If you made it out of bed this morning, congratulations. We know how hard that can be.
But did you also find the time to hit the gym, eat breakfast, read the news and make it to work with a bright smile? Probably not. Mornings, for many, are slow moving things.
There are ways, however, to boost pre-dawn productivity, which is why we spoke to Julie Morgenstern. The author of Time Management From the Inside Out (and friend of Oprah), Morgenstern spends her days teaching high-powered people and companies how to up their efficiency and make the most out of the early hours. Here’s her best advice for starting your mornings off right.
1) Plan Your Attack
Your mornings begin the night before. Pack your bag. Plan your breakfast. Lay out your outfit for the next day. Do as much as you can to make sure that when you wake up, you have as little to think about as possible.
“The things you do at night — literally the same activity — will take you less time than if you did it the morning of,” says Morgenstern. ”And then it takes the pressure off in the morning. This is one of the most powerful things you can do.”
If you have issues falling into a routine at night, Morgenstern suggests tying the activities to an “anchor habit.” Think about the evening routines you already have like, say, brushing your teeth, and add something like “picking out your clothes” as an extension of that activity. “That’s really the secret to building a new habit,” she says.
2) Ban Electronics From the Bedroom
Just think about how often you’ve laid in bed scrolling through Facebook when you should’ve been working out, eating breakfast or doing anything else. Ditching your devices and restricting access to email is essential to more productive mornings, as their absence allows your brain to wake up and focus.
“When your electronics aren’t there, you will literally feel withdrawal,” says Morgenstern. “At first, you’re like ‘Oh my God!’ It takes about 15 minutes of discomfort, and then all of a sudden you’ll feel your brain go into a deeper gear and you’ll calm down and you’ll relax.”
Charge electronics in another room or, if you live in a small apartment, place them away from your bed. Use your phone as an alarm? Swap it for a analog model. Even if you don’t ban them entirely, Morgenstern says to get into the habit of avoiding electronics in the morning. “It just sucks you in and time gets lost,” she says.
3) Time Your Tasks
Consider what you need to do in the morning — shower, shave, walk the dog, workout. Do you really know how much time each activity demands?
“People just don’t pay attention to how long things really take,” says Morgenstern. “That’s the biggest obstacle about with good time management.”
Her solution: “Time your routine and define your routine.” Once you have an exact idea of the minutes it will take to achieve everything, you’ll be more likely to set — and stick to — a proper wakeup time and any to-do lists.
4) Cultivate a More Serene Space
Your bedroom is a reflection of your personality. And according to Morgenstern, corralling the space’s clutter will clear your mind and focus your attention on tasks ahead. She also suggests opening your shades to flood your space with as much energizing natural light as possible. “You’ll wake up much more energized than you would in a dark room,” she says.
5) Eat Breakfast
It’s the most important meal of the day for a reason. Per Morgenstern, the most successful people eat breakfast in the morning, preferably a combination of carbs and protein. “Time management is about managing your energy and power for peak performance, so fueling up right away is part of that and getting your metabolism going and your blood sugar up,” she says.