"Win the morning, Win the Day"
How many of you make the mistake of scrolling through social media, reading through news articles, or just lying in bed when you first wake up.
This week I started putting a greater emphasis on improving my morning routine. What you do in the morning I would argue is the single most important indicator of how you spend the rest of your day.
We all know the brief rushes of satisfaction we get from reaching a goal or checking off a box on a to-do list. The concept of a reward motivating you to complete a task is not an unfamiliar concept for any of us.
The reward pathway in our brain learns to associate those feelings with the memory of how we got them (that is how addictions work). So by attempting to be productive from the moment you wake up, you are feeding your body's addiction to be productive for the rest of the day.
A second focus your mornings could include is getting in the right headspace. This could be just 20 minutes of meditation. There are so many studies done on meditation and correlating the results with an increase in productivity. I won't go into the details, but will just share an overview of how meditation can improve your life.
The goal of meditation is to reach a state of awareness and engagement with the present moment. Practicing mediation builds the skill of being able to focus on just one task at a time. One statistic points out that the average person spends almost 50% of their waking hours thinking about something besides their current task. Meditation also increases your brain's gray matter; the area of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, planning, and problem-solving — as well as increasing the cortical thickness, which is responsible for learning and memory. So by meditating, you can better channel your entire brain on efficiently completing your present task, while also increasing your brain's ability to solve problems.
If you are like me and I do not understand where to start, there are plenty of apps and websites that can both go into greater depth about mediation if you are interested, and guide you through mediation sessions.
Put it to Practice
Some steps to follow if you want to step up your morning routine. These are some suggestions and the order and number of steps you incorporate is up to you.
- Wake up an hour before going you need to get online - I came across this idea from the podcast episode "Morning Routines and Strategies" by Tim Ferriss. Even if you do not get distracted by technology, by spending the beginning of the day offline you will most likely feel more focused and at ease.
- Journal - A great habit to get into is to just spend five minutes journaling. The content of your journaling is pretty much up to you, but some ideas are your goals for the day, creative ideas for school or work projects, or just your thoughts at the moment.
- Todo list - This one's like journaling, but taking five minutes to write a list of tasks you want to complete for the day is a significant step to completing them. Remember when writing out tasks, including actions words like "go on a walk", make you more likely to complete it than simply writing "walk". If you would prefer to go paperless, you could also use a to-do list app of your choice. (I use TickTick, but I've also tried and enjoyed the far more popular Todoist)
- Check off some tasks - The next step is to take action. Check off some boxes on your to-do list (avoid the ones that involve technology for now), do a workout, do some simple actions like read a book, fold your bed, etc....
- Start your work for the day - After going through 30 minutes to an hour of tech-free activities (you'll be surprised at how much you can accomplish with the distraction of your phone computer), start the rest of your day, already addicted that feeling of productivity.