What do you do with the extra morning time while working from home? What extra time you ask? The time it usually took to dress up for the office and commute. Yeah, it was a long time ago, we know.
After speaking to well over a 100 “workers from home” we’ve spotted that the “new” morning routines come in phases. At first, we were excited to have a slower start of the day, read, have breakfast. After a while evening and morning rhythms change and sleeping-in starts to eat up more of the morning commute. In a while, we get anxious for not using mornings efficiently and try to go back to “normal”, but it doesn’t always work out. Actually, it doesn’t work out more often than it does.
Those who manage to wake up at a regular time and stick to a productive morning routine - BRAVO! Based on our research you feel more content overall, you are more productive, less affected by the weather and the current pandemic. Sending you our regards!
And the rest. Don’t worry, you’re not alone and there is a cure! Most of the people, actually 88% of those we’ve spoken to, have difficulty in keeping up with a productive self-discipline while working from home. So while it’s kind of normal, you want to be in the batch from the previous paragraph and the way forward is building a well-versed morning routine.
Technically we all have morning routines. The question is WHAT morning routine will lead you to becoming the badass person that even you will aspire to: more productive, focused, healthier, happier and successful.
Why is morning routine so important?
Mornings are a fresh start that sets the tone for everything that follows. You have limited amounts of energy and willpower, so setting the tone and getting it right from the morning is the most essential part of a productive day. Most successful and ALL the productive people have morning routines! As the saying goes - well begun is half done.
Basic principles first
A new definition of a morning
We define morning as everything that happens from the second we wake up to the second we tune in to office life regardless of an hour. When we wake up and how much time we have is far less important than how we spend the time we do have. It is much more productive to make mornings easier instead of earlier. So we won’t nag you about waking up earlier. Especially now when for the first time in centuries we actually have more control over our own schedules. Not everybody is a morning person and working from home allows night owls to adjust their schedules to working later in the day. If you have to adjust anything, try adjusting your work schedule to suit your natural body rhythms. You might not have another opportunity like this and who knows, maybe this adjustment will last beyond the mandatory working from home.
One thing is for sure, when it comes to mornings - consistently spending time for yourself is the key!
Morning routine has to be personal
What time do you wake up? Do you have breakfast? Do you need coffee? Do you shower or exercise? These are personal questions to consider. One size doesn’t fit all as our physical needs and lifestyles are very different. You have to know yourself in order to come up with the best morning routine for yourself. Thus, developing the perfect morning routine is a trial-and-error process.
The key is to have a personal schedule and always adhere to it. This way, you’ll discipline yourself and become more productive a day at a time.
Balancing all your needs
Do you spend time with your family in the morning? Do you journal? Read? Meditate or do breathing exercises? Most people wake up to get to work as quickly as possible and that’s exactly the opposite of what the richest and most successful people do. A well-versed morning routine that ensures productivity throughout the day MUST address more than just opening your eyes and putting on some clothes.
Let’s start with physiological needs
Get enough sleep
It’s not like you’re out and about partying or meeting friends for dinner these days. So it SHOULD be much easier to get enough sleep, right? We all know better. Watching a movie, chatting with friends, scrolling social media can eat up time in no time and usually we hit the bed way too late. Even though we know that insufficient sleep can negatively affect concentration, memory, immune system, mood, efficiency and decision-making.
Reality is that we don't move enough during the day and our body has too much energy in the evening. All day looking at screens drains brain, but sitting on a chair for 8 to 10 hours leaves body full of unused energy. A disbalance of tiredness and energy levels between body and brain doesn't let you fall asleep easily.
Want to sleep well? Start exercising and go out for a walk during the day! Having a bedtime routine helps too. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night and try to wake up based on your sleep cycles. There are plenty of apps for that.
Productivity starts with good health and the easiest way to get on with your health is a glass of water the minute you wake up. You probably don’t drink while you sleep so after 7-8 hours without a drop of water your body and most importantly your brain are dehydrated. Your brain is craving for water. Water perks you up and gets your muscles and organs working. Do your body a favour for carrying you around all day, hydrate it!
In addition, some believe that drinking water on an empty stomach is the secret behind the flawless porcelain skin and slim, toned figures of Japanese women. Beat that!
There's no one size fits all approach with exercising in the morning. Some can run a marathon in the morning, while others are... well more like us - can't/don't want to exercise in the mornings.
Exercising helps boost energy, motivation, productivity and physical and mental stamina. According to Harvard Medical School's journal, working out causes brain to secrete a chemical called neurotrophic factor, which boosts brain function so there is a correlation between mental sharpness, memory and exercise.
Just to be clear, exercise DOES NOT have to last for hours and DOES NOT have to include gym or running outside! For example Odeta gets dizzy and faints with cardio exercises in the morning so she picked 2-3 exercises that are too simple and too short to say NO to.
- Planks 3x 1 minute (or whatever you can). The secret of plank is it's not just good for your inner muscles and spine, it's also awesome for abs!
- Any sort of squats 3x 25-35 (or whatever you can manage)
- Push ups 3x whatever you can manage.
Do 30 seconds breaks in between. On some mornings do at least 1 of these, on others - all 3.
Too easy to say no to, right?
Eat a protein-rich breakfast
Yes, yes, we’ve heard it all before. You’re not a breakfast person. So how do you beat the fact that if you don't give your brain the fuel it needs in the morning, you will never reach your maximum potential?
Breakfast is one of the keys to setting yourself up for a productive morning. Remember that your body has been fasting for the past seven or eight hours, and jump-starting your system with a protein-rich breakfast can get you going. The first meal of the day should be a balance of high-fiber carbohydrates and lean protein. The former helps regulate blood sugar levels, while the latter can help you feel full for longer.
If you do decide to try being the most productive you can, here are some superfoods to consider: eggs, oatmeal, oat biscuits, granola and anything made with oats, whole-grain toast or waffles, seeds: chia, flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, porridge: rice, quinoa, buckwheat, wheat, fruit (especially bananas) and fruit smoothies, berries, nuts, cottage cheese, Greek yoghurt, avocados, protein shake.
Mix & match what you like the most and don't spend more than 10-15 minutes to prepare breakfast on weekdays! Even better - prepare it the night before! 100 grams of high-fiber carbohydrates will do!
Part 2 of To conquer the world, nail your mornings first we discusses how to cover emotional and mental needs in your morning routine.