10 Morning Habits that Improved my Productivity
Do you recognize this scenario? You wake up disturbed by your alarm clock and from that moment on your day is taken over by life itself fueled by coffee and stress. Everything seems to go on autopilot from the moment you wake up and there isn’t a moment you feel in control. You forget your keys, are distracted and unable to focus and get to work and come home exhausted feeling like you’re never going to get out of this rut. But fear not! I am sharing with you 10 morning habits that improved my productivity, so you can make yours better too!
A good morning routine can help you feel more balanced and productive throughout the day. It takes away the rush and the stress and can set you up for success on the long term. Adopting morning habits that work for you, can benefit you right away as well as in the future. That is why I started to make conscious decisions on how to start my day. I really wanted to take the lead, rather than to let the morning lead me. To be in control of my morning habits and with that improve my whole day.
Morning habits gone wrong
Most of the things you do in the morning are probably a reaction to your situation, family members or environment. We have to get to work, so we need to shower, get dressed, eat and catch the train. Maybe you have to get your kids ready as well, which adds to the stress and chaos with which you start your day. You respond to the little crisis of lost shoes and hurry through the house to get everyone and everything ready. These reoccurring events have now become your morning habits. You may have gotten used to it, but that doesn’t mean you’re happy with it.
Some morning habits actually become habits by accident. One day you overslept and you didn’t have time for a proper breakfast. In your rush you took a cereal bar to eat on your way and made it to work in time. You now realized that you can sleep longer and still reach on time, hence you wake up later next day too.
Maybe your worries or the chimes of your phone wake you up and your morning habit is to read your emails, work texts and newsfeed first thing with your eyes still half closed. Some of us are in such a rush or so preoccupied with the stresses and responsibilities of the day ahead that we go on autopilot and don’t really wake up until we reach our destination.
It is easy to understand why running after the facts and rushing without thinking is not a desirable way to start the day. Don’t we all like to start our days calm and in control? Let me share the morning habits I adopted that helped me be more productive.
Here are the 10 simple morning habits that made my days more productive
Before we start, a quick reminder. These are just suggestions and ideas that worked for me personally, please do what feels right for you and fits your personal life and situation. Most importantly, you need to do what makes you feel happy and productive for the day ahead and long term. Waking up early has many advantages, but if it is counterproductive, maybe that isn’t for you. Listen to your body and mind, zero in on your personal needs and wants, find out what inspires you and what can be left out. I am no expert, but this sounds logical to me. Here we go.
1. Wake up early
About 2 hours before the family wakes up, I open my eyes. I am a morning person, so to me it may be easier than for you. Just know that you can get used it. It is a matter of training your body.
In summer, with the sun up early it will be easier than in winter, when it so dark you may feel you never even went to bed! But don’t give up! Morning habits don’t work if you don’t make time for them in the morning. Start by waking up 10 minutes earlier at first. Once that is your new normal, try 30 minutes earlier. When you get used to that, try another 30 minutes. This way you can train yourself to wake up earlier. Starting slowly and waking up little earlier every day, will help you to maintain this new morning habit. It is no use waking up at 5am one day, only to feel exhausted and then to give up. Get used to it slowly and stick to it.
Waking up early gives me a chance to do things for myself and to have some alone time. Since the pandemic we are all at home 100% of the time and sometimes even with the best intentions, it gets a bit much. So alone time may be even more important now. Still, also before the pandemic I appreciated the quiet morning time just for me.
Once I am awake, I take a moment to clear my head. I usually do that by focusing on a chant or reciting a chant in my mind. This way I focus on one thing and my thoughts are not taking me all over and back again. It is easy to be distracted by the schedule of the day ahead, work, school, what to wear … Nevertheless, to make more out of morning and your day it is better not to jump right in and react to what is being thrown at you. Rather take a moment, take a breath, clear your head and start your day balanced and calm.
Don’t skip because you think you lack time. Meditating doesn’t have to be long – you can start with a few minutes (moments even!) and slowly you’ll notice you can do more and longer.
Another misconception is that you have to sit on the floor in a special room with incense lit and a mandala on the wall. If you have a practice room, that is great! But when I wake up early, I just sit upright in bed, close my eyes and focus on my chant. I breathe in and out normally, I’m not doing anything special with my breath. My body is relaxed, but my back is straight.
Many times I found it very hard to meditate, especially because I wake up with many ideas in my head. I would worry that they would fade away when meditating. This of course doesn’t help with clearing my mind and letting my thoughts and visions float by like clouds in the sky. I wanted to hold on to them! Thankfully, I found a way to deal with that, let’s get to the next point.
