How you wake up in the morning and what you do with your time before work can really set the productivity tone for the rest of the day. That’s why it’s so important to have a positive morning routine that works for you. Successful people across differing industries such as marketing guru Seth Godin, basketball player Kobe Bryant, and Richard Branson are all early risers and have established their own unique morning routine to help them maximize their energy and productivity throughout the day. On the flip side, productivity expert Tim Ferriss and President Obama and are late risers and night owls.
We wanted to know more on the morning routines and strategies of Irish professionals and here are the results.
Morning Routines & Strategies: The Results
What time do you get up at?
Our findings showed 45% of Irish professionals who participated in our survey get up between 6-7 am and another 45% started their day between 7-8am. Only 10% of professionals began their day between 4-6 am.
Which of the following form part of your morning routine?
In relation to morning activities, eating breakfast, partaking in some form of exercise, checking emails, social media and reading the news are the top 5 activities conducted by Irish professionals as part of their morning routine.
So, is there an optimal morning routine?
The answer really is no, you need to find the morning routine that works best for you. The majority of successful leaders all have established morning rituals unique to them that maximise their energy, productivity, and creativity all day. That said, if you want to make changes to optimise your routine, there are a few important elements that many successful people include as part of their day to have a productive morning.
1. Eliminate decision-making tasks in the morning
Decision fatigue is a real thing that can over burden people first thing in the morning. It starts in the morning with hitting the snooze button (or not), what do you eat, when should you leave for work? When should you have lunch? Should you go to the gym? The interesting thing with decisions is that when you make them, you actually expend mental energy. If you make a lot of decisions in a short a time frame, you significantly reduce your decision-making ability. Many business leaders in the past have commented extensively on this and Steve Jobs famously always wore the same outfit every day, so it was one less decision he had to make and he could focus his attention on making Apple’s products legendary.
By planning the night before what you would like to accomplish the next day, you can limit the number of decisions you need to make the next day and have more energy to focus on more important things. So, decide on your outfit in advance, plan for, and make the majority of your meals the same every day, schedule exercise in your calendar as a recurring event, and if in a leadership position, delegate the first-pass of most decisions to your subordinates and then meet with them to review their decisions and bounce ideas around.
2. Get Moving!
A study conducted at the University of Bristol discovered that people who exercise during the workday reported having improved moods and an increased ability to deal with the demands of work. Joe Coulson, who is one of the researchers involved in the study, stated, “It’s generally well-known now that there are many physical and mental health benefits that can be gained from regular exercise. If people try to fit an active break into their working day, they might also experience the added bonus of their whole day feeling much more productive.”
If you already have a regular exercise routine, try moving it to the beginning of the day. Exercise has knock-on effects so, after your workout, you will see benefits such as improvement in your mood, and increased your productivity levels that will last throughout the rest of the day.
3. Remind yourself of your goals
A simple thing to do every morning that will help you feel happier and more focused on where you are, and where you want to go. There are several ways of doing this but we outline two key options below:
- Affirmations. These are repeatable phrases which describe the person you would like to become. Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, attributed his success to the writing of daily affirmations in his lifetime.
- Visualization. Visualization is one of the most powerful mind exercises you can do. According to the popular book The Secret, “The law of attraction is forming your entire life experience and it is doing that through your thoughts. Imagine yourself in the process of accomplishing the things you want to accomplish, enjoying a beautiful day. Visualize, and imagine the feelings that you would experience.
4. Don’t let your email own you
The majority of us would be guilty of checking our screens before we have even got out of bed. From our findings 46% of Irish professionals check their emails as part of their morning routine. The issue with this activity is that this often gets us off to a bad start–responding and reacting to other people’s agendas rather than setting our own course for the day. Try waiting until you’re in the office to check your email and social media accounts and have more control on how you want to start your day rather than being influenced by others.
5. Clear your mind and concentrate
Introducing practices such as meditation, yoga or simply sitting quietly having a cup of coffee in the morning for 10-15 minutes can help clear your mind and focus. From our findings, 28% of Irish professionals take part in meditation as part of their morning routine and the scientific proof on the benefits of meditation is growing. Meditation isn’t necessarily about sitting cross-legged on the floor for a full hour. Five short minutes of meditation, practiced regularly, will grant you the same benefits.
The following are two apps that can guide you at the beginning:
- Headspace (Great user experience and design)
6. Take time to write
Even if just for a few minutes, the benefits of writing each morning can really help you. From our findings just under 10% of Irish professionals do this as part of their routine but there are many benefits in taking the time in your morning to write. It allows you to assess your present state, and to refocus on what is important.
You can, for example:
- Write down three things for which you feel grateful
- Write down your current thoughts and reflections
- Write down what you’d like to accomplish in the day
- Write down your long term goals or affirmations
- Jot down one thing you have recently learned or an idea you had
Writing each morning can help you feel more focused on your goals and vision, but can also attribute to your level of happiness. Writing gratitudes can have a powerful impact on your level of joy and creative thinking/problem-solving. Doing this exercise can also help you catalog your progress and all the positive things in your life.
Morning routines and strategies can vary significantly from person to person. Take the time to find your own unique morning strategy and document it, so that it is clear in your mind. In doing this you give yourself the opportunity of starting every day, not by being late and building your stress levels, but by taking care of yourself, getting your fill of motivation, and feeling determined to make the most of the day ahead.