3 Simple Morning Habits That Will Power Up Your Day
How small habits can make a big difference
Have you ever had those days where your alarm goes off at 7 am but you go back to sleep only to wake up 5 hours later?
“How you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.” — Daniel Handler
Mornings are important. They determine how the rest of the day is going to be. How successful and enjoyable it will be.
So if you want to have a productive day, you need to have a productive morning routine.
The best way to have a great day is by ticking off some things from the to-do list even before you start your work.
Completing small simple tasks in the morning will cause your brain to release dopamine, which is connected to feelings of pleasure, learning, and motivation.
So it will make you feel more motivated and boost your confidence to conquer the rest of the day.
James Clear explains in his book Atomic Habits how the best way to form habits is by making them extremely easy to complete and connecting them to ones that you already have.
For example, cleaning the kitchen counters right after washing the dishes is a habit I have. What started as a conscious decision to clean everything at once became a mindless habit that I do on autopilot.
So what habits can you add to your morning routine that will be easy and quick to do every day?
1. Two Minute Workout
Everyone has “working out more” as a new year resolution either every year or at least once in their life.
The thing about working out is that pretty much everyone knows by now that it is good for our bodies and mind to be active.
So why don’t we all do it?
Why don’t we put some time aside every day or even once a week to go to the gym or simply go for a walk?
It’s because it’s time-consuming.
When you think “I’m going to work out for 1 hour every day”, you don’t have to make time in your schedule for only that 1 hour that you’re actually exercising.
You also have to make time for the 10 to 30 minutes it might take you to get ready beforehand. As well as the 10 to 30 minutes that might take you to shower after it, dress, etc.
So in total that would be around 2 hours of your day.
So if you want to work out in the morning before work, you will need to wake up 2 hours earlier than usual. This means that you will need to go to sleep 2 hours earlier than you usually do so that you don’t feel like a zombie the next day.
So you might feel extremely motivated to do all this at first. You might even do it for a couple of days. But it probably won't last in the long run.
You cannot form a new habit by making such a big change in your routine.
“When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.” — James Clear
To form a habit that you will stick to, you need to make it easy for you to actually do it.
So instead of going from nothing to a one-hour workout every day, make it easy and quick to complete by working out for only 2 minutes.
Why this works:
First, it is so much easier to get up and do something when you know it will only take you 2 minutes.
And you might be wondering, will a 2-minute workout actually do anything?
And the answer is YES!
According to a study made in 2018, short bursts of ultra high-intensity exercise are effective in triggering beneficial changes in the cells that could reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
And another research found that engaging in 90-second intervals of high-intensity exercise 3 times per week helped lower blood pressure.
But even if you don’t see those results, you will definitely feel better than if you didn’t do it.
Not only because you can now cross something off your to-do list, but especially because of the increase in all the brain chemicals.
“When you exercise, it increases endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline and endocannabinoid — these are all brain chemicals associated with feeling happy, feeling confident, feeling capable, feeling less anxiety and stress and even less physical pain” — Dr. Kelly McGonigal.
2. Read for 20 minutes
Everyone wants to read more. This might be the second most popular New Year’s resolution right after wanting to workout more.
The problem is that it is so much easier to watch Netflix than to focus on reading a book.
But books are the best teachers you can have. And you can get them for very cheap or even for free.
So imagine if you were reading as much as you watch TV. Or for as much time as you spend scrolling on social media.
You’d probably be a completely different person right now. You’d know so many new things, you’d be calmer, smarter, happier.
So why don’t you read more?
The most common answer people give to this question is that they “don’t have time”.
They are “too busy” to sit down and read an entire book.
But this kind of thought is very limiting. And, if you think about it, it doesn’t make much sense.
You can read a chapter a day or even a page if you really don’t have much free time.
So don’t use time as an excuse to not read more.
Why this works:
Reading is so beneficial to your life. It can actually affect it in ways that you might not even realize. Research shows that regular reading:
- improves brain connectivity
- increases your vocabulary and comprehension
- empowers you to empathize with other people
- aids in sleep readiness
- reduces stress
- lowers blood pressure and heart rate
- fights depression symptoms
- prevents cognitive decline as you age
- contributes to a longer life
By reading for just 20 minutes every morning, you’ll not only feel better about accomplishing something early in the day, but it will also improve your mood throughout the day.
When I read fiction in the morning, I feel more creative throughout the day.
When I read non-fiction in the morning, I feel inspired and motivated throughout the day.
What you read is up to you. Just read whatever you feel like it and have fun with it.
That’s what really helps you make it into a habit.
Journaling is a helpful tool in managing your mental health. It can help you control your symptoms and improve your mood by:
- Helping you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns;
- Tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them;
- Providing an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors.
You can write about your day, about what’s troubling you and what you’ll do about it. Or even follow a journaling prompt and answer specific questions that will help you feel inspired, motivated, happy, and at peace.
What I do every single morning is called future self journaling. A practice where you use repetition and consistency to break negative patterns of thought and replace them with new affirming ones.
Created by Dr. Nicole LePera, this practice focuses on creating conscious awareness around your behaviors and patterns.
By taking 5 to 10 minutes every morning to answer the 7 prompts, I am able to break my negative self-talk pattern and focus on all the good things in my life.
Why this works:
Taking time every day to think and write positive things about who you are and who you’re becoming is incredibly motivating. It’s self-care.
It feels like when a friend comforts you and hypes you up.
But you are doing it to yourself.
That feels even more special because you know everything that you’ve been through.
And you know you’re not just saying these things to be nice.
It works because you reflect on yourself and work on becoming a better person and there’s nothing more motivating than that.
It’s easier to check things off your to-do list in the morning because you’re still recharged and don’t have decision fatigue. And it will make you feel proud that you were able to complete it and still have the whole day ahead of you.
And it doesn’t have to take you 1 hour to complete it for it to be productive.
By adding one of these 3 small habits to your morning routine, you’ll see an increase in productivity, motivation, and overall happiness.
And if you keep them short, it will be easier for you to stick to them.