Have you ever found yourself wishing for more hands or more hours in the day? We've all been there. I used to think I was so busy until I had kids, now I really feel busy, but the truth is, we all have time for the things we want to do. It takes some intentional practice but busy doesn't always mean productive or happy.
The morning hours are generally the time when our bodies and brains are most awake and receptive to work and getting stuff done. Whether you identify as a "morning person" or not, there are some proven practices that you can incorporate into your day to maximize productivity, starting with your morning routine. It's been said that how you approach the first hour of your day dictates how the remaining 23 will go. What type of person are you?
Do you hit the snooze repeatedly, drag yourself out of bed exhausted, race around trying to get ready and find your belongings, and rush out the door late?
Or, do you wake up feeling refreshed, get yourself ready with ease, and start your day with excitement?
If you fall into the the category of people who find it hard to wake in the morning and it's affecting your mood, relationships or productivity, there are steps that you can take to change these outcomes.
1) Decide what you need to accomplish each day.
Before you start any day, you need to know what your non-negotiables are. These are the things that MUST be done every day. Eat. Brush teeth. Take kids to school. Exercise. Work. Everyone has the same 24 hours each day to get done the things that they need to get done. It comes down to knowing your non-negotiables and scheduling them into your day.
2) know what you are and aren't willing to do.
Once you know what your non-negotiables are, you need to understand how much time you need to devote to each one. Ask yourself what MUST get done in the morning before you leave for work or school, and ask yourself if you're willing to wake up an hour earlier to get those things done. What things are left to fit into the end of your day? You might WANT to catch up on your favorite episodes on Netflix, but if you aren't WILLING to miss you favorite workout class or child's basketball game, then it will need to wait. It comes down to choices, and as harsh as it might sound, being an adult means making the hard choices to live the life you want.
This is a necessary step in maximizing your time to accomplish those things that are most important to you.
3) Plan ahead.
If you aren't naturally a morning person, planning ahead can save you a lot of frustration. Take inventory of what you need for the next day and prep the night before, like school lunches, taking a shower, or laying out your workout or work clothes for the day.
4) Set an alarm.
There are 2 types of people, those that SNOOZE and those that don't. Hopefully, you're compatible with your significant other in this category! If you are a snoozer, set your alarm earlier than when you need to wake up. Allow yourself 1 snooze and then get up. OR ditch the snooze all together and put your alarm on a dresser or chair away from your bed so you must get up to turn it off.
5) Avoid checking emails.
If it is outside work hours, do not check your email first thing in the morning. This could potentially derail your whole morning if you haven't yet started your other "must do" morning tasks. The only exception to this rule is if you scheduled time into your morning routine to check emails and prioritized it above other activities.
6) Take your breakfast to go.
The first meal I eat each day is my superfood shake post-workout. It's packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, probiotics, adaptogens, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats. It's a complete meal made in a convenient to-go cup so that I get all the benefits without the hassle of having to sit down to eat or clean multiple dishes after.
7) Turn the dishwasher on at night, so dishes are clean and ready to be put away when you wake in the morning.
Nothing derails my morning than coming downstairs to a sink full of dirty dishes. If you take the time to rinse and run them in the dishwasher the night before, you'll have clean dishes to use the next day without the stress of having to clean them before preparing any meals.
8) Spend 5 minutes on showing gratitude.
This is a simple daily practice that can help you set a positive mindset and cultivate happiness in your life. It can be as simple as being thankful to wake up and have air in your lungs. Get your kids and partner involved and make it a daily family ritual.
9) Listen to a personal development podcast in the car.
As a rule of thumb, spend 20-30 minutes each day on personal development. Podcasts are a great way to do this and are perfect for parents who don't get a moment to sit down and read but DO have a few minutes waiting in the school drop off/pick up line or on the drive to work. There are thousands of podcasts to meet your interests, browse iTunes or on the Apple Podcasts app to get started!
10) Time block your day.
This is an advanced practice and may sound overwhelming at first, but time blocking your non-negotiables is the best way to ensure they happen while allowing you the most time to get it all done. You can start with 15 minute increments and get as granular as you need to. The objective is to schedule time for the things that must get done, help you stay focused on each task, and avoid falling victim to time sucks like scrolling social media mindlessly or wandering the aisles of Target. I know, I've been there. This is not to say you cannot do those things! This ensures that you have MORE space to play and do ALL. THE. THINGS. because you are prioritizing and making time for the things you need to. If it doesn't serve you or your goals, then it shouldn't be taking space up in your day.
Good bye excuses that you don't have time to exercise or eat a healthy meal or volunteer if those are the things you want to do, you make time for them! There will never be more hours in the day. There are so many ways we lose time with all the distractions around us. Following these steps will help you get into the driver seat of your own life instead of you feeling like life is just happening to you.
I'd love to know how these tips work for you or if you have any others to share! Leave your comments below.