If you’ve been into self-improvement at all you’ll hear things like ‘the morning is the most productive time of the day’. I’m guilty of saying that as well. Time and again, I mention in my posts that what you do in the morning really matters. It sets the tonne for the rest of your day.
If you spend all of your time on social media, soaking up bad news, you’ll develop a negative outlook of the world. On the other side, doing things you love and enjoy will let you see things in a positive way.
But more importantly, if you do productive things in the morning, you’ll be sure to have one of the most productive days amongst other individuals.
The tricky part to that is that what sort of things are considered productive in the morning? Well, here are some activities you can do to get the most productive day yet.
The first liquid that you should be ingesting every morning is water. Our bodies depend heavily on water and I know for most people they skip out on it opting for coffee as their beverage to recharge.
I was never a big coffee drinker and whenever I had it, I’d be shaking the entire day. It’s insane that many individuals around me consume several cups of coffee over the course of the day.
Realizing that coffee really wasn’t working for me, I switched to water. These days, my primary drink is water.
For someone who drinks coffee a lot, the switch might not make much sense at first, but I would still challenge you to make that switch. After a good month or so, I think you’ll notice a massive difference in your energy levels over the course of the day.
I say that because from my experiences, when I used to drink coffee, I was wired in the morning and by the afternoon I was ready for a nap and exhausted.
But… Drink Coffee When You Really Need It
But while I’m a strong advocate for water, I know a lot of people can’t immediately go from drinking coffee to none at all. It was easy for me since I never was big on coffee and I only drank a single cup every day.
In light of that – plus something I’ll mention later in this post – it’s important you make the change gradual and enforce particular rules. These rules being:
- Drink water before having any coffee. Water is still an important liquid and can give you more benefits than coffee can first thing in the morning. You may also realize you don’t even need coffee after having a glass of water.
- Drink coffee only after you’ve eaten. Breakfast is important as well and will give you more energy than caffeine ever will.
- Avoid drinking it daily. If you need coffee, switch to decaf or even tea. These still have caffeine in them, but they are significantly reduced (hence the term decaf).
This is another staple for many productive lists and this one is no exception. Exercise on a regular basis is essential. Our bodies are not built to be sitting around all of the time. Every person can make time for exercise on a daily basis.
Gary Vaynerchuk, a man who catalogues his life and is constantly busy, manages to squeeze a one-hour training session with his trainer every day.
If he can do it, so can you.
Tackle The Hardest Task First
This is another common aspect that people do to be the most productive. Whether it’s learning new knowledge of online marketing or another topic, or working on a tough assignment or project, you want to do this.
This is something that I’ve started to get around to myself too. I make a point of handling my client work early in the morning rather than delaying it. This has allowed me the flexibility of my afternoon being more free to do what I like.
Along the same lines, it’s key that you spend your morning – where you have the most energy and commitment – to tackling the hardest thing. This allows you to not worry so much about that looming task that you dread.
Have Passion Projects
To get the most productive results, you need to have something that you are passionate about. Furthermore devoting some of your time to that project.
As for what this passion project can be, there are all sorts and it all starts with a question:
What are you most passionate to achieve in life?
Of course, the answer to that question is endless. However, it’s important that you at least pick one of those things to make a passion project out of. The upside is that these passion projects can directly tie into your work.
These passion projects can serve in many different ways:
- First, it can be a source of joy. And as I said at the start, if you are exposed to positivity early, you’ll be in a better mood over the day.
- Second, it allows you to have a purpose. Many people these days coast through life and end up with regrets later. I find the biggest issue is that either they never identified passions and/or bothered to put effort to achieve them.
- Third, it improves productivity. It’s obvious of course but combined with giving you a purpose and a source of joy, you can easily tie this back into other aspects of life. A cruddy job can make it more bearable if the money earned is going towards something you’re passionate about.
Develop A Slow And Steady Mindset
When it comes to productivity – or really most things in life – people want the results immediately. Some people put in minimal effort to achieve a goal they want immediately, or they try to rush ahead and try to get the absolute maximum out of something.
Both of those kind of attitudes are poor and will set you up for failure.
The former lacks any true commitment, and the latter is a way to make mistakes you won’t recognize until later.
Instead, it’s smarter to take a slow and steady mindset. What I mean by that is to set yourself up with the expectation that making massive changes in your life will happen when you go slow and steady.
