If we have all day to get things done, why are we more productive in the morning? ‘Morning rituals’ is the latest catchphrase in the self-help industry with every guru spouting the value of waking up early. It has reached a point where you’re led to believe that you need to wake up at an unearthly hour if your want to be successful.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Ultimately, it’s not the time you wake up that matters. What really counts is what you do with the time you have. Let’s look at some of the most common morning ritual mistakes.
1. Waking up early when you’re a night owl
We’re all different individuals. Some people are like larks and have no problem getting up early, but these larks struggle to stay up late. Their natural circadian rhythm and genetic make up predisposes them to waking early.
At the other end of the spectrum are those who wake around 10 am or later. They struggle to wake up early but have no problems staying awake well into the night. They’re fully alert even if it’s 3 am.
The biggest mistake one can make is to force themselves to wake up early when it’s not something that aligns with their circadian rhythm. Pay attention to whether you prefer working late at night, and adjust your work schedule so that you get your most productive work done when everyone else is asleep.
In cases like these, your ‘morning’ routine will actually be later in the day or even in the afternoon because your waking hours are different. Nevertheless, the concept of a routine still applies.
If you have no issues waking early, you can easily train yourself to wake up earlier than normal. However, you can forget about burning the midnight oil and working through the night.
Work in a way that’s ideal for you. There’s no need to emulate the waking hours of some top CEO just because someone on social media is telling you to.
2. Piling on unnecessary activities will derail your productivity in the morning
Another common mistake people make with morning rituals is doing other activities first… instead of doing first things first. Some people wake at 5 am and start meditating and journaling, and doing yoga followed by a long walk and of course, they have to have a healthy breakfast.
They think they’re starting on the right foot but by the time they’re ready to work, it’s 9.00 am, and they realize 4 hours are gone, and no real work has been done. The other activities do have their benefits, but shelve them till later in the day.
When you wake, after you’ve freshened up, now is the best time to start working on your most important tasks for the day first. Consider what i most important to accomplish when you are putting together your to-do list for the day. Always remember to keep the main thing the main thing and work on tasks that move the needle when you’re still fresh.
After 4 to 5 hours of focused work, you’ll need a break. Now you can do your gratitude journaling, meditation and other activities that help you stay sane.
3. Exercising too hard
Exercise is great, but the workout intensity will have a direct impact on your workday. If you train hard at the gym with supersets, and countless reps, you’ll be exhausted after you work out. The same applies to those who engage in high intensity interval training.
While exercises like walking, swimming or cycling first thing in the morning can leave you feeling refreshed, other workouts like CrossFit, heavy resistance training and so on can leave you feeling wiped out.
So consider getting it done after your important work is done. If you trained hard early in the day, you might not have the energy later on to focus on the tasks that require more mental energy.
In conclusion, it will take you a few weeks of iteration before you have a morning routine that’s ideal for you. Always remember to reflect on how the morning routine makes you feel and if it’s aiding in your productivity. Once your routine is set, you have to stick with it – and no matter what you do, whether it’s a weekday or a weekend, always wake up at the same time daily so that your circadian clock is not disrupted.
Effective Sleep Tips
to Increase Productivity
And sometimes our morning routines start the night before, with our quality and quantity of sleep. Sleep is definitely key to being more productive in the morning. Every single day when you wake up, you have a finite amount of energy. As you go throughout your day, your energy dissipates on different mental and physical tasks. This is why your willpower is weakest at night. Most people binge eat at night or watch too much TV when they know they need to rest and so on. They lack the energy to maintain will power. The best way to boost your energy and get the most out of your day will be to get sufficient sleep. You end up feeling well-rested and brimming with energy to start your day. Here are a few quick tips for a good night’s sleep.
> Have a fixed sleep routine for more productivity in the morning
What does that mean? It means going to bed and waking up at the SAME TIME daily. This one tip alone is better than all the rest combined. It’s that important. Try to go to bed and wake up at a fixed time so that you will establish the habit and your body will automatically start to feel sleepy at the usual time, and be refreshed when it’s time to wake. Your circadian rhythm is now in sync.
> Get the right amount of sleep
We live in times where we are told that hustling and grinding and burning the midnight oil is held up as the standard. You supposedly have a higher chance of achieving success if you sacrifice sleep for work. Most people need more than 4 hours a day to be productive. Sleeping less and going about your day bleary-eyed and groggy is a sure-fire way to failure in the long run. You need to get your required amount of sleep.
This is how you discover how much sleep you need… Go to bed at the same time every day for 3 days in a row and wake up without an alarm clock. Only wake when you feel refreshed and no longer sleepy. Take note of how many hours you sleep on each of the 3 days. On the third day, add up all the hours and divide it by 3. This will give you the average… and that’s how many hours of sleep your body needs a day. Forget about what the CEOs and other people who barely sleep say… and instead listen to your body. You’ll not only feel better, but will achieve more. It’s not the number of hours you’re awake that matters… but what you do with those hours that make all the difference.
> Have good sleep hygiene
Besides the 2 major points above, there are several other smaller factors that play a role too.
- Sleep in a dark room. The less light in it, the better.
- Avoid using digital devices such as your mobile phones, tablets, etc. The blue light emitted by these devices will interrupt your sleep patterns.
- Avoid consuming caffeine 8 hours before bedtime. The half-life of caffeine can adversely affect your sleep.
- Practice yoga or stretching to ease tight muscles and release tension in your body. It’s also important to have a firm mattress so that your body is well-supported.
- Do not exercise or eat too close to your bedtime. Exercise will boost your energy levels and keep you awake. Eating will mean that your body will have to spend energy digesting food while you sleep… and will not be able to rest fully.
- Other than that, you may wish to consume a supplement to aid with sleep. Aromatherapy and meditation may help too.
At the end of the day, if you get the first 2 points above right, it’s just a matter of testing a few other methods to see what works for you. In most cases, once you establish a pattern, you’ll sleep like a baby and will have sufficient rest to do your best the next day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is your brain more productive in the morning?
With the right night’s sleep, our brains can be more productive in the morning because they are refreshed and ready to go. Same as other parts of our bodies, we refresh at night so that we wake up regenerated in the morning.
Why do I work better in the morning?
I have to admit, I am this type of person. My most productive time is before lunch. I feel more proactive, less prone to procrastination, and pretty much ready to go.
Are morning people more productive?
Apparently less than 1% of the population are actually night owls. Who knew??? Early risers tend to be less fatigued and less irritable (provided that they’ve gotten a good night’s sleep). When we set ourselves up for success by getting a good night’s sleep, most of us are actually more productive in the morning.