7 Keys to Productive Mornings

How many times in your life have you woken up in the morning groggy, ready to throw in the towel, and surrender once again to the Sandman? Snooze buttons, missed alarms, mornings cut short, and even showing up late to school and work are all symptoms of being a professional snooze artist, creating a chaotic work of reluctant art.

The reality is that for many of us, waking up in the morning is one of the most difficult steps of the day, and a poorly-managed morning can send us spiraling into our day, disaster imminent. However, with a few small considerations, we can begin to take steps to being able to manage, and escape, the trap of our covers.

1. Go to Bed on Time

The first step in having a productive morning begins the night before. When we sleep, our bodies go through sleep cycles. Each sleep cycle lasts about an hour and a half. The majority of our time sleeping is spent in deep sleep. It is in deep sleep where we are most rejuvinated, but when we wake in the middle of deep sleep, we are groggy. So when we wake in between those cycles, it’s easier to wake up. This is why taking a quick 10-15 minute power nap can leave us more refreshed than a 30 minute nap.

So the strategy is to plan to go to bed at the right time. For example, if I need to be up at 7:00 am, I need to fall asleep around 10:00 pm, knowing I need at least 9 hours of sleep (6 sleep cycles). I take around 15 minutes to fall asleep (the average person takes 15-20 minutes), so if I’m in bed at 9:45, that will be perfect.

The reality is that I can’t always make that deadline. So instead of going to bed at 10:30 (which would put me in the middle of deep sleep at my alarm) I’ll stay up a bit later, and go to bed at 11:15 instead, essentially cutting a cycle out of my sleep, but my morning will be much smoother.

2. Don’t Touch Your Phone

At least not for the first 15-30 minutes. Having everything in your life in one place – emails, texts, social media, apps, news, etc – is so convienient, and can set us up for great success throughout our day. However, when all that information comes pouring in within the first few minutes of being awake, our minds can get distracted, and we often get clustered. At the very least, our morning gets slowed down by scrolling through facebook while lying in bed.

I would recommend using a non-phone device as a morning alarm, and leaving your phone elsewhere. If you use a phone as an alarm, after waking up, drop the phone onto the floor, or into the bed-stand drawer. Don’t get slowed doen by your phone in the morning.

3. Pray

Let this be the first thing you do when your feet touch the floor; fall to your knees. Like, actually. Kneel.

In doing so, we give the Lord our entire day. We come before the Lord in humility and gratitude. First, thank Him for the life that He has given us. Second, offer your entire day to the Lord. Give God permission to be present to you the whole day, and allow Him to give you the grace to carry through.

This whole process can take 30 seconds. In fact, if it takes longer, you might be asleep. Simply taking a moment to offer every subsequent moment to the Lord is vital to living the Christian life.

4. Stretch

Just do it.

5. Make your Bed

No, this isn’t coming from your mother. This is coming from William H. McRaven, Admiral of the U.S. Navy, in his address to the graduating class of the University of Texas. He speaks of 10 lessons from Navy SEAL training to help change the world. Click here to watch the full video:

He says that when we make our bed, which is “simple, mundaine at best,” we will have accomplished our first task of the day. This in turn will give us a boost in pride, which will lead us to do another task, and another. “That one task completed will turn into many tasks completed.” In completion of making our beds, we teach ourselves that the small things in life matter. “if we never do the little things right, we’ll never be able to do the big things right.”

Also, sometimes our days can be miserable, but when we come back to a bed that is made (by us!), we are filled with, once again, a sense that something was completed, and that tomorrow will be better.

6. Drink Water

If you’ve gotten a full night’s sleep, that means it’s been at least 6-9 hours since you’ve last hydrated. A glass of water can rehydrate, as well as kickstart your immune system. From my own experience, I feel more energized throughout the whole after a glass of water in the morning.  Also, it’s recommended (by science!) that you drink 6-8 glasses (9-13 cups) of water, so why not get a head start on the day?

7. Sing in the Shower

At least get some music playing. Music gets our brain thinking creatively, and some good jams in the morning can get our blood pumping. Spotify has a great playlist for this very occastion. Singing in the shower also decreases stress. Trust me, just try it. Also, when we sing, we can loosen up our face and or vocal chords, so when we see people in the office or at school, we don’t look like we we just hit by a train.

In following these 7 steps, we can set up ourselves for success, and be healthier physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It takes a committment to follow these steps, but in doing so, we can establish a healthy morning routine that sets us up for sucess the rest of the day.