While not everyone is a natural morning person, the benefits of using your mornings productively are too good to deny. So whether you’re a dawn go-getter or a chronic snooze pusher, here are 4 morning habits that will ensure you have the fuel to create a supercharged productive day.
1. Wake Up Early
I’m sorry, did you cringe while reading that? Well, it turns out that there is a lot of wisdom behind the old adage of “the early bird catches the worm”. Some of the most successful people in history have been proponents of waking early, including Benjamin Franklin who famously said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
Despite the willpower it may take some of us to rise bright and early, there is something irrefutably energizing about waking up with the sun while the world is still calm and quiet. This may be your only “quiet” or “alone” time of the day, so it is a great time for self-reflection, meditation and relaxation before the hustle and bustle of the day begins.
Being productive early in the morning sets us up for an even more productive day ahead. If you start your day by checking “to-do’s” off your list, it will motivate you to continue the trend in the following hours. Even though waking up 30 or 40 minutes earlier each day doesn’t seem like a whole lot of time, it could mean having nearly 4 extra hours of productivity each week. Think of all the things you could get done in that time, and how much stress would be relieved by knowing crucial tasks have been completed and knocked off the to-do lit, all while your peers are still sleeping.
While one of the last things you may feel like doing in the morning is breaking a sweat, it’s actually one of the best times of day to exercise, for numerous reasons. In the early hours, hormones that are crucial to stimulating neurotransmitters and endorphins, such as dopamine and serotonin (our “happy hormones “) are especially sensitive, meaning that by moving your body, your brain will become enhanced with a sense of wellbeing and becomes more resistant to stress. Additionally, exercising early provides a metabolic boost that helps your body to utilize fat as energy more efficiently throughout the rest of your day, which means accelerated fat loss, less food cravings, more sustained energy levels, and improved mental focus. Why improved mental focus? When you exercise in the morning, your Central Nervous System (CNS) increases neurological activity in your brain, which increases your ability to think clearly. Additionally, exercise helps you maintain stable blood sugar level throughout the day, which increases alertness and focus.
Business Tip: Never go into a meeting with low blood sugar. Low blood sugar creates a panicked environment in your brain and negatively effects your ability to stay centred and sharp. The perfect pre-meeting meal is generous dose of healthy fats. Healthy fats are superfoods for the brain, especially omega 3’s, so having eggs and avocado for breakfast is ideal before important morning meetings or negotiations. To prevent disaster in the case you get caught off-guard with a last-minute meeting, keep a stash of raw almonds, macadamias, or Brazil nuts at your desk. A small handful before the meeting will do the trick.
When it comes to early exercise, not only are there physical benefits to getting your body moving in the morning, but it also empowers you to be extra motivated to make beneficial, healthy decisions throughout your day. Knowing that you worked hard towards health and fitness at the beginning of the day will help you to continue the trend and avoid the temptations that lurk in the office, classroom or home. That half-eaten bag of leftover Valentine’s chocolates won’t stand a chance against your newly found determination.
3. Have a Good Breakfast
Did you ever scoff at your mother when she told you that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”? Well, if you did, you best be calling up your mama to apologize, because scientific studies have shown that she was right.
When you wake up from a night’s sleep, your body has basically been fasting, which is a good thing – but it makes the next meal that you eat especially important. If you break your fast by bombing yourself with sugar, such as the typical carb-heavy breakfast consisting of grains and fruit juice, you’ve just activated your “sugar is our fuel today” switch, meaning that all day long you’re chemically wired to crave carbs, which results in both internal and external stress. Sound familiar?
Having a nutritious meal in the morning means eating healthy fats and fibres, which helps to fuel your brain and supercharge your body, ensuring that they are working together optimally by regulating glucose levels. Getting essential nutrients within a couple hours of waking has shown to improve brain function, enhance memory, and reduce stress, making a nourishing start to your day a non-negotiable habit to ensure that you are priming your body and mind for success.
The exception to breakfast is when you’re intermittent fasting, which can be a highly effective health-enhancing and weight loss tool, but it needs to be done right.
Health Hack: From consulting to thousands of clients over the past 17 years, I’ve observed that even while intermittent fasting, having a small dose of healthy fats soon after waking up actually accelerates fat loss, improves energy levels and significantly boosts cognitive function. Just to be clear, intermittent fasting does not simply mean temporarily starving yourself. The true magic (and science) behind intermittent fasting is the chemical response that your body undergoes during this extended fasting period (Typically 14-20 hours), which increases your natural detoxification potential, accelerates metabolic functions, and enhances the immune system, among other benefits. But you can still get all these benefits when you intermittent fast, and more, by consuming healthy liquid fats such as coconut oil and/or MCT oil, ideally within 60-90 minutes of waking up. You can down a tablespoon old school style and just tilt your head back and send it down the hatch, or you could add a tablespoon to your morning coffee… it’s all the craze these days.
Oh- by the way, MCT oil is a unique type of fat (Medium Chain Triglyceride) that is extracted from coconut oil. Most people know (or have heard) that coconut oil is a healthy fat source- even a superfood, but few people actually know what makes it so super. Well, one of the reasons is that coconut oil contains about 60% MCT’s, making it the highest natural source of this particular chain of fat. Medium Chain Triglycerides are a type of fat that are very efficiently used as fuel in the body, stimulating the effect of fat burning and helping your body to become more efficient at utilizing it’s own stores of body fat as fuel.
I’m not sure what you had for breakfast today, but I hope that this health hack tip will positively influence how you break your fast tomorrow…. .
4. Prioritize “Me Time”
When we wake up with just enough time to roll out of bed, jump in the shower, grab breakfast and get out the door, we are neglecting a valuable component of productivity: “Me Time”. Rushing to start your day encourages frustration and disorganization (how many times have you impatiently yelled “where’s my other shoe?!” as you frantically raced towards the door?) On the contrary, easing into the day with a calm sense of purpose will help you face the hours to come with serenity and clarity.
Take the time to reflect on the previous day and your goals for the day to come, giving yourself positive reinforcement for any difficult tasks ahead. And most importantly: BREATHE!
Whether “Me Time” entails meditation, prayer, self-reflection or diving into a good book, having some quiet time for introspection is a surefire way to boost productivity. This is a time to be alone with your thoughts, so be sure to silence your cell phones and shutdown your laptop: the world can wait!