Despite COVID-19 leading to most office work being performed remotely this year, you are likely still constrained to a normal 9ish-to-5ish work schedule. While the lack of a commute might mean you can roll out of bed later in the morning, what if hitting snooze til 8am still isn’t enough to transform you into a glowing picture of energy when you power up at 9?
I don’t propose to turn night owls into early birds with these tips, but you may just find it a lot smoother going in the single-digit hours of the morning if you put them to use.
1. Start a Routine
Just as having a nightly pre-bed routine can help you sleep much better at night, getting a morning routine going can infinitely improve your ability to get energized in the morning. If you have trouble being really motivated as the sun rises, keep it simple and easy-going – no one should think jumping out of bed to run a marathon before your first meeting of the day is a be-all, end-all of success.
A few things you might try to work into your morning kick-off:
- Read a chapter of a book you keep by your nightstand. This will get your mind and creativity going without even having to get out of bed, so it’s a huge win for those of us that like to lay in even after we wake up. The only caveat to this tip would be to avoid it if you make reading part of your wind-down routine at night – you don’t want to confuse your subconscious into thinking it’s time for sleep again right after you wake up!
- Sit down at your table or on your sofa to enjoy your morning cuppa. Many people have made it a habit to get coffee on the go as they make their way in to the office (or more likely nowadays, slapping a passable cup together as they start checking email from home…). Taking 15 minutes to enjoy a pleasant beverage in the morning can not only give you some time to mentally ramp up for the day, but it’ll also get your body systems going smoothly – something being stressed and rushed never helps with. Better yet, combine this with the first tip if you simply can’t savor your tea or coffee without multi-tasking!
- Do some light stretches and jumping jacks. If you truly have no time at all to get up-and-running in the morning, no matter how flexible your schedule is, at least take a single minute to get your blood flowing after stepping out of bed. Breathing slows overnight, so briefly doing an energizing exercise will increase your heart and respiration, getting lots of oxygen to your brain to wake it up.
2. Eliminate Distractions
This one might involve some preparation if you aren’t already well-organized, but we’re not talking Monica Geller levels of planning! If you want your morning to be less crazed and more leisurely, try to eliminate as many of life’s distractions as you can that might interrupt you or force you to go from 0-to-60 in 10 seconds flat.
Make sure you end the previous day in an orderly state as much as possible – wrap up any emails, tasks, etc. before shutting down for the day. If you aren’t still fretting over something you left unfinished, your morning will be far less harried. And if you simply don’t have time to leave things in a completed form, at least end in a place you can easily pick up from so you can hold off on worrying about it until you start working again the next day.
If you have a family that needs your help getting going in the morning, too, try to have a few things planned the night before so that they don’t unpleasantly creep into your morning routine. Have simple breakfast options handy, like granola bars or cold cereal, and at least have a plan for lunch in mind before you go to sleep, so you can be sure there are the needed ingredients available and you aren’t left scrambling to throw something together at 8:30am.
Taking a few minutes to put some thought into tomorrow before calling it a night will allow you to sleep in later (guilt-free) and not wind up bombarded by last-minute issues as you try to get the day started.
3. Check the Mirror
Even if you’ll be spending the day in PJ pants while you work from home, you never know when you might need to hop on a video call, so do at least one quick pass of your appearance in a mirror before heading out the door (or to your home office desk).
It’s pretty astonishing how much your appearance can play into your morning mindset – spending a little time to style your hair, put on nice clothes, and maybe even wear a little makeup (if that’s your jam!) will make you feel better about yourself, and when you feel good in your skin, you’ll exude more confidence as you make your entrance at work.
While it’s incredibly tempting to spend every day working from a lounge chair in sweats and bedhead, even if you aren’t having video calls, you should give a little morning sprucing a try. You might be surprised how taking even just 10 minutes to put on a freshly-ironed shirt and tie, comb your hair, and otherwise appear a little more put-together will change your mindset about the morning.
4. Begin the Workday With Sunshine
With your feel-good pants on, thanks to the previous tip, this one will be much easier. However, those of you committed to the WFH lounge life can still benefit from putting on a happy face before you start the day.
Numerous studies have shown that even faking a smile releases the neurochemicals that improve our moods – there’s a physiological connection between the muscles that contract when we smile and the feel-good parts of our brains. Even more studies have shown that positive attitudes improve both health and productivity, so there’s really something to the old adage of leaving your troubles at the door.
One way to make this trick easier is to implement a delineation between work life and personal life. Whether that’s a conscious decision to switch mindsets as you step through the doorway of your office building or a mental process you go through as you log on to your laptop from home, having a division between work stresses and personal stresses will make it much easier for you to start work with a positive attitude in the morning.
As with a lot of things, you may not see effects from this until you make it an actual habit. Once it becomes second nature to do what makes you smile as you switch on for work, you’ll definitely find your mornings feel less intimidating.
5. Mind Your Morning Schedule
If all else fails, and you still can’t overcome your lack of get-up-and-go before noon, be mindful of what work activities you schedule earlier in the day.
- Don’t schedule meetings until a time that your rhythm has swung into high gear. That may not stop others from inviting you to early morning meetings, but at least you haven’t shot yourself in the foot by scheduling something when you won’t be at your best.
- Set aside time as often as possible during the window of your day when you perform at your peak. This is when you should focus on tasks and projects that require your best attention, and don’t feel shy about blocking time on your calendar if you need to. Knowing you have time set aside to work on important duties will take some pressure off your morning, if you aren’t at your best.
- Establish a settle-in routine when you start your day. Just as morning routines at home can help you get going easier, as can first-thing routines when you sit down at your desk (or boot up your computer from home). Make a point of taking the first 20 minutes of your workday to review emails, take stock of the day’s schedule, and organize a plan for your to-dos. Even just a short period of time doing some routine tasks each morning will help set you up for success every day.
Now that I’ve shared all of my favorite tips for making your morning experience more pleasant and productive, I’d love to hear your thoughts! What is your favorite way to get the day started? Do you have any morning routines you swear by? How do you manage mornings at work if you’re more productive in the later part of the day?