Another way to look at this is that you want your progress to be gradual. Instead of doing a one-hour work out at home, aim for 15 minutes. Instead of forcing yourself up immediately at 6am when you’re used to 9 or 10 am, aim for 7 or 8 in the morning.
Our brain loves chunks and processing them and so if you take your progress in the same chunk sort of way, it’s easier to develop the habits and changes you want.
Spend Time With Family (Or Someone Close)
Many people encourage you spend a little bit of time in the morning with either your children, or your spouse/partner. That said, I know not many people have the luxury of doing that.
Instead, for those of us living the single life, I propose the next best thing: someone that you care about or have a close relationship with. Could be a family member (like your parents) or maybe a really good friend.
Whatever the case is, these particular times to connect can be helpful, they can serve as a reminder of what you are striving to achieve for in some situations. It further solidifies your why for pursuing a particular goal in life.
Make Your Bed
I remember seeing a video on this a few years ago about this particular habit. Also Charles Duhigg mentioned this in his book “The Power of Habit”. It’s a one-minute ritual that can make a significant impact on your life.
Duhigg wrote that while you won’t be the most productive person by making your bed, it can set up a chain reaction. This makes sense since you’re building a routine. In turn that same logic can apply to other habit building things. Which, of course, is what you’re doing with these activities.
I can also attest to its effectiveness as it’s helped me to get into the habit of writing first thing in the morning. Whether it’s client work or my own work, it doesn’t matter.
Find Your Wake Up Time
Another aspect that I find people get mixed up in is time. What is the most appropriate time for you to wake up?
Many entrepreneurs or self-improvement folks have said all kinds of things. It’s to the point that people assume everyone’s mornings are when the sun is rising up. In extreme cases, people have pushed hard for people to be up at 5am.
The truth of the matter is that not everyone is wired to do that.
It’s true that those who wake up early are generally more productive people, but not everyone is an early bird. Some people are “night owls” and find higher productivity late at night.
My cousin whom I live with is a night-shift worker at the local convenience store. He’s incredibly productive during those shift whereas most other individuals would struggle with those shifts consistently.
The whole point of this is to figure out the key question:
“When is the best time for you to be up?”
“What time of day is the time where you’ll have the most energy?”
You want to be uncovering that and begin leveraging it. If it means being up at 5am every day, do it. If you realize you get more stuff done late at night, make adjustments. Your most productive morning doesn’t necessarily equate to being productive when the sun is rising up.
Make As Few Decisions As You Can
Over the course of the day, we are bombarded with little questions. In fact, various sources suggest that adults make upwards of 35,000 decisions every single day.
What sort of food will you have for breakfast?
What tv show are you going to watch?
Are you going to cook or eat out tonight?
Who will you spend time with this morning or after work? What time?
When you start to consider that, you begin to notice just how many decisions we make in a day. Now, making decisions is fine. But in terms of productivity, this amount of decisions can be stifling. Even if these decisions happen in a matter of seconds.
In some situations those decisions can take longer. For example, whenever I dine out with my parents, it takes several minutes for us to make up our minds as we’re all indifferent to what we want to have.
For others, they can run into those situations with other aspects of their lives.
In light of all this, your mornings shouldn’t be riddled with these long and thought out decisions. Instead, steer your life in such a way that your decisions in the morning don’t require any thought at all.
Do you know why I only have primarily blue or green shirts? Because I don’t want to debate myself over what shirt I want to wear.
Wonder why I have the same breakfast every day? I purposely limit my options so I don’t have to think about what I’ll have. It’s the only option I have for breakfast that fits the diet I’m on.
These are small changes that you can make and it all comes down to limiting the number of options you have.
Don’t be afraid to stick to having the same meal for most of the week. You’ll grow used to it and mixing things up once in a while makes it nice.
Form some classic outfits for yourself and stick with one or two main colours for your outfits. Remove the guesswork of what you’ll wear every day.
When you limit things to options that you’d naturally gravitate to anyway, you’re saving yourself time. This way of thinking can move to other aspects of your life as well.
Avoid Social Media/Email As Your First Activity
When you get to work, many people instinctively jump to social media or their email. Don’t do that. As mentioned before, what you do first thing in the morning sets the tonne for the rest of the day.
And these days, social media is overly negative. Even my own feed, which I purposely stick to positive content, does manage to seep in political stuff, or some people sharing some bad news.
