10 practical ways to be more productive in the morning


Man looking tired after waking up

Benjamin Franklin, the renowned scientist and founding father of the US, once said: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

While this may be true, it’s often easier said than done to feel productive first thing in the morning, and it can often take some time to shake off the grogginess after stumbling out of bed. 

If you feel this way, then you’re not alone – a survey from YouGov found that 68% of Brits report very or fairly often feeling tired upon waking.

Thankfully, several practices and tips can help you feel productive in the morning and more able to tackle your day head-on – continue reading to discover 10 practical ways to do so.

1. Get a good night’s sleep

An excellent place to start improving your morning productivity is to ensure you get a good night’s sleep. Even though adults need roughly seven hours of sleep each night, Mental Health UK reveals that almost 1 in 5 people in the UK don’t get enough.

As well as reducing your productivity, too little sleep can negatively affect your focus, hamper your memory, and even damage your immune system.

To get a healthy amount of sleep, it may be worth muting your phone long before you head to bed and sit it away from where you sleep so it doesn’t distract you. On top of this, you may want to avoid eating and exercising late at night. 

2. Try the “2-by-3” alarm rule

Getting out of bed is one of the hardest parts of everyone’s morning. When your alarm rings and jars you awake, hitting the snooze button and getting an extra 10 minutes of shuteye can be tempting. 

However, this 10-minute “nap” can quickly turn into an hour, and you may end up wasting precious time in the morning.

Interestingly, you may want to try the “2-by-3” rule. Inc. recommends setting two alarms in the morning three minutes apart, with the second alarm being when you wish to wake up.

By doing so, you could condition your brain to get up at a particular time in the morning, which could, in turn, help prevent you from sleeping in. 

3. Have a healthy breakfast

Another way to boost your productivity in the morning is by eating a healthy breakfast. Something as straightforward as fruit, oatmeal, or even a healthy sandwich, can fuel your brain in the morning and help you tackle your day head-on. 

A simple, healthy breakfast typically doesn’t take long to make, which could help you save some time in the morning. Better yet, this could even help keep your blood sugar levels consistent throughout the day, providing you with substantial energy. 

4. Get active when you first wake up

It may also be worth exploring an active pursuit after your breakfast in the morning. This could involve something as simple as some stretching, or you could go for a walk or run around your local area. 

Business Insider states that exercise in the morning can boost your wakefulness by increasing cortisol levels in your brain, which could, in turn, help you feel more productive and willing to work harder. 

Exercising first thing in the morning could even help you avoid sugary snacks and excessive amounts of caffeine. In fact, 10 minutes of exercise promotes wakefulness more than caffeine!

5. Avoid your phone in the morning

Your phone can often be one of the main distractions in the morning. For instance, you may be tempted to check your social media accounts or reply to texts and emails when you first wake up. 

However, this quick check can easily turn into mindless scrolling, which could hamper your productivity as you waste precious time.

It may be prudent to avoid any interactions with your phone until noon. This way, you could prevent procrastination and distraction, and focus more on your work.

6. Set a dedicated daily schedule

Having a daily schedule that you firmly stick to could also help your productivity in the morning. This is because a regular schedule can help improve your circadian rhythm, the sleep-wake cycle the body follows every 24 hours.

When creating your schedule, it may be worth completing less important tasks when your alertness is low – usually early in the morning, around 3 pm, or late at night.

This predictable routine could help you reduce stress and improve your daily efficiency, as it tends to make decision-making easier, eliminates uncertainties during the day, and helps you build healthy habits to manage your time and energy.

7. Prepare for the following day before you go to sleep

On top of a rigorous daily schedule, it may be worth preparing for the next day before you go to sleep. Doing so ensures that your morning will be as smooth and efficient as possible since you’re making the most of your time. 

What’s more, you tend to have less willpower first thing in the morning, and making too many decisions early could drain your brain for the rest of the day. 

So, you may want to lay out your morning before you go to sleep – you could make your lunch, create a to-do list, or even try writing down three things you wish to accomplish the following day. 

8. Have a cup of coffee

A cup of coffee in the morning can act as a pick-me-up, helping you shrug off any grogginess and be more productive.

Moreover, new research suggests that a cup of coffee in the morning could even help with several aspects of your health. Indeed, the Independent reports that a shot of coffee could help prevent a toxic protein called “tau” from clumping together, the accumulation of which can be a contributing factor of Alzheimer’s. 

It’s important to note that you may lose the beneficial effects of coffee if you include sugar, and UK guidelines state that you shouldn’t consume more than two and a half cups of coffee in one sitting. 

9. Do something when you first wake up, then go back to bed

This tip may sound slightly counterintuitive, but interesting new research has suggested that a helpful way to improve your productivity in the morning could be to perform an activity, and then go back to bed for a short period.

Huffington Post states that this could be anything as mundane as brushing your teeth, heading out for a coffee, or walking the dog. 

Then, heading back to your bed for a short nap could help you feel proud of yourself and give you more momentum for things later in the day that usually makes you feel overwhelmed. 

10. Have a glass of water as soon as you wake

Sometimes, something as straightforward as having a glass of water first thing in the morning can boost your productivity. 

Real Simple states that this can help increase your energy levels when you wake up, as it prompts the rehydration process and ensures your tissues and organs get the fluids they need. 

Moreover, this can boost your mental performance, as even mild dehydration has been linked to short-term memory loss. 

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