The Morning Advantage: How to Design an Early Productive Routine


No matter if you’re a morning or night person, the time we wake up is a state where our brain is highly programmable; In fact, research conducted by neuroscientists revealed that the brain’s prefrontal cortex, responsible for decision-making and focusexhibits higher activation levels in the morning compared to later in the day.

In other words, an effective morning routine is an automated routine that leaves room for you to utilize your energy on important things, such as working out, journaling, or any other habits that are crucial for a successful day.

So how do you design a productive morning routine? Here are three key elements:

Environmental Design for your Morning Routine

Want to start reading in the morning? Put a book on your nightstand. Want to use social media less in the morning? Make the selected apps unavailable for a period of time by toggling some switches on your phone.

Make the first step easy. Personally, I’m always somewhat dazed after waking up, and the last thing I can think of doing is packing my bag or choosing an outfit for the day.

That’s why pre-planning everything you’ll need for the day, like your bag, an outfit, or a lunch box is crucial to allow yourself to focus on the important things you want to get done early.

Task Chunking

In addition to focusing on the first step of a given task, dividing the task into smaller steps will not only increase the chances of it getting done, but it will also have a positive mental effect because it’ll ensure a sense of progression.

For instance, if I’d like to make a nutritious breakfast, I should pre-plan the ingredients I need, gather the tools I’ll need first, make the dish second, then serve it last.

It’s also beneficial to chunk time instead of tasks, particularly when there’s a task that cannot be finished within the available time, such as an essay. For instance, the pomodoro technique is an efficient way to use time intentionally in the morning, and it’s worth mentioning that it’s a highly flexible method.

Habit Stacking/Pairing

Most people have set things they’ll do after they wake up that they’ll rarely refrain from doing, such as changing their clothes or brushing their teeth. When it comes to introducing new habits or relighting old ones, already set habits are something you can easily take advantage of.

For example, let’s say I want to start meditating in the morning. I always make my bed in the morning, so after I do that I’ll sit on my desk chair and follow a 5-minute guided meditation routine, and after that, I’ll continue as usual with my other automated habits. This is called habit stacking because I’m using a preexisting habit as a cue to start another one.

Habit pairing, on the other hand, can look like journaling while eating breakfast. While it may be negative to multitask in such a way, habit pairing allows for multiple tasks to get done which is desirable in an effective routine design.

To summarize, creating an automated morning routine is essential to progress on personal tasks and to create the base for a successful day. When it comes to incorporating new habits, it’s important to focus on techniques such as simplifying the task, dividing it into smaller steps, and using preexisting habits as an advantage. Thus, finding techniques to make essential tasks easier is key to designing a successful morning routine.

If you want to learn more about creating epic habits, read on here.

Source: Vandewalle, G. et al, (2010). Effects of light on cognitive brain responses depend on circadian phase and sleep homeostasis.

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Tagged as creating habits, habits, mindset, morning routine, productivity

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