It can be hard work setting out on a journey to create change. Where do you start? How do you go about it? If you’re starting up a social enterprise, charity or change project, or growing one that exists being productive is key. Having a morning ritual for productivity can make all the difference.
We’ve all had those moments where we haven’t quite been on the form we’d hoped for starting the day. Procrastination can creep in, and before you know it we haven’t done half what we’d intended to.
So why would you need a morning ritual?
A popular saying is
“How you start your day determines how it goes”.
If you’ve ever started a day lazing around even when you had tasks to complete, telling yourself “I’ll get to it soon”, then you know that you hardly ever “get to it”. Even if you managed to complete those tasks, you went at them with the least effort, your main goal being to get them over with, instead of doing valuable work.
This is why every changemaker needs a morning routine. To make the most of the time you have available to you the actions you take from the moment you open your eyes should be in line with having a productive day.
Related: 150 Morning Affirmations to start the day off the right way
Something as simple as choosing to turn on the tv could seriously alter how much work you get done in that day. We can even take it as far back as the night before. If you don’t prepare yourself mentally for the next day’s tasks, you’ll probably be too disorganized to get much done.
The importance of having a morning routine should not be underestimated.
It doesn’t have to be strict i.e. the same set of actions every morning. To be at our most productive our mornings should be a routine that is filled with positive actions that will lay the path for a good day or getting stuff done.
Morning routines give you a reason to drag yourself out of bed in the mornings, especially if they are filled with things you enjoy doing. They introduce excitement to your day, e.g stretches that feel heavenly on your sore muscles, or a fun meal you have planned for breakfast.
There’s nothing more disorganizing than not knowing what you’re supposed to do. When you have a morning routine, your daily tasks are laid out, and you can focus on getting to them one by one, increasing your level of productivity, and reducing the amount of time you spend worrying or asking yourself “What did I say I was going to do today?”
Getting out of bed and completing a morning routine every day is not easy. It takes a lot of discipline, and you will probably slack more than once. But this is good. The more you apply yourself, the easier it gets.
That ease comes with self-discipline. This discipline won’t just help you jump out of bed every morning ready to work, it will also reflect in the quality of your work, and the growth of yourself and your project.
You’re probably pumped to start planning your own unique morning routine, but you should know that we’re not talking about meditating to the sunrise and avocado-covered toasts. You can still do those if you enjoy them (not hatin’), but your morning actions should be preparing you for long hours of sitting at a desk getting the work you need to do done. Yep. So here are some helpful additions to your morning routine to help you kickstart your morning, and stay happy and productive through the day.
I see a ton of advice (online) to make a to-do list in the morning, but it doesn’t always work that way. As a busy changemaker, with a mountain to get done, your tasks are everywhere. It’s more likely that these things pop up on your mind randomly. This means that you can’t wait till the morning of a workday to write them down, as you could easily forget.
Keep a notepad handy (if you’re a pen and paper type of person) or install a digital notepad on your mobile device. I personally use ToDoist and Evernote to create my to-do list, schedule tasks into different days, and write down reminders as they come to mind. Your time management will improve as the important tasks get crossed off one by one.
You don’t have to wake up at 5 am every day, but you shouldn’t have a reason to be in bed beyond 8 am. Set an alarm for your best waking hour between 5 am to 8 am, and pull yourself out of bed when you hear it go off.
Regardless of how tempted, you are to just hit snooze and go back to sleep, don’t. Drag, pull, roll yourself out of bed. This is the hardest part of your morning routine but if you can push through, then it’s smooth sailing from there.
Some of us, on the other hand, are night owls. There isn’t a hard and fast rule here, rather create your timing to suit you. An early start works wonders, but if you’ve been up all night burning the midnight oil shift your timing to allow for your own preference.
Stretching will help to get the remnants of sleep out of your system. A light exercise will also help power up your brain and get you ready for the tasks ahead. Exercising promotes your physical health and keeps you in shape. Even a 20-minute workout can provide that extra energy boost to your day-long productivity.
