Originally found on: http://www.learnvest.com/2015/10/morning-activities-to-boost-productivity/
Even if you pop out of bed with every intention of having a productive day, it’s easy to get derailed.
Let’s be honest—who hasn’t gotten sidetracked first thing in the morning checking social media or reading up on what everyone thought of last night’s “Walking Dead” episode?
Here’s the thing: How you kick off your morning can set the tone—and momentum—for getting things done throughout the day.
So we’ve rounded up six quick (because we know how important getting enough shut-eye is, too) and easy ways to jump-start your morning with power and purpose to set yourself up for a killer productive day.
Power Morning Move #1: Fit In a 7-Minute Workout
While we know it’s easier said than done to roll out of bed as the sun is coming up, budgeting some extra time to exercise in the a.m. can help give you lasting energy for the entire day.
Research shows that fitting in a workout helps improve mental functioning and memory—helping to make you more productive.
And did we mention it can also help keep you trim? A 2013 study found that working out before breakfast helps burn 20% more body fat than if you schedule a workout later in the day.
The Morning Move: Check out the New York Times’ “The Scientific 7-Minute Workout,” an at-home routine that features 12 high-intensity interval-training moves that use just your body weight, a chair and a wall.
There’s even an app for it so you can exercise anywhere, anytime—even in your pj’s.
Power Morning Move #2: Bliss Out With a 2-Minute Meditation
Convinced you don’t have the time or the discipline to meditate every day? Well, if you can spare 120 seconds, you do.
While that may not sound like much time, multiple studies have shown that even brief doses of meditation come with a slew of benefits that can boost your career—from making you cognitively sharper and more focused to improving decision-making.
The Morning Move: Zen Habits blogger and best-selling author Leo Babauta recommends sitting still and, for just two minutes, keeping your attention focused on your breath as it comes into your body and goes out.
“When your mind wanders, take note of that, but then gently come back to the breath,” Babauta has said. “That’s it—no mantra, no emptying of the mind, no perfect lotus position, no meditation hall or guru. Just pay attention to your breath.”
Babauta explains that these small bouts of meditation each morning can help you feel a bit calmer, less distracted, and less reactive during the day—especially when work stress creeps up on you.
Not bad for two minutes of your time, right?
Power Morning Move #3: Draft a Thoughtful Things-Not-To-Do List
We all have mile-long to-do lists that we semi-diligently try to tackle each day, but a surprising productivity secret is actually doing the opposite—thinking of things that, no matter how much you may want to do them, you can skip doing for 24 hours.
The Morning Move: Make a short anti-to-do list of typical time wasters you want to avoid that day, recommends Carson Tate, author of “Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style.”
Maybe your list includes dodging unnecessary meetings or even limiting the amount of time you spend on that ultimate time waster—email!
While you probably can’t go email-free for too many hours of the day, Tate suggests at least not starting your day by checking email.
“It’s counterintuitive, but I always tell clients that emails in your inbox are everyone else’s agendas,” Tate says. “They represent what everyone wants from you—their goals and objectives. Why not start your day with your own goals and objectives?”
Power Morning Move #4: Listen to a Power Podcast
The 5 AM Miracle is a weekly podcast that’s dedicated to “dominating your day” before breakfast by focusing on healthy habits, personal development and productivity.
“Waking up with intention, with a plan and with a solidified purpose can make a dramatic difference, not only in your day but more importantly in your future success,” host Jeff Sanders notes.
The Morning Move: Tune in to a new podcast once a week or download one of the 100-plus shows from the archive.
Sanders and guests cover an array of topics geared toward becoming more efficient and productive, such as “How to Create Your Ideal Morning Routine,” “A Sharper Perspective on Getting Things Done” and “The Definitive Guide to Inbox Zero.”
Making one decision after another uses up mental energy, leading to what’s called “decision fatigue.” You may have used up your best brainpower mulling over the options for your a.m. latte.
Power Morning Move #5: Do The Dishes (Yes, You Heard Right!)
Rolling up your sleeves to hand wash a sink full of dirty dishes from last night’s dinner may be the last thing you want to do first thing in the morning, but a recent study found that mindfully cleaning dishes—in other words, staying in the moment while scrubbing away—reduced anxiety and made study subjects feel more inspired.
Who doesn’t want to kick off their day this way? But in order to truly reap the benefits, you have to do it right.
The Morning Move: Buddhist monk “Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that, while washing dishes, we should only pay attention to the experience of washing dishes and attend to the full sensory experience—the warmth of the water, the scent of the soap, the texture of each dish or utensil,” explains the study’s lead author, Adam Hanley.
Hanley chose to study dishwashing because it’s such a common task and so sensory-rich—and subsequently found that study participants who mindfully washed dishes reported a decrease in nervousness and a boost in inspiration.
Meanwhile, another group that simply washed dishes without practicing mindfulness didn’t experience any emotional changes—just clean plates.
Power Morning Move #6: Name Your Top 2 Goals for the Day
We make choices all day long—from picking an outfit to deciding how to approach a major project at work.
The problem is that making one decision after another uses up mental energy, leading to what’s called “decision fatigue,” which means you may have already used up your best brainpower for the day by mulling over the options for your a.m. latte.
But there’s a way to combat decision fatigue—with one simple to-do.
The Morning Move: When you wake up and you’re at your freshest, “decide on the one or two things you want to accomplish,” Tate says, adding that even if you just spend a few minutes doing this, you’ve still prioritized your day.
And to help keep your decision-making sharper for longer, consider creating a morning routine that minimizes decision-making, such as eating the same breakfast each day.
“You don’t have to make grandiose, sweeping changes in your life,” she explains. “It can be really subtle, but you’ll see a pretty significant pop in productivity.”