In my early twenties, I would wake up as late as possible.
My mornings became purely about the dire London commute. So, of course, I would go to bed at night, dreading the next day.
Now, mornings are my favorite time, thanks to the many rituals I’ve introduced.
I no longer roll out of bed and get straight into work. Instead, I take time to be present, practice self-care, and collect my thoughts.
A much more productive, successful, and enjoyable day!
If you dread your alarm going off, struggle through each day, and feel like you never get anything meaningful done, this article is for you.
I’m sharing the top 10 morning rituals of all productive people.
1) Rising early
The first (and one of the most important) ritual of highly productive people is rising early.
The earlier you get up, the more time you have to prepare yourself for the day – and get a head start.
So you will never see productive people roll out of bed 10 minutes before they need to leave for work. Instead, they are often up at the crack of dawn.
There is TONS of research supporting the benefits of getting an early start.
For example, this study published in The Journal of General Psychology found that early risers are less likely to procrastinate than those who get up later.
This shows that getting up early doesn’t just give you more time; it also motivates you to do more throughout the day.
Meditation has endless scientifically proven benefits associated with productivity, including:
- Increased focus
- Improved mental clarity
- Enhanced energy levels
Meditation is so good for our mental well-being as the practice ‘strengthens’ the prefrontal cortex in our brains.
The prefrontal cortex is responsible for our executive functions such as:
So, by strengthening this brain region every morning through meditation, we set ourselves up for a focused, disciplined, and productive day!
3) Journaling their thoughts
Journaling is an excellent way to release mental “clutter,” AKA repetitive and negative thoughts.
Therefore, productive people like to jot down their thoughts first thing in the morning.
I find this mindful practice incredibly helpful for working through challenging emotions so they do not cloud the rest of my day.
Journaling can also serve as a way to gain clarity around your ideas, solve problems, and determine what action you need to take to move toward your goals.
Plus, a 2018 study found that daily journaling can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, two mental health disorders known for causing procrastination and chronic fatigue.
4) Practicing gratitude
Another morning ritual scientifically linked to improved mood and mental health is gratitude.
It’s also one of the shortest and easiest rituals – so if you want to add just one productivity hack to your morning routine, try this one.
Practicing gratitude can consist of writing down the things you are thankful for or simply thinking about your blessings.
While some people like to practice gratitude before bed, I do it in the morning as it helps me shift into a positive “can-do” attitude.
As a result, I’m more likely to face the challenges head-on rather than give up at the first hurdle.
5) Planning their day
One thing every productive person has in common is this …
They know what their priorities are each day.
Having a clear vision for the day enables you to get the ball rolling right away rather than waste the morning procrastinating and feeling confused.
Setting priorities is especially important for anyone who leads a busy life.
When you have so much to do, it’s easy to look at your to-do list and feel totally overwhelmed. This leads you to procrastinate as you don’t know where to start.
Productive people prevent this by setting their top priorities for each day.
Instead of trying to do everything and completing tasks in a random order, productive people take time to think about what is really important and what is not.
They determine the 3 (or so) most important things. Then, rather than attempt to do everything, they focus on those few things
The Four D’s is an excellent time management method that I highly recommend using to identify your priorities.
With this method, you put each task into one of four categories:
- Do (important AND urgent)
- Defer (important but NOT urgent)
- Delegate (urgent but NOT so important)
- Delete (NOT urgent and NOT important)
Planning your day using The Four D’s method makes it much easier to focus on the right tasks and avoid wasting time.
Another way productive people ensure they stay on track is by doing this…
6) Setting a daily intention
Your daily intention is your focus of the day.
Unlike priorities, it doesn’t link to specific tasks but refers to the energy or quality you want to cultivate that day.
For example, your intention could be something like:
- Being present
- Connecting with loved ones
- Putting yourself first
- Avoiding distractions
Productive people set their daily intentions by taking time each morning to check in with themselves.
Again, your intention is not about the tasks on your to-do list. It is about ensuring you give yourself what you need the most that day.
For example, you might have a super busy day but feel extremely tired.
Therefore, despite a busy calendar, you might set the intention to slow down and pause wherever possible. Or perhaps you decide to be kind to yourself, not pushing yourself beyond your current limitations.
7) Moving their body
Exercise is well known for its positive effect on our mindset and energy levels.
Think about the last time you made yourself exercise even though you didn’t feel like it.
You were likely feeling tired and lazy before. But after the workout, how did you feel?
Reinvigorated and motivated, I bet.
Exercise is associated with productivity due to the increased blood flow to the brain.
When we move our body, we stimulate neurogenesis, a process that triggers neuron growth in the hippocampus, the brain region associated with memory and learning.
Thus, people who exercise regularly can learn quickly and retain information well, which allows them to get things done in a shorter time.
Of course, exercise has many other proven benefits, such as:
- Improved mood
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Enhanced mental clarity and focus
- Heightened energy levels
- Improved sleep quality
And how do productive people boost these benefits further?
By combining it with the following morning ritual…
8) Getting outside
We all know that sunlight is vital for vitamin D (and happiness)…
But did you know that sun exposure in the morning is extra special?
It has been shown that getting outside in the sun in the morning can improve your quality of sleep at night.
Well, early morning sun exposure helps reset our circadian clock.
Our bodies are most sensitive to light about one hour after waking up. So, being outdoors during this time can help you feel more alert and prevent those annoying afternoon slumps.
Moreover, a morning walk is ideal for someone like me who typically feels groggy upon waking up. It requires minimal effort, yet it always leaves me fully awake and ready for the day.
Here’s another thing that’s vital for starting the day right…
9) Eating a nutritious breakfast
Breakfast is scientifically proven to boost our energy and brain power.
For example, this study on school children found that kids who ate breakfast had higher academic performance and scored higher in things like concentration and memory than those who skipped the meal.
However, what you eat for breakfast makes a HUGE difference.
High-carb or high-sugar meals will give you an initial boost of energy but likely cause your energy to plummet in the mid-morning or afternoon.
However, a breakfast high in protein and complex carbs (like oats) will regulate and sustain your energy throughout the day.
10) Keeping their phone off
One morning ritual that productive people do NOT have is scrolling through their phones.
Productive people purposely leave their phones switched off or on airplane mode for the