They say living is supposed to be easy in the summer – but if you’re like me, mornings don’t seem to get any easier. As temperatures rise and energy levels fall, it’s easy to fall into a summertime productivity slump.
Although mornings might not come naturally to all of us, starting your day on the right foot can make all the difference to your productivity. One study on morning moods revealed that employees who start their day with a positive mood tended to provide higher quality work and were more productive throughout the day.
So whether you’re a night owl or early riser, here are four tips that can help you transform your morning routine for all-day success.
1. FEND OFF PROCRASTINATION
The morning might seem like an ideal time to check email and deal with other less-than-critical tasks, but it’s easy to use minutiae as an excuse for procrastinating on work that needs to get done.
Don’t let your mornings become a black hole of procrastination. Self-control and energy are finite resources that decrease throughout the day, so it’s crucial to use those early hours to get the tricky stuff done.
Follow Mark Twain’s advice: Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day. In other words, do the unpleasant tasks first, whether that’s a report you’ve been dreading or a phone call you never seem to have time to make.
2. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF UNINTERRUPTED TIME BLOCKS
A paper co-authored by researchers from Bellevue University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Organization Management Journal examined best practices for academics juggling research productivity, doctoral advising, and teaching.
Many of the scholars interviewed cited the importance of blocking periods of time for specific tasks, from paper revisions to course planning.
Mornings are often the least hectic time of day, before the tedium of successive afternoon meetings and the social obligations of the evening. Make good use of the early hours and dedicate them to projects that require uninterrupted concentration.
3. WORST THINGS FIRST
Humans have a finite level of self-control, so your ability to make critical decisions declines over the course of the day, according to a meta-analysis of 83 studies by researchers at the University of Nottingham and the National Institute of Education in Singapore.
This phenomenon, known as ego depletion, means that big projects shouldn’t be saved for the end of the day, when your judgment may be at its worst, blood glucose levels are on the decline and fatigue has started to set in. Instead, address important work concerns early in the morning, when your judgment and self-control have peaked.
4. SET THE TONE FOR THE REST OF YOUR DAY
Workplace wellness programs are on the rise, thanks to plentiful research on the effect of wellness on productivity.
Exercise can actually prevent a slowdown in brain cell generation during the aging process, in addition to stimulating the production of mitochondria, which produce ATP, a chemical used for energy.
Also, a 2013 study published in the British Medical Journal reported that 10-40 minute bursts of exercise increased mental functioning and focus in children and young adults (18-35 years of age) immediately afterward.
People who work from home shouldn’t forget the importance of healthful living—even if they don’t have an employer offering wellness incentives or lunchtime yoga classes.
Make time for yourself first thing in the morning by fitting in 10 minutes of meditation or a sweat session. Even a quick neighborhood walk can provide health benefits while giving you the focus you need for a productive day ahead.