Also, if you’re like me and you always have a million things running through your mind, even while asleep, then you should consider adding meditation to your morning routine.
It will help you achieve a few minutes of ‘mental quietness’, giving you a clear head to start your day with.
Your body uses up water while you sleep, so it is very important for optimal brain function that you drink enough water before starting your day. You might not easily notice if you are dehydrated, but it could affect your focus and level of productivity. Drinking water also prepares your stomach for breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day.
Studies have shown that eating breakfast is necessary to promote better memory and concentration, which is helpful for anyone who juggles several tasks every day. Your energy level will also be sustained throughout the day, or at least until lunch if you eat a good breakfast. Steer clear of the sugar to avoid stress.
A clean workspace is very much like a fresh start. To avoid getting distracted by everything that might be out of place, take out a few minutes to clean your workspace and put everything back in order. A cluttered workspace can affect your level of concentration and make it harder to focus on the work at hand.
You probably have a to-do list, but you need to break it down into realistic goals. What I mean is, you need to identify how many of those tasks can be accomplished within your work hours. It is better to focus on two to three things and go at them one-by-one than to try and juggle them all and accomplish nothing valuable.
Write out the major tasks and what you have planned for the day in a new list, and remember to add other things that help your project such as replying to emails, publishing a post on your LinkedIn page, contributing to your groups you’re a part of, etc. Goal setting is crucial to a feeling of accomplishment and achievement, which all aids productivity.
Related: Our selection of best productivity quotes to get up and get going.
A productive morning routine is intended to improve your efficiency levels, so you should be focused on ‘perfecting’ it, in a way. Constantly time yourself doing these tasks, so you know how long it takes you to complete a few stretches, make breakfast, decide on your daily tasks, etc. The purpose of timing yourself is not to hurry up, because that will be counterproductive. Your mornings should be relaxed so you are calm and ready to get to work.
The purpose is to fix appropriate waking and work hours that suit you. For example, if it takes you 1 hour to finish your morning routine and you work 6 hours a day, you can wake up at 7 am and be done by 2 pm. However, if you take 3 hours to go through all the motions, you’ll be done with work by 5 pm.
If you want to change this, you can then focus on reducing the time spent on your morning routine, or waking up two hours earlier than usual.
Working on your morning ritual for productivity? Here are some things to avoid to make the most of every day.
It’s easy to assume that you can handle everything at once, especially if you just had your daily dose of coffee. However, the following effect of multitasking is a quick burnout. This means that you’ll probably get through halfway, but finishing the tasks will prove harder as the hours go by. Tackle each task individually, and only switch to a new one when you are satisfied with the results.
As changemakers, social media could either help or harm our projects. It all depends on how we choose to use it. Many people have grown their reach, started movements, and built reputations online using social media. However, it could also serve as a distraction that keeps you from completing your tasks.
To avoid getting lost in the black hole that is your social media feed, avoid it entirely until you are done with your priority tasks for the day.
This might seem odd, but I would recommend you stay away from the news in the morning. For many of us, our parents passed down the tradition of checking the news or reading the papers in the morning to stay in the know. However, the things you see in the news can heavily affect your mood, which could kill any zeal you have to work. To be at your best, you have to insulate yourself from external factors that can influence how you feel until you are done with the task at hand.
A fresh morning start feels promising, and you know that if you manage your time well, you can accomplish a lot. However, this knowledge can encourage us to say “yes” to unrealistic tasks or deadlines. To avoid stress, burnout, or even depression, say “no”, as it might cause you more harm than good to say “yes”.
The most important tip is to give yourself a day off once in a while. As much as you need to stay disciplined, don’t get out of tune with your body. Set aside time to lay in bed, eat, watch movies and do absolutely nothing else. Successful people at the coal face of change need days to go out and enjoy life outside the grind as much as anyone else.
The healthiest lifestyle is one that promotes balance. Make sure you stick to healthy eating as much and possible. If you stick to a routine and complete your tasks at the right time, it will be easier for you to set out the needed time for self-care and socialization which are necessary for your mental health, and ultimately your productivity.