A productive day starts with a productive morning. Okay, that’s obvious. But the answer to “what does a productive morning look like?” may not be so obvious. We’re giving you the pros and cons of 10 different activities to try before work so you can better decide which ones you’d like to try.
You know in movies when the main character is making a big decision and there’s an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other and they’re saying good and bad things about a decision, respectively? Well, that’s what this is. You’re the main character, you're deciding what does my productive morning look like? and for each morning activity below, we’ve laid out the pros and cons like two little people on your shoulder. Now it’s up to you to decide which morning activities are right for you.
Before we delve into the pros and cons of each activity, here’s the full list of 10 Activities to Try Each Morning Before Work we’ll be examining:
We’re starting off easy. You don’t have to fluff the pillows, but make things look nice and neat, at least.
You can’t be wasting time making your bed, what are you 5? By the time you wake up the next morning, it’s going to be messy again anyway.
Making your bed increases productivity and happiness and takes about 1 minute. That’s not a great deal whether you’re in a bed shaped like a spaceship or a regular (though less fun) adult bed. Charles Duhigg explains in The Power of Habit that this can spark “chain reactions that help other good habits hold” and instill you with a sense of pride. Essentially, the simple morning activity of placing a pillow back in its place gives you some productivity momentum that will carry into the rest of your day.
Step in the shower and keep your hands away from that hot water knob. Or just try ending your shower with 10 seconds of only cold water.
The best part about a shower is the warm water. Take that away and it’s like watching a movie with your eyes closed or swimming in a pool without water.
A 2016 study by Dr. Rhonda Patrick found that by putting your body into an uncomfortable situation (e.g. a cold shower), you trick your brain into releasing norepinephrine, a hormone that calms you down. This calmness, highly sought after by meditators and journalers alike, can have a positive impact on your mood, focus, and attention. Additionally, we all know a hot shower can help wake your body up and take you out of that early morning trance — so just imagine how good a cold shower will be at waking you up. Not to mention that cold water is great for your skin, so you can be productive and look good doing it.
Open your inbox, and start reading, replying, and deleting.
Email inboxes are notorious time-wasters; they’re like a digital-age Hydra: answer one email and two more appear.
Answering emails in the morning can actually save you time. Skimming your inbox can reveal urgent messages or tasks that will inform how you prioritize your to-do list for the day. And by the way, your email inbox doesn’t need to be an infinite stream of messages —get a head start before the workday starts and you might even achieve inbox zero (the benefits of which we spent an entire podcast episode discussing). If you need more convincing, take solace knowing that a survey of executives by Rober Half Management Resources found that 50% check their email before anything else, so you’re in good company.
Just what it sounds like! We’ll also include petting cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, fish, horses, or anything else that makes you happy.
There’s no reason not to do this. If you don’t have a puppy, imagine petting a puppy because that’s still pretty good, too.
If puppies were allowed on spaceships, you can bet Neil Armstrong’s spacewalk would’ve included a leash and dog walk and that’s all we have to say about that.
Find a quiet spot (this should be easy if everyone’s still sleeping), close your eyes, and focus on your breath for 5–10 minutes.
You’ve been breathing your whole life, you don’t need to set aside time to practice.
Of course, there are studies to show that meditation can reduce stress, boost energy, and increase productivity. But the coolest part about meditation is that helps prevent racing thoughts in the morning. Staying productive when your mind is going a mile a minute is as difficult as navigating a spaceship through a dangerous asteroid field. With meditation, you’ll learn to let ideas pass, slow down, and have a calm, relaxing morning to start your day feeling good. The Rocketbook Panda Planner even has a dedicated morning routine spot for meditation.
To see what it’s like to get started with meditation, we forced our co-founder to meditate for a week straight just for you. Despite first calling it “hocus pocus and a waste of time”, he ended up finding it useful and incorporated it into his routine.
Get your body moving after lying motionless for hours. Stretch out, go for a jog, or lift some weights — any exercise will do.
It’s too much to start moving before you’ve had your morning coffee. Oh, and what happened to meditating and keeping things slow and calm?
Getting your blood flowing has been shown time and time again to have physical benefits (obviously) and mental benefits (not-so-obviously). The released endorphins not only wake you up and improve your mood (obviously), but also speed up mental processes and improve memory (not-so-obviously). In fact, some studies suggest exercise is more effective than a cup of coffee.
Lastly, there’s plenty of online resources with exercises for beginners, but even some jumping jacks will do the trick — and you can keep track of your progress in a fitness journal using the Rocketbook Fusion.
Whether your working from home or trying to be productive on the weekend, choose your outfit as if you were going into the office.
You do your best work when you’re comfortable, and you're most comfortable with sweatpants on and your hair a mess.
Being comfortable is a good thing. Being too comfortable can be a bad thing. Putting on real pants and a proper shirt helps create a boundary between work and life (a boundary that’s often blurred while working from home).
The simple act of putting on work clothes also signals to your brain its time to go from being horizontal to being productive. A Human Resource Development study found that remote workers felt more authoritative, trustworthy, and competent when they started their day in workplace attire. Dressing for work is important, but if you must, you can keep the fuzzy slippers on.
Write out your schedule for the day or list some habits in a notebook and check off each time you complete them.
You’re a wild card, your can’t be tamed by a schedule. You need to spread your wings and take on tasks as they come to you and on a whim.
It’s well-known that you’re 42% more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down. Why not use that statistic to your advantage every morning and create a task list for what you want to accomplish by 5pm. In less than 10 minutes, you can boost your potential productivity by 42% — it’s almost too easy. The same goes for habit tracking; checking in daily on your progress forces you to hold yourself accountable and makes you more likely to stay on track. And if you like the chaos of an unplanned day, consider that making a plan and then breaking it is even more chaotic than never having a plan at all. Use the Rocketbook Core with a dot grid for less structure and more spontaneity.
Step 1: Wake up. Step 2: Take a shot of whiskey, vodka, or gin.
Because it’s a terrible idea. Is this for real?
No, it’s not for real. Move along.
Step 1: Wake up. Step 2: Drink a refreshing glass of water.
Ha! Your body is about 60% water, there’s more important things to do in the morning.
After hours of sleep, your body wakes up dehydrated, whether you realize it or not. Even a glass and a half of water can limit fatigue, moodiness, and improve concentration. In addition to improving your job performance, some early morning H₂0 will help eliminate that unpleasant taste in your mouth and fill up your stomach so you don’t overeat at breakfast or lunch. Add a wedge of lemon for a little flavor or straight up eat the lemon if you enjoy having your face scrunch up uncontrollably.
There you have it. That’s the good and bad of 10 different morning activities to try each morning before work. Choose to clear your inbox while on a treadmill or drink a glass of water as cold as your shower or put on a tie and play fetch with a pet. The good news is no matter what activities you decide to incorporate into your morning routine, you’ll be making yourself happier, healthier, and more productive. Now stop reading, and get going!
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