3. Writing ideas down
I actually learned about this during a conference about sleep. Many people have problems sleeping, because of the many thoughts going through their head. One way to fall asleep, our speaker told us, is to write these thoughts down and with that allow them to leave your head. Next day you can find all your thoughts written down.
This works very well in the morning too! I wake up with lots of ideas and thoughts in my head. Things I want to get working on right away. Nevertheless, by the time I am done with half of my morning habits, these ideas are faint flickering memories of a distant dream. When I’m ready to sit down for work, I have no idea anymore what I wanted to do.
Recognize this? Here is the number 3 tip of my morning habits; Keep a notebook next to your bed. I prefer a notebook over your phone, because you want to start your day with your own thoughts, a clear head and on your own terms. Your phone will entice you with text messages, the news, emails, work, social media etc and in no time you are back to square one.
Here are some notebooks we made for you from our YogaMap and YogicFoods initiatives. These are original artworks (proudly made by myself) and are available at our YogicFoods shop at RedBubble. You can keep track of the latest and greatest in this Shop Blog, where we share a curated collection of our designs. Soon there will be a shop blog on YogaMap.com as well
So, what I do is to write my ideas down after I wake up. Then I can meditate without distraction and worry that I will forget what I wanted to do. I can come back to my notes later when I am ready to work.
4. Getting up
Until now I have been in bed. See, waking up early can be lazy too 🙂 This next morning habit is a beautiful ritual that you may want to adopt whatever time you get out of bed.
Before my feet touch the ground I express my gratitude for this new day. I say SatNam, you may say Namaste or Amen or just a simple Thank You. You can already integrate your moment of gratitude in your meditation. If you decide to get up right away however, taking a moment to be grateful before putting your feet down, really makes a difference. So, say thank you the Universe and Entities that are with us for this new day you have been given.
This may be one of my favorite morning habits of all. It makes me happy and confident. It gives me a feeling or vision to return to if I’m feeling discouraged during the day and it always cheers me up. What do I do? Once I am ready to do some work. I sit down at my desk, close my eyes and take a moment to envision myself having achieved all the goals I have set.
You can do this too. Whatever you have planned out for yourself in your professional life or personal life, see yourself that way in your minds eye. This can be anything from being successful to getting married, from living abroad to being healthy, from graduating to just being happy. All you have to do is to feel the way you think you would feel when you reach your goal. See before you what you would do, how your life would be, what your day would look like. I only take a few minutes every day to do this, but it makes me feel happy and confident.
6. Me time
These morning habits all came to life when I found myself stuck between house chores, kids, homeschool, work. Where was I? I was either a housewife, a mom, a teacher, a wife, but rarely to never was I just ME. Since I am the only person in our house that can actually wake up early and be active and happy at the same time, I figured that was my ‘me-time’.
I work on my own projects. This can be this blog, handling social media or I do graphics. Whatever makes helps the family forward, helps me reach the goals I set in my visualization or things I that make me feel proud of myself. Sometimes that is reading an (educational) book or taking an online course.
What would you like to do if you had some time for yourself? Maybe you would like to study or take a walk in the fresh morning air. Maybe you’d be working on your own business or side hustle. Think about it, once you know you will look forward to it and won’t find it hard to wake up earlier at all.
7. Morning time hugs
With a busy schedule, working from home and everyone being inside during this pandemic, it is easy to get a bit of a family overload. I noticed I started to take my family for granted. If you are like us, living in an apartment in the City, you are always – and with that I mean 24/7 – together in a small space. Of course we get annoyed, I am not going to pretend here.
But we are blessed to have each other. So one of my morning habits is to hug the family when they wake up. It sounds so obvious, but in the hustle and bustle of the morning stresses it is easy to forget. I have made it a point to make this a habit throughout the day, just more hugging and more awareness of the great gift it is to have loved ones near.
Giving some hugs and attention in the morning, sets you up for the day. It allows your family members to understand you love them, but that you have a busy day and not as much time for them as you’d like. They will feel loved and appreciated. You can feel at ease with your busy schedule and long work hours, because you showed them first thing how much they mean to you.
Maybe you want to express more love for your partner or gratitude to your parents. Other ways to show love and appreciation is to write a thank you note, send a good morning message to dear ones or to just pick up the phone (handsfree of course if you’re driving).
8. Hot tea
Seriously, Caroline? You put hot tea as a morning habit for us to take over in our daily wake up ritual? I can hear you think, it is too simple to be on the list. But seriously. Have a cup of tea. Happiness is in the little things, right?
Having my cup of hot herbal tea to sip from really makes a difference. It gives me that feeling of comfort and coziness. Much better than coffee in my opinion. But then I don’t drink coffee, so that is easy for me to say. I also prefer it over chai, because herbal tea doesn’t have any milk or sweetener.
