This article was originally published on Healthline.
Beep! Beep! Beep! Your alarm goes off. Panic! You’ve overslept and pressed the snooze button one too many times. Now, all you can do is struggle to find the energy to get out of bed.
Every morning is the same. As hard as you try to wake up in good enough time to get the kids ready for school, have breakfast, or plan your to-do list, time just seems to slip between your fingers. Sound familiar?
The above scenario is an all too familiar scenario for many of us who find mornings extremely busy and stressful. It’s no wonder we don’t want to get out of bed! Some might say the solution would be to wake up one or two hours earlier than you do now … but then, when would you sleep?
Instead of trying to force yourself into a new routine when you already have a gazillion other things on your plate, a simpler and more effective method to taking back your morning is to add to your already existing habits.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to both have a productive morning and manage to get to work on time without any drastic changes to your routine. If you want to transform your morning from stressful to productive, read on for these top tips.
1. Do your squats while brushing your teeth
So, you already know that a bit of light exercise in the morning can help you feel more alert and energized for the day ahead. But rather than wake up a whole hour earlier to fit in a workout, why not work some exercise into a habit you’ve already mastered? Namely, brushing your teeth.
Brushing your teeth in the morning is one of the first habits most of us master, so multitasking should be a breeze. According to John J. Ratey, MD, author of “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain,” activating the large muscle groups in the thighs and butt activates the blood flow to the brain.
Some light exercise while you’re getting ready for the day ahead can help get those creative juices flowing before you’ve even left the house. Air squats are especially easy to do while brushing your teeth. Just make sure you’re doing them right so you get all their benefits without injury.
2. Set an alarm for everything
This is a simple yet effective tip. Do you easily get caught up in taking far too much time on one activity in the morning? Most of us do. Sometimes, you take longer doing your hair or take longer picking out an outfit (pro tip: pick your next day’s clothes out before you go to bed!). Or perhaps you just can’t seem to get anything done.
Use your phone to spur you on to when you should be moving on to your next task. That way, you can ensure that you set off for work — with everything done — in the right amount of time.
3. Make Voice Notes your new friend
I’m sure you’ll agree that some of our best ideas have come while you’re in the shower or bath. So why not utilize that time when your brain is most relaxed to go through everything you need to get done that day?
Before you get in the shower, turn on your favorite voice note app and simply say out loud everything that needs to get done that day as it pops into your head. Then, you can listen back to the recording and write the hard-to-remember ones down. (Some apps will do that for you!)
4. Repeat your mantra
If you’re prone to forgetting your keys, wallet, or phone in the morning, then it could be beneficial for you to create a mantra you can repeat to yourself, aloud, before you walk out the door.
As you’re putting your shoes on, say out loud to yourself: “Phone! Wallet! Keys!” on repeat. Then start collecting said items while repeating your mantra.
Who cares if you sound a bit silly? At least you’re the only one who can hear yourself! It’s also advisable to keep all of these items in a tray or on a hook near your door so you can easily grab them as you leave the house.
5. Make your commute mentally active
If you’re fed up of being forced to stare at your own reflection in the window (or a stranger’s armpit) when the Wi-Fi is out on the train or bus, why not make the most out of those minutes of solitude away from Twitter, emails, and texts?
Many of us listen to music, which can help stimulate the brain for some of us. But you could also use that time to learn something — whether it’s a topic you’re already interested in or something completely out of the box. (Ever wondered why wedding dresses are white? There’s a podcast about it!)
Download some interesting podcasts or audiobooks you want to read but can never quite find the time for. Then, your commute back and forth from work won’t feel like such a time suck. This works for people who drive to work, too.
Ultimately, establishing a positive morning routine is the key to having a productive and inspiring day. While we can all aim to set time aside to exercise, get inspired, and plan for the day ahead before the rest of the world (or your kids) wake up, making the most of your existing routine can drastically change your day for the better.
Scarlett Dixon is a U.K.–based journalist, lifestyle blogger, and YouTuber who runs networking events in London for bloggers and social media experts. She has a keen interest in speaking out about anything that might be deemed taboo and a lengthy bucket list. She’s also a keen traveler and is passionate about sharing the message that IBS doesn’t have to hold you back in life! Visit her website and tweet her @Scarlett_London.