Do each of your mornings start off with you slapping the snooze for the third time, then putting a pillow over your head? If you always get a sluggish start, the idea of being productive in the morning might sound laughable. You can barely convince yourself to brush your hair and put on your shirt the right-side-in, let alone get a good portion of your to-do list finish. But being on top of your game in the a.m. doesn't have to mean diving into tricky projects or creating dizzying outlines of action steps. You can do little things here and there (and some of them even fun!) that will make you walk into work feeling like you've already got a lot accomplished.
And the bonus of making your morning routine work for you is that it will help you inch your career along. Think about it: If you woke up 30 minutes earlier and knocked off a couple of things from your list each morning, how much further ahead would you be by the end of the month? The end of the year? It could be a game changer. So let's get started. Below are 11 things productive people do every morning — you can be one of them.
1. Set Down A Game Plan The Night Before
Make sure you bounce into your morning with a to-do list handy that you drafted the night before. Angelina Darrisaw, an international business and career coach, tells Bustle in an email, "This can be done the night before. Think through what you wanted to accomplish that day and didn't. What is a must do for the next day to be successful? Write out a plan for the next day and have some objectives and focus for the next day. Didn't get it done the night before? Then use some time to focus the next morning to make sure your day has a plan." That way you always hit the ground running.
2. Look Ahead At Your Calendar
It's also a good idea to take a peek at your upcoming day while making that first pot of coffee. Darrisaw elaborates, "Knowing what you have coming up each day and even the day following can help you mentally prepare, as well as make other necessary preparations sooner rather than later. Late meetings? You may need to cancel a dinner date or let a spouse know. Big meeting with a senior leader? You may want to dress more formally or wear the thing they gave you at the last holiday gift exchange. Look ahead and prepare early." This way you walk into the day knowing all your bases are covered and nothing sneaks up on you.
3. Network With Your Coffee
Put that first morning sip of coffee to work by drafting some productive emails while you settle into the day. Vicki Salemi, Career Expert for Monster, recommends to Bustle in an email, "Follow up with networking contacts regarding potential jobs. Especially since you shouldn't be job hunting at work during office hours, the pre-work morning hours are the perfect time to refresh connections to keep yourself in the game." Take the a.m. as the perfect chance to follow up with any new social media connections, new links, or interesting industry players.
Salemi continues, "Prior to starting your workday, reach out to people on the list with a quick message to follow up on a conversation you had at an industry event, tap into their network to get an introduction or schedule a coffee meeting." You'll go into work feeling accomplished and forward-marching.
4. Do An Activity That Will Get You Jazzed
You can also spend a portion of the morning doing something that makes you excited to start a new day. Darrisaw suggests, "A morning can set the tone for the day. If you start it looking at email or social media, you might end up drained before you even leave your bedroom. Do something that gets positive energy going for you. That could mean a brief workout, reading a book you enjoy, or doing a free-write. Find an activity that is stress free for you and spend a bit of time with it each morning." This way you won't feel like the whole day will be work, work, work.
5. Focus On Your Energy
I personally am most creative in the morning, writing a mile a minute with my first cup of coffee. But by the evening? You couldn't force me to get an interesting paragraph down on paper. Because of that, I get all of my creative writing done in the AM while focusing on research or answering emails towards the end of the work day. Take that example into account and see what you yourself are most equipped to tackle right after rolling out of bed. Business writer James at Entrepreneur asked, "What type of energy do you have in the morning? What task is that energy best suited for?" Build your routine around that.
6. Wake Up Early!
Rather than slapping the alarm clock off 30 minutes before you have to whirlwind out the apartment door, aim to wake up an hour or two earlier so you can get more stuff done. Business writer Jenna Goudreau at entrepreneur site Inc explained, "Successful people know that time is a precious commodity. And while theirs is easily eaten up by phone calls, meetings, and sudden crises once they've gotten to the office, the morning hours are under their control. That's why many of them rise before the sun, squeezing out as much time as they can to do with as they please." Whether that's for working on a passion project, yoga, or unwinding, the earlier you rise the more you can get done.
7. Inspire Yourself
Motivation doesn't come in a never-ending container, so spend your AM looking at content that will inspire you to reach far and big. Lifestyle writer Lianne Laroya from Lifehack offered, "Spend 30 minutes listening to inspirational anecdotes and empowering quotes." Watch TedTalks, look up success stories in your industry, follow bloggers that are highly motivated and upbeat — fill up on that good energy.
8. Create A "Trigger"
Are you a slow starter when it comes to the morning? Signal to your brain that it's time to roll up your sleeves and get cracking by creating a kind of "trigger." Clear explained, "This tiny routine signals to your brain that it’s time to get into work mode or exercise mode or whatever mode you need to be in to accomplish your task." Whether it's reaching for a certain coffee cup, putting on the kettle, or taking out a particular notebook, setting up a marker will help you fall into step faster.
9. Start Off With Your Biggest Project
If you like to eat your cinnamon oatmeal and begin tinkering with work, forgo answering emails and doing menial housekeeping tasks and instead jump into the meat of it. Goudreau suggested, "The quiet hours of the morning can be the ideal time to focus on an important work project without being interrupted. What's more, spending time on it at the beginning of the day ensures that it gets your attention before other use it up."
10. Make Sure Your Schedule Is Pushing You Forward
Take a beat in the morning to not only check if your schedule is up to date, but if you have action steps in it that move your career forward. Laroya recommended, "Take at least 10 minutes of your day to visualize your life goals, review your tasks." That way you're not just tackling to-dos day after day, but working on projects that move you closer to those promotions and exciting changes.
11. Bookmark It For Your Guilty Pleasures
It can be hard to find wiggle room for guilty pleasures during busy weeks — but if you wake up a smidge earlier than usual, you can easily find an hour to dedicate to your hobby or project. Goudreau pointed out, "Novel-writing and art-making are easy to skip when you've been in meetings all day, are tired and hungry, and have to figure out what's for dinner. That's why many successful people put in an hour or so on their personal projects before they officially start their days." So take your cup of tea and update your blog, edit your pictures, or continue working on that needlepoint — whatever it is, you have the time for it.
Follow these simple tips, and your morning will feel more productive than ever.