8 morning habits that are holding you back from being productive

For many years, I struggled with my productivity levels. I was always a lastminute.com type of girl, rushing to get things done and wondering why I never got ahead. 

However, when I became a freelancer, I realized I had to buckle up and find ways to become more efficient if I didn’t want to be working late into the evening. 

Looking back now, I can see how certain lifestyle choices were hindering me from getting ahead, and many of them started first thing in the morning. 

Sound familiar? 

If so, here are 8 morning habits that are holding you back from being productive (and what to do instead): 

1) Skipping breakfast

I’ve never been a big fan of breakfast. If anything, I think shoving toast down my throat at 7 am every morning for years and years at school gave me a mild complex about eating first thing in the morning. 

So as an adult, I’d skip it. Lots of people do. But the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day holds some merit. 

You see, when you’re hungry, your concentration and energy skills aren’t at their best. And if you’re not feeling 100%, you’re more likely to procrastinate

So what’s the solution? 

You don’t need to eat straight after waking up. It’s fine to wait an hour or so, but don’t leave it much longer than that. 

I sip tea in the meantime just to warm my body up and I find that it also activates my appetite. 

And of course, what you’re putting into your body counts. There’s a big nutritional difference between pancakes with Nutella or fruit, yogurt, and eggs for breakfast. 

Pick wisely, because the former will have you slumped over by the 10 am once the sugar rush has worn off, while the second will set you up for a day of productivity. 

2) Hitting the snooze button

But it just feels so good, right? 

We’re all guilty of hitting the snooze button (a couple of times in some people’s cases) in the morning – there’s nothing better than snuggling back under the duvet for 10 more minutes. 

But in reality, we’re sending our bodies mixed signals. Are we waking up? Are we going back to sleep? This constant to and fro can actually make you feel even groggier than if you’d just woken up with the first alarm. 

What I find helpful is opening my window shutters (or curtains) straight after turning off the alarm. This stops me from snoozing again and the natural light helps me wake up. 

You could also line up some happy, uplifting music to help you wake up feeling energized and ready to tackle the day.

3) Skipping exercise

Now, another thing that you may be doing that holds you back from being productive is getting straight into work without moving your body first. 

And no, going to the toilet and making a coffee doesn’t count towards exercise, even if it does count towards your overall steps for the day!

You need to stretch, get your heart pumping, and release the stiffness from your muscles and joints. 

Some people prefer to take a calmer approach by doing yoga, whilst others go for a cycle or hit the gym for half an hour or so. 

But if you’re not into doing heavy sport or you live somewhere where it’s rainy and cold and the idea of going for a run is no fun, why not try putting on your favorite music and dancing around in your living room? 

Trust me, 15 minutes of that and you’ll feel your heart racing. 

So why is this so important?

Well, energy creates energy

If you get moving as soon as you wake up, you’ll feel more energetic and motivated to tackle the list of tasks in front of you instead of putting them off for later in the day. 

4) Not planning your day

Quite often, people accuse procrastinators or those who are unproductive of being lazy. 

But that’s simply not always true. A lot of times, we procrastinate because we feel overwhelmed. We don’t know where to start so we avoid the task altogether. 

With a little bit of planning, though, you can avoid this. 

The night before, write down a few of the key things you need to get done the next day. 

List them in order of priority and importance (tackling the hard stuff earlier in the day and leaving lighter tasks for later). 

This way, when you wake up in the morning, there’s no need to try and figure out what you need to do or which task should take precedence over the other.

All you’ll need to do is check your list, get started, and tick off as you go along!

5) Checking social media first thing

undeniable signs youre someones first thought in the morning 8 morning habits that are holding you back from being productive

Now, I’ll admit, this is something I still struggle with. The desire to just quickly check my socials as soon as I get up is a strong one, and I know I’m not alone in this. 

But ultimately, it’s a huge distraction. And not to mention, an information overload that our brains can’t quite handle first thing in the morning. 

I want you to try something tomorrow morning when you wake up and check the news or your social media feed – pay attention to how your body reacts to things like negative information, nasty comments, and videos of people doing ridiculous things just to get likes. 

It’s something I’ve been paying attention to, and I notice that I feel tense when I see these things. In some cases, my heart rate even increases and I can feel myself getting annoyed. 

And if I’m starting my morning tense and annoyed, that’s not going to put me in a very productive mood

So the bottom line is, if you start your morning focused on the rest of the world, you’ll probably spend the rest of the day following suit. But if you start your morning focussed on yourself, well, you get the idea. 

6) Not prioritizing tasks

I’ve mentioned this before when I spoke about planning your day, but let’s look at it in a bit more detail…

I know it seems logical to tackle easy tasks first thing in the morning while you’re still waking up…right? 

Wrong. In the morning, you’ve got way more energy than later on in the day (especially after lunch), so optimize it. 

Get the hard stuff done as soon as you can, and then you’re free for the rest of the day to do lighter tasks without feeling so drained or worn out. 

I also find that when I’ve ticked off the most important stuff, it motivates me to keep going. I don’t feel so stressed anymore, and because I’m not worrying, I keep the productive streak going (until about 8 pm when I crash and it’s sofa time). 

7) Ignoring self-care

Following on from the previous point, one of the most important things on your list should be self-care. 

That will look different for everyone, but in general, it involves things like:

  • Staying hydrated and eating healthy and nutritious food
  • Meditating or journaling 
  • Exercising 
  • Reading a book
  • Spending some time outside 

Self-care is important for your mental health. It’s not a waste of time or some new-age fad (even if the term is being thrown around a lot lately). 

The truth is, if you start the morning feeling calm and relaxed, knowing that you’ve done something that’ll benefit yourself, you’ll have a much more productive day than if you rush straight into work.

And on that note…

8) Working straight away 

Being productive isn’t about just diving straight into work as soon as you wake up in the morning. Do this and you’ll crash pretty quickly. 

Instead, you need time to transition from waking up to actually feeling ready for work. 

And all of the things I mentioned above (the good stuff) are what should fill that transitional time. 

How long you spend is completely up to you, I personally take an hour. During that time, I get outside for a few minutes to get some fresh air and watch my cats play – this always puts me in a good mood. 

Then I might do some light exercise, read something while eating breakfast, or listen to music or a podcast. Then I’ll review my list of things to do and that’s usually when I turn my working brain on. 

By the time I sit down to start working, I feel composed and ready to tackle whatever comes my way. 

So, I hope these tips help you recognize which habits are holding you back from having a productive day, and which are beneficial to incorporating into your morning routine. 

Every day can be a good day if you set yourself up for it.

Picture of Kiran Athar

Kiran Athar

Kiran is a freelance writer with a degree in multimedia journalism. She enjoys exploring spirituality, psychology, and love in her writing. As she continues blazing ahead on her journey of self-discovery, she hopes to help her readers do the same. She thrives on building a sense of community and bridging the gaps between people. You can reach out to Kiran on Twitter: @KiranAthar1

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.