Three Easy Steps to Start Your Day in a Powerful Way
How do you usually start your day?
Do you hit a snooze button several times and stay in bed till the last minute when you absolutely have to get up? You feel sleepy, tired, and anxious about the upcoming day.
Or do you wake up earlier and start your day with some exercise, meditation, journaling, a healthy breakfast, and planning your day? You feel excited and optimistic about a new day and ready to tackle any challenges.
Your mornings set the tone for your entire day and can make a vast difference between a productive day and a sluggish one. How you start your day has a powerful ripple effect on your mood, focus, attitude, and productivity.
Never hit the snooze button
I used to hit the snooze button every morning my alarm clock would go off. One more alarm ten minutes later. Then another one. Eventually, I would manage to get out of bed 20, 30, or even an hour later than I originally planned. I would find myself still feeling tired and rushing around trying to get ready as quickly as possible since I would be running late.
Hitting a snooze button depletes your willpower and creates additional stress as you are rushing through your morning. It also creates the feeling that you have no control, no self-disciple, and can’t keep a promise you made to yourself. It’s definitely not a great way to start your day.
I tried various strategies to stop hitting the snooze button over many years. Last year, I committed to creating a daily habit of getting up when my first alarm goes off. Now it has become a regular part of my morning routine.
Daily habits do not depend on motivation, willpower, or mood. They are just repeated actions that later become automatic and do not require any thinking or decision-making (for example, the habit of brushing your teeth every morning). The only way to develop a habit is by repeatedly doing an action until it becomes a natural part of your life.
If you want to stop hitting the snooze button, you don’t need more motivation or self-discipline. You need to commit to practicing it until it becomes part of your daily routine. If you get off track, use it as a learning experience. Figure out what caused you to stumble, address the issue, and try again.
Find morning rituals that work best for you
Your optimal morning routine will depend on your lifestyle and life circumstances. Below are some ideas that you might try and see which ones suit better for you.
Exercise can be a great way to start your day. You can get outside for a walk or a run. You can also do yoga or do a short workout at home. Even if exercising in the mornings is not appealing to you, several gentle stretches can make a big difference in how your body feels.
Meditation is a simple practice that can help clear your mind and tremendously reduce stress and anxiety. While many people think of meditation as something you do sitting cross-legged inside a yoga studio, it is as simple as focusing on your breath, the inhale and exhale. You can do this while standing or sitting; your eyes may be open or closed.
Start by taking a long breath with a deep inhale through your nostrils for three seconds, hold your breath for two seconds, and exhale through your mouth for four seconds. Or you can observe each breath without trying to adjust it. You can focus on the rise and fall of your chest or the sensation through your nostrils.
Notice what you feel in your body and the sounds you hear around you. If your mind wanders, bring your attention back you to your breath. Even a couple minutes of mindful breathing can make you feel calmer and more relaxed.
Journaling can give you mental clarity. Writing down your thoughts in the mornings allows you to capture worries and emotions onto paper and helps declutter your mind.
When dealing with intense emotions or confusion, journaling can help you better understand these emotions and quickly release them.
Journaling is also a powerful tool for self-discovery and setting your goals and intentions.
Additionally, journaling a great way to practice gratitude. When you feel overwhelmed, it can be hard to see what is going well in your life. Make it a habit to write down several things you are thankful for each day.
I start my mornings with stretching combined with push-ups and a couple of core exercises. After that, I meditate for 10–15 minutes and journal for about minutes before making my breakfast.
Eat your breakfast
Eating breakfast not only provides you energy to tackle your day, but it also balances your blood sugar, kickstarts your metabolism, and improves your concentration.
When you wake up in the morning, your blood sugar can be low, especially if you had an early dinner or exercised in the evening or early in the morning. This can make you feel tired and irritable. Nutrient-dense breakfast will give you energy and stabilize your blood sugar.
However, not all foods will give you the benefits of eating breakfast. Eating sugar-loaded breakfast cereals, pancakes, waffles, muffins, doughnuts, granola bars, or pastries doesn’t constitute a nutritious breakfast. These foods are high in refined carbs and low in protein, which cause significant swings in your blood sugar levels.
Examples of healthy breakfast foods are Greek yogurt, eggs, oatmeal, berries, nuts, fruits, and veggies. Some of my favorites are omelet with mushrooms, a whole-grain toast with avocado, and cottage cheese with walnuts and blueberries.
Set your daily priorities
Before you get into the busyness of your day, set up your daily priorities.
Instead of writing a long and intimidating to-do list trying to cram too many things in your day, pick three most important tasks (MITs) for the day.
No matter what else happens during the day, completing your three MITs will give you a sense of accomplishment and progress.
Mark Twain has a famous saying: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
If you manage to do at least one of your MITs in the first couple hours of your workday, the momentum will carry you for the rest of the day.
I use a daily Panda planner to outline my three top priorities and several small tasks for each day. Depending on my schedule, my goal is to get at least one of those three daily goals done before noon.
Your morning defines your day
When you start your day with intention, you feel more focused, balanced, and productive throughout the day. Figure out which morning rituals work best for you and create daily habits. Even if you spend only five to ten minutes on your morning routine, you can transform your entire day.