I’m a morning person. I’ve trained myself to wake up by 6:00 AM. At this time of year, the early morning coolness and lull feels good. It’s quiet time I have all to myself, and it eases me into my workday and increases my chances of a productive morning.
You might not be a morning person; your window of productivity might be late at night, and I hear you. The point is to find the time that works for you, and it helps to build in a routine to make the best of that productive time, whenever that is for you.
Now, back to the morning people . . . After several weeks of working from home, I’ve increasingly understood how a good morning can set the tone for all-day productivity. I’d like to share my routine. You don’t have to copy it to the letter; we’re all different in what works for us.
Make Time for Breakfast
I put in a long day–10 hours or more on most weekdays. I need coffee and breakfast to keep me going. You’ve likely heard all your life how important breakfast is for metabolism, increased energy, and focus. I get derailed when mid-morning hunger pulls me away from my writing. I sometimes have a hard time focusing if I haven’t fueled up first thing.
I take the time to enjoy my French press coffee and prepare a decent breakfast. You could do little tricks to save yourself time so that you can hit the laptop running, but I prefer not to rush. I savor my coffee and breakfast time; it eases me into the work ahead. Honestly, this first part of my morning is what gets me out of bed.
Prepare Healthy Snacks in Advance
Even with an adequate breakfast and lunch, there can be occasional cravings; I certainly get them. If I don’t plan ahead, I end up yearning for junk food, which can drain my productivity. Hunger at mid-morning or in the afternoon can be distracting. Even worse, if I don’t have a healthy snack planned in advance, I’ll grab those Pepperidge Farm cookies and inhale them.
Staying away from the sugary stuff has been a challenge since I’ve begun working from home full-time. That’s why I plan some healthy snacks in advance, often the night before. My favorite healthy snack is a simple trail mix:
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup cashews (preferably unsalted)
- 1/4 cup chocolate chips
- (Adjust the ingredients and amounts according to your preferences.)
It’s a good idea to have something at your desk within reach unless you’re going to the kitchen as part of a planned break. I’m munching on some trail mix right now.
Get Ready for Work
Before I established my work-from-home morning routine, I used to roll out of bed and stumble to my desk, still dressed in my t-shirt and jammy-jams. I was lucky if I grabbed a banana before punching the keys. I usually remembered to brush my teeth around 10:00 AM.
Working in your pajamas tends to keep you in a tired state of mind. If you think that staying in your pajamas or sweats is a time saver, the lack of focus you’ll probably feel won’t make up for it. When my productivity started to suffer, I knew I had to create a system. I make a point to put on actual clothes, bathe, and brush my teeth. It’s important to dress and get ready for work, even if your commute is only 7 seconds.
Set the Workspace Tone
In terms of my physical workspace, I have a desk in one corner of my living room dedicated only to work. Working from home depends mostly on having a dedicated workspace; over 80 percent of home workers do. In keeping with ergonomics, I have a comfortable chair with armrests and back support. I also have my earbuds close by when I need to use the phone.
I make sure I have plenty of natural light and circulating air. I’m not too far away from my hand weights so that I can get in a few strength exercises during my breaks. Also, throughout the day, I switch out my desk for my recliner, the kitchen table, or the couch. My desk is my “hub” for early morning work, but I like moving around because too much sitting can have negative health effects.
I also mentally prepare in my workspace. When I had my office job (shudder), I would arrive at my desk, warm my coffee, and open my planner. I still carry out these steps. Whatever habits you have that get you started, keep them up, especially if you’re working from home.
Review My Schedule
The night before, I split up the next workday into chunks based on my content calendar and other pressing needs. I tend to get distracted throughout the day, so a schedule keeps me focused. (I carved out 8:00-10:00 AM this morning to work on this post.) I also have a hard time starting projects; therefore, seeing what’s first on my list gets me going.
Before I dive into my work, I take one more look at my schedule and figure out what absolutely needs to be done that day. Because the critical stuff usually takes longer than you think, I decide which tasks are non-negotiable and which can be put off if needed.
Unless there’s an emergency or urgent need, I protect my schedule and let others know about it to avoid interruptions. To stay true to my plan, I fire up a few productivity apps. One of my favorites is the Miracle Timer, which uses the Pomodoro method to help you stay on task. I also have to give a shout out to Pocket, which is a quick way to store articles. Click here for more productivity apps.
Here’s a Pomodoro timer on YouTube:
Are you a morning person? How do you begin your workday?