps that are easy to action and quick to achieve.
Let Your Routine Take Responsibility
Instead of making decisions at a time of day when you may not be at your best, let a routine take the strain. Think about what’s really essential and ensure you have a routine that takes you seamlessly from one essential activity to the other – and ultimately, to your workspace, ready to work.
Keep it short and simple, but don’t be tempted to leave out anything, however small, that you need to do every morning. Once your body and mind are trained to automatically go on to the next thing, the whole process of getting up and ready for your working day will be smoother.
Fuel Your Body, Fuel Your Mind
Have a coffee if you must, but make space for a fruit juice or water too. Coffee can be dehydrating, and your brain and body work best if they’re well hydrated. Avoid sugar-laden drinks or cereals that will give you a sugar high followed by a mid-morning slump; instead, try to include some protein, such as eggs or yogurt, and slow burning carbs such as wholemeal toast.
They will provide slow-release energy to get you through the morning.
Have a Starting Time and Stick to It
If you work from home – or if you work somewhere else, but there’s nobody waiting there with one eye on the clock – it’s easy to let your intended start time slip.
You’re just about to retreat to your office and the post arrives. Do you have the willpower to leave it on the mat or do you let curiosity (and the little voice that whispers “it’ll only take a couple of minutes”) persuade you to open it there and then?
The laundry basket’s overflowing. The dishwasher needs emptying. You need to answer that email from school… these are all things you could and should ignore until your lunch break, or even better, the end of the day.
Don’t let non-urgent tasks eat into your morning and delay your start time. Set a start time for your working day, and unless you have a time-specific planned activity occurring, stick to it. Ensure you’re ‘at work’ for your start time, just as you would be if you were employed.
I mean this literally. Do some exercise! This doesn’t have to mean a time-consuming trip to the gym with its accompanying travel time and heavy duty showering commitments. A ten-minute workout, yoga session or a brisk walk round the block will do. Your mind, body and brain will all feel better for it.
Tackle Your Most Terrible Task
It’s so easy to let yourself off this one, isn’t it? “I’ll tackle that when I’m more awake/prepared/in the groove,” you tell yourself.
Yet deep down, you know that your Terrible Task will play on your mind, distracting you from your other work and filling you with dread. Come lunchtime, it’s easy to persuade yourself that now, you may as well do it after lunch – ensuring you share your lunchbreak with that worst of lunch companions, Dread.
This is Not Good. Your lunchbreak should be a time to relax and revive yourself, so try to get in the habit of tackling your toughest task first.
Whatever time of day you’re reading this, you can do something positive right now to make your next morning productive. Spend 5 minutes planning tomorrow’s work, yank those gym clothes out the of the tumble drier and put them at the end of your bed or pop tomorrow’s water bottle and banana in your bag.
And if you’re reading this in the morning because you’re procrastinating… I challenge you to go and tackle your most undesirable task of the day right now!