Your morning routine can ultimately determine your overall productivity. People who start off their day in a systematic stress-free manner are generally very productive people. Below is a list of 10 steps I use every morning to help increase my productivity.
1. Record next day activities in your journal the night before. Waking up and questioning the day's activities is the wrong way to start your day. Fewer decisions decrease overall cognitive load (more on this later). I carry a journal with me to write down whatever I need to do the next day, the night before.
2. Have everything prepared the night before. Waking up to dirty dishes and an inability to find whatever items you need to start your day can cause a lot of unnecessary stress. I always ensure my kitchen is spotless the night before and complete as much food preparation as possible.
3. Put your phone on airplane mode at least an hour before bed. The last thing you want just before going to bed is a busy mind ruminating over emails, texts and social media updates. The bright LED screen also disrupts your pineal gland from releasing melatonin that can cause a restless night's sleep. I usually go to bed around 10 o'clock, so I put my phone on airplane mode between 8-9 o'clock. To my friends reading this, that's why I don't text back late night.
4. Leave your phone on airplane mode for at least the first two hours after waking up. I know a lot of people who use their phone as an alarm. They tend to check their email, texts, Twitter, Facebook and whatever else they have on their phone as soon as they wake up. This is not a Zen way to start your day. I get up at 6:00 each morning, so I leave it on airplane mode until around 8 a.m.
5. Start your day with a little Himalayan sea salt in water. This is a tip I learned from Dave Asprey (the bulletproof executive) when he appeared on the Joe Rogan Podcast. Dave theorizes that when you wake up in the morning, your adrenals are pumping out catecholamines to boost your energy and bring up your blood pressure. This requires a lot of energy and leads to your adrenals burning out mid-afternoon (mid afternoon drowsiness). I've used the Himalayan salt protocol with excellent success. Combined with other lifestyle modifications, this allows me to complete a full workday without taking a break. I don't get tired during the day, and am a firm believer that this is a major contributing factor. I only recommend this to those who are normotensive (normal blood pressure) and who do not take blood pressure medication.
6. Drink bulletproof coffee. I've written about bulletproof coffee before and have discussed the health and cognitive benefits on Rogers daytime TV. In case you missed it you can find a link to the recipe here. The only alteration I make is adding cardamom seeds. Cardamom seeds are widely used in Ayurveda medicine to help balance the Pitta Dosha (and I am mostly pitta dosha). I consume one cup when I get up and sip on another until around 2 p.m. I don't consume any caffeine after 2 p.m. because it disrupts my sleep.
7. Do some heart rate variability training. This is another subject that I have written about before. For the full story about HRV training, read my blog. I do five to 10 minutes of HRV training every morning before work. It definitely helps me become more zen and is a great way to turn off an inappropriate fight or flight response.
8. Have your clothes ready the night before. I don't have my clothes laid out on my bed the night before but there's minimal decision making about what I'm going to wear each day. Steve Jobs was known for wearing Levi's jeans and a black turtleneck everyday. His cognitive load on what to wear everyday was zero, which allowed him to reserve his decision-making ability for more important issues. I have four pairs of Lulu lemon dress pants which I wear Monday-Thursday and jeans on casual Fridays. I also make sure to only purchase wrinkle-free shirts, which I can easily throw in the dryer with a wet face cloth to get the wrinkles out quickly. My cognitive load isn't zero like Steve Jobs, but it's minimal and causes me zero stress.
9. Get up 10 minutes earlier. You don't want to be struggling to just barely get to work on time every single day. That's unnecessary stress that can easily be rectified by waking up 10 minutes earlier. Make sure you have plenty of time to properly prepare yourself for the day ahead. I wake up at 6 a.m., even though I don't work until 8 a.m.
10. Listen to meditation music in the morning. I love cranking angry Eminem music as much as anyone else, but I save it for when I need a personal best in the gym. Make sure you have your music ready to go the night before, and if you're using a YouTube video to play music, have all the other windows closed in the morning. There's no point in putting your phone on airplane mode if you're going to check your email on your computer.
This is the morning routine I use to help increase my overall productivity. It has worked well for me and hopefully some of these tips may help you as well. I'm always looking for new ways to increase my productivity, so if you have any tips, please share. Thanks for reading.
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Follow Dr Mike Hart on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@drmikehart