Morning routines and rituals can seem a bit cliche. But think of the last time you missed your alarm, forgot breakfast, rushed and spilled your coffee, or forgot to pack something important for the day. How did that affect the rest of your day? Did you let a bad five minutes ruin the remaining 1,435? Were you relaxed, focused and motivated to crush your goals? More likely, it stressed you out and bled into the rest of your 24 hours, slowing your productivity. Mornings set the stage for the rest of the day. When you accomplish something as simple as making your bed or show self-love by caring for your skin, that momentum and rush of dopamine continues throughout your day. It’s a snowball effect of productivity, so make sure you control your mornings and your mornings don’t control you. Here are some ways you can build a productive morning routine. Pick one or two, or try them all. 

Wake up at the same time every morning.

This tip is backed by science to not only get more restful sleep at night but to have an easier time waking up in the morning. A consistent sleep schedule means you eventually wake up at the time you want to. If you find yourself rushed in the mornings, this is a way to train your body’s circadian rhythm to wake you up a half hour earlier. That way, you have more time to start your day right.

Make a physical to-do list.

Sometimes the morning rolls around and even with the best intentions, we forget the things we wanted to do. Keep a notepad by your bedside and write out a to-do list the night before. This list is a tool to build a productive morning routine. It might look like the following:

  • 30 minute run
  • Shower
  • Pack a lunch
  • Coffee
  • Journal
  • Call a loved one

Check them off when you complete them, and you won’t forget the things you want to do before your day takes off.

Prioritize quiet time.

The morning is the perfect time to carve out 10 minutes daily for silence and solitude. This can be reflection, meditation, journaling, spirituality, or whatever grounds you and makes you ready to take on the day. Calm and Headspace are great tools to guide you through your quiet time. Spending 10 minutes being mindful keeps you in that mindset all day. Likewise, spending the morning stressed out and rushing can have you on edge the rest of the day.

Do something that challenges you.

Research at the University of Nottingham which included an 83-study meta-analysis discovered that self-control is strongest at the beginning of the day. This means you have extra willpower and motivation in the morning. Get your workout done if you’re usually too tired at the end of the day. Or write a chapter of the book you’ve been meaning to write for months. Do something that’s challenging for you, because you’re the most motivated in the morning and you’ll feel accomplished the rest of the day. Whatever it is, write it where you can see it and cross it off when it’s done in order to build a productive morning routine. 

Moore’s scheduling algorithm says to line up tasks you want to line up tasks in order of the soonest due date. Then, as soon as something’s about to be late, you toss out something that can be dropped, or outsource it to someone else. Your morning routine should not necessarily consist of a work task because this will mess with work-life balance. But, thinking of your goals through the lens of this algorithm can help you narrow down what you want to accomplish in the morning.