Don’t you love that feeling you get on days when you’re super productive and check everything off your to do list? I do too but sometimes I struggle with procrastination. In the past, I’ve had a hard time focusing and would end up putting off important tasks and using my time inefficiently. This wasted time and lack of productivity would result in frustration and anxiety at the end of the day as I looked back and realize how little I actually accomplished. At the top of the New Year I made a commitment to solve this problem and one trick that has helped me tremendously is transforming the way I spend my mornings. Research has shown that our energy level, attention span and focus is greatest in the morning so how you start your morning off often sets the tone for your entire day. I began incorporating five simple activities into my morning routine that have become a ritual and I try to accomplish these within 45 minutes of waking up. These are the five rituals that have helped me to become much more focused and productive and have made my mornings much more enjoyable!
There are a ton of proven benefits to meditation. From reduced stress and improved mood to better sleep, boosted creativity and enhanced mental focus. I dabbled with meditation in the past but it wasn’t until I committed to doing it daily that I began to feel all of the positive side effects. I practice mindfulness meditation using a guided app called Headspace which helps train your mind to eliminate distractions and be present. I like this style of meditation because it enables me to clear my mind, focus on my breathing and appreciate the stillness. Not only do I feel more centered and balanced after I meditate, it also helps me to approach my day with a clear head so my focus is sharper throughout the day. I’m also less susceptible to distractions which helps increase my productivity.
2. MAKING MY BED
I used to feel that if no one ever sees my messy bed but me, making my bed wasn’t super important. So on most days, especially when I was in a rush, making my bed was the last of my worries. It was my dirty little secret! But a while back I read that people who make their beds are happier and more productive. The reasoning is that the act of making your bed is one tiny thing within your control that gives you a sense of accomplishment… and by checking off this first to-do of the day you’re motivated to continue this string of productivity and accomplish the next task, and the next task and so on. It also helps your space feel more organized and by clearing out this visual clutter, your space and your mind are less distracted too. Essentially, “the state of your bed is the state of your head.” Simple yet powerful.
3. EATING A BALANCED BREAKFAST
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and even though I know this to be true, I always used to skip breakfast. I never had time or I would roll straight into a work flow so eating just wasn’t a priority. Recently I committed to eating a simple breakfast every single day. I alternate between four simple meals that take 5 minutes or less to make. I’ll either have eggs and toast, avocado toast, instant oatmeal or a protein shake. A key benefit of eating a balanced breakfast is that it gives you energy plus sustains your concentration and memory throughout the day. Eating breakfast has also become one of my most enjoyable rituals. If I have the extra time, I’ll also make a cup of coffee or add-on a breakfast meat and enjoy a delicious meal while I organize my thoughts, journal and think through a plan of action for the day.
4. TAKING MY VITAMINS
Taking the right combo of daily vitamins for your body can do wonders for your energy level and mood. It also helps boost your overall health by giving your body essential nutrients that you may be lacking in your diet. I recently started trying a new vitamin subscription service called Ritual which simplifies my vitamin intake by offering one multivitamin with the 9 essential ingredients women lack the most and is designed so that your body will absorb these ingredients better than with a conventional vitamin. I take this with my breakfast and it’ such a simple, low-effort addition to my daily routine to help keep me going throughout the day.
5. GRATITUDE JOURNALING
Gratitude and more specifically, keeping a gratitude journal, is an important component to a mindfulness practice and research proves that expressing our gratitude makes us happier, more productive people. When I first heard of the idea, a journal sounded like one more useless thing that I would never have the time for but then I discovered a journaling app called the Five Minute Journal that makes this practice so easy. (There’s also a physical notebook version.) In the morning it prompts me to write down three things I’m grateful for, three things I will do to make the day awesome and one daily affirmation. In the evening it prompts me to fill in three amazing thing that happened that day and one thing I could have done to make the day better. Simple enough, right? Journaling has provided clarity on what is most important to me and has helped me appreciate everything and everyone around me so much more. I love kick starting my day in a positive mood and these heightened feelings of positivity and optimism help me conquer my day with enthusiasm.
So that’s it! The five morning rituals I swear by that help me have the best, most productive day ever. Of course, I’m human, so sometimes I don’t always follow through on all five of these things daily. But if I can check off two or three of them at a minimum, I still feel like I’ve won my day. If you struggle with creating positive habits, a great book to check out is The Power of Habit. What are your morning rituals? If you have any great tips or hacks that help you win your day I’d love to hear about them!