It’s any given Tuesday and you stretch yourself awake, nestled between clean, high thread-count sheets. You pad downstairs and tuck into a delicious, nourishing breakfast. You meditate. You journal. You put on a lovely, well-planned outfit, before opening your laptop to begin a day of creative, fulfilling, productive work.
Is that what your mornings look like? Weird, me neither!
But I sure wish they did and this year I’m doing my damnedest to get closer to a morning like that.
Why? Because I’ve discovered that the first 10 minutes of any portion of my day – my morning, after lunch, after I close my laptop – set the tone for everything else. When you start the day right, the rest of it is more likely to fall into place. Click To Tweet
You want better business mornings, too? Here’s what I’m doing.
9 morning habits that are doable + day-improving
Don’t worry, you don’t have to do all 9! 😉
1. Have enough time in your morning that you can actually have a few morning habits
Well, obviously, right? It’s hard to create a morning that sets you up for a productive, creative, intentional day if you get out of bed and rush out the door.
If you work for yourself, could you move all your meetings later in the day? If you work a 9-to-5 could you come in later or spend a few mornings working from home?
Barring that, I’m going to make the terribly predictable and un-fun suggestion that you go to bed earlier so you can get up earlier. Yes, it’s boring. It’ll also make your life a lot better! We use this dawn simulator alarm clock and I recommend it to everyone I know.
2. Set some (extremely) doable goals for yourself
Fun fact: You do not have to fill the entire page with goals! You can choose, like, three things! And when you’re finished with them, then you get to relax!
Of course, if you’re only setting three goals for yourself each day, they should be large-ish goals, not “do laundry, walk the dog, send one email.”
A few other goal-setting tips:
Use verbs when you write out your goals – not ‘blog post’ but ‘write blog post,’ not ‘closet’ but ‘purge closet like a Marie Kondo tornado of productivity and minimalism.’
I like to include one fun thing on every day’s to-do list because, left to my own devices, I’d work down to a shaking, angry version of myself. ‘Fun things’ include: getting a pedicure, working from a new coffee shop, poking around a thrift store, having lunch with a friend, going to the beach.
If you reallllly want to dork out, you can title your to-do list a ‘can-do’ list. This is both a) slightly more inspiring b) less demoralizing when/if you don’t complete everything on it. It’s stuff you can do if you have the time and energy, not stuff you’re required to do to maintain your value as a human.
P.S. Your productivity has nothing to do with your value as a human. Click To Tweet
3. Choose a time when you’ll check email and don’t check it before then
I’m sure you’ve heard this advice elsewhere but it’s good advice SO I’M TELLING YOU AGAIN. Our inboxes are filled with other people’s agendas – people asking us for information, favors, help, and hookups. Which is fine! And nice even!
But as soon as we check email, we’re in reactive mode. We’re prioritizing other people’s needs over our own work and projects.
Sometimes this is the reality of business. I wouldn’t be very successful if I ignored my students, my clients, or my VAs. But as soon as I click that ‘login’ button, I’m essentially saying “I don’t care about that thing I was working on! I am ready to fall into a hole of distraction!”
In a perfect world, I don’t check email or social media till 11 or 12 every day. I’m not perfect and I don’t do it every day, but when I do I’m floored by how much I can accomplish and how calm I feel.
4. Focus on your breathing or meditate or just zone out, dude
Perfect Me meditates in a patch of sunlight for 20 minutes every morning. Real Life Me stares out the window while she drinks one cup of decaf. I’m calling it good enough.
Science agrees: Quieting our minds is good for our health, our creativity, our productivity, and our relationships. Guided meditation is a good place to start and the Calm app is free and lovely. Or we can focus on our breath. Or we can just sit on the sofa, pet the dog, drink coffee and do nothing else.
That last one probably isn’t quiiiiite as transformative as the former but it’s better than nothing and it works for me! Find something that works for you.
5. Take your breakfast seriously
AND YES YOU NEED TO BE EATING BREAKFAST. When I say ‘take breakfast seriously’ I don’t necessarily mean ‘spend 45 minutes making waffles every morning’ (thought that is, indeed, both awesome and serious.)
What I mean is ‘treat breakfast like an actual meal.’ Eat it sitting down, on a plate, at a table. If you’re feeling ambitious, put it on a placemat, and pull out a napkin.
When I was mapping out what makes me happy, I realized that eating beautiful meals brings me inordinate amounts of joy. So now I spend the extra 10 seconds to sprinkle cocoa onto my oatmeal or chop some chives for my eggs. Faaaaancy!
6. Move your body in some way
You knew this was coming. This doesn’t have to be rigorous cardio! It could be a two-block walk with the dog, five minutes of stretching, a 10-minute Youtube yoga video, or dancing around to two Sia songs.
Any type of movement helps us wake up, focus, and separate the sleepy, horizontal part of our day from the keyboard, business part of our day.
7. Do something that makes you feel like you have your ish together
I like starting my workday feeling like a gee dee adult. I want to feel like someone who can be trusted to meet deadlines and bring amazing ideas to fruition. It is harder to feel this way when I’m wearing pajamas and working from my couch.
Different things make different people feel ‘together.’ Maybe it’s putting on A Real Outfit and doing your hair. Maybe it’s washing your breakfast dishes. Maybe it’s making your bed and clearing off your desk. Find something that makes you feel on top of it and make it part of your morning.
8. Have a ‘I’m getting serious now’ ritual
One of my work-from-home friends puts on her coat and walks around the block every day before she starts work. Another friend has a breakfast coffee mug and work day coffee mug. Another friend puts her hair in a top knot and puts her phone on flight mode.
You know what works for you. Your ritual might involve technology, what you’re wearing, where you’re working, a fresh cup of coffee, or even a special candle you only burn during working hours. Find something that fits you and your needs!
9. Reach out to someone you admire
My friend Molly has made it a daily habit to reach out to someone she admires. Every single day! By doing it daily, she makes it a habit and reduces the stress and pressure. Somebody doesn’t respond? No big deal! She’s reached out to four other people that week and surely someone will reply!
But I want to hear from you! Do you feel like you have a handle on your mornings? Do you have a morning routine that helps you set up your day for success?