My herbal teas all need different temperatures to bring out the best taste. So I use this electric teakettle to set the right temp to enjoy my tea. It keeps the water hot even after it is done and it looks pretty too. Then I pour it in this smart cup that keeps my tea warm at the temperature that I can set myself. This was really worth it, I promise. This way I can focus on what I want to do and I don’t have to get to the kitchen all the time. Take it to work too, especially in long meetings, you will thank me for it later.
If you choose your herbal tea wisely, the herbs can benefit you more than just by giving warm comfort. There are many teas specifically blend to improve your wellbeing. There are detox teas, focus teas, digestion teas, sleepy teas … I would avoid the last one in the morning though.
9. Books at Breakfast
Skip forward a bit and we are at breakfast time. Since a short time I have adopted the habit of reading during breakfast time. I am fairly quickly done with my breakfast, but my kids really embrace the ‘eat slow’ philosophy. So breakfast can take a while. I mentioned a few times that we homeschool and breakfast time tends to ‘eat’ away in my school day, making it more challenging to get everything covered in a day.
That is why, when I am done with eating, I read aloud. This can be anything from classics like Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne or Wizard of Oz, by Frank Baum to biographies like Marco Polo or Jane Goodall. Some mornings are for stories about math some for stories about science. There are also wonderful stories to read about history and geography and inspiring people. It is a lovely morning habit that you can easily adopt and adapt for yourself.
Since you woke up early, following my first morning habit, you don’t have to rush to get ready in the morning. You have time for 10 minutes of inspiration. You may want to read a book, article, religious texts, educational article or a self development book. Whatever you choose to read, (and whether during a yogic foods breakfast or not) I suggest you make it a positive text.
There are some great audiobooks and audio book programs out there for you to explore, if you want to ‘read’ hands free. Amazon Audible has a great selection of books to listen to. An audiobook platform for kids with lots of fun and educational stories to listen to, is Pinna. They have a 30 day free trial, by the way, which I suggest you use. We really enjoy it and listen to it almost every day.
If you are looking for ideas what to make for breakfast or need inspiration for snacks to pack. Check out our blog post from YogicFoods.com ‘what we eat in a day – the yogic diet way’. It may inspire you to make something quick and healthy.
Tell me you were wondering where the yoga would come in! Of course, it deserves a place in my morning habits. In anyones morning habits actually. It is great for body and mind to do some physical exercise before getting started with the day. Some people like to do yoga or a workout right after waking up, some prefer to do it just before sitting down for personal work, or me-time, as I call it here. We usually do our active session when the kids are up. We want them to be involved and inspired. This way we hope to teach them by example that working out, doing yoga or other physical exercise is a natural and healthy part of the day.
Let me share with you 2 wonderful, easy and beneficial ways to exercise in the morning.
7 minute yoga
If you find it difficult to get started and feel you don’t have time for yoga. Consider our 7 minutes Yoga App YogaMap to integrate a short yoga routine in your morning habits. I mean, you can spare 7 minutes, right? It is easy enough to use, there are many adaptations for beginners and advanced users. We are explaining the benefits of each pose and there is time to calm down and get into the yoga routine with some breathing. With the YogaMap app you can cover yoga, breathing and meditation all in one.
5 Tibetan Rites
We have started doing the 5 Tibetan Rite in the morning as a family. Maybe you have heard of them, maybe this is totally new. Gurpreet came to me with this to try and it is really great. The 5 Rites are 5 simple moves to improve health and focus and reverse aging (I love that, although of course I embrace my aging process like a true yogi). You start with doing each move 3 times. When you feel comfortable doing that, you can increase the amounts of each move with 2 extra each time. So, from 3 you go to 5 times, to 7 times etc all the way to 21 times. It is easy enough for anyone to start, beginner or experienced yogi. It is also wonderful to do with kids, since the moves are simple and come natural to them. Adding them to our morning habits has been a lovely new way to start the day.
In fact, we love it so much that Gurpreet and I are working on a new app that will help YOU practice the 5 Rites to reap the benefits. You will be able to set your reps and keep track of your progress. We are busy writing, coding and doing graphics and I am excited to tell you we will have the app ready soon! Of course, we will keep you posted about the progress. If you want to read more about the 5 Rites, its benefits and the postures, It will be right here on the blog.
There you have it. 10 simple and small things that I do that make my day happier. So what do you think, will you use some of these morning habits to start your own morning routine? Tell me how it worked out for you. I hope your days will be great, at least you know how get off to a good start.
Sat Nam and Namaste
Caroline & Gurpreet
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Note; An adapted version of this blog article first appeared on www.YogicFoods.com