For me, I brush that stuff off, but I know others will milk that and be sad, depressed, angry or worried for the rest of the day. These emotions destroy any chance of having the most productive day you can have.
Furthermore, while email is tamer, we are bombarded with emails over the course of the day and often overnight. Unless you have a rigorous habit of clearing out your inbox on a daily basis, you can get lost in that.
And then you’re faced with so many decisions which can’t be good in the morning.
So like I mentioned in the previous point, make the decision to not open up social media or emails as your first activity of the day. Instead, switch to your passion project and find a way to not let it involve social media or checking your emails. After that activity is done, feel free to check social media and your emails.
While I do recommend avoiding social media, there are some exceptions. Particularly the smaller platforms. For example, I often turn to open up Quora first thing in the morning and answering some questions.
It is technically social media, however, you’re not exposed to feeds of negative comments or bad news. I’m greeted with various questions from people who want answers and I’m happy to provide information.
Have A Gratitude List
I tried writing down a gratitude list in the past and it does work. Though now I often have these in my head rather than in a document.
The point of a gratitude list is to list off the things you are grateful for in the day. These are very powerful as they serve as a constant reminder of where you are in life and that you’re happy for the things that are in your life.
This is so critical since if we lack appreciation for what we do have, we won’t be as appreciative of what we don’t have once we get it. A good example of this is cars. Many people associate cars with status and aim to have nicer and nicer cars.
While I’m not suggesting people sit and accept their spot in the world per se, but this lack of gratitude has led people down dangerous paths. Case and point, many people have gotten car loans and are in massive debt all so they can look higher class. All to impress people that might not even care that said person has a fancier car.
The costs outweighs the potential merit of having a newer car.
So I would encourage you to do one of the following:
- Make a gratitude list. List off the things that you are grateful for every day and try to mix it up a bit to add some variety.
- Take stock of your life right now and remind yourself daily what you are happy for in life and that you have.
These are the same thing, but the second option is something I do personally. I don’t need to write down things I’m grateful for. All I have to do is look around at my simple life and show appreciation for the life I’ve built thus far.
Have A To-Do List
Or have some sort of process to plan out your day. For me, I gravitate towards having a to-do list as it’s never failed me. It is my compass and is one of the most productive tools I’ve got.
It can be yours as well provided that you know how to put one together properly.
Having some form of plan is crucial and similarly to what was mentioned before, it removes the guesswork. You can do this first thing in the morning or plan it all out the night before.
Whichever way works for you, this creates a map for you to follow and ease into.
Every morning, spend a small amount of time with developing yourself. Some examples are:
- Read a book or a few articles pertaining to your industry.
- Meditate and learn more about yourself.
- Discover new motivations and inspirations through mediation.
- Visualize goals and what you’ll do to achieve them.
Development takes in different shapes and sizes. The key is spend time focusing on things that benefit you internally and can be used to benefit the world around you. All of these things can translate to other aspects around people.
Meditation helps you to understand people better.
Finding more motivation to do a project can allow you to steer the project in a way that benefits people further.
Knowing an “easier way” to achieve your goals can cause you to springboard forward and impact more around you.
Have A Cold Shower
Part of everyone’s routine is to take a morning shower of course. But I know that not many people love the idea of taking a cold shower. I know this because I’ve been taking cold showers off and on over the years.
I know how challenging taking a cold shower can really be.
That said, if you are someone who wants to get more productivity out of their morning or day, this can be another suitable option for you.
Cold showers bring a surprising amount of benefits to you. These including, burning unhealthy fat, increase blood flow and releases dopamine into your body.
It’s not something that one should be passing up provided they need it.
The Most Productive Day
I’ve come to realize that productivity is subjective. In terms of what makes a very productive day is wholly up to you. For me, it’s scratching things off a simple to-do list while sustaining the life I’ve built so far.
Of course I’d like more in my life, but I’m confident that my level of productivity is enough to achieve that. Even though I’m not constantly doing productive things.
The goal you want to achieve with these habits is have enough to kick-start your day right. These do a good job in doing that as my own application of these from time to time have given me direction. Direction that I definitely need during times I need it.
So consider these habits and apply them in your life in slow and steady spurts. Once you find a good batch to work around with, stick to them and have them form your morning ritual.
To your growth!
Eric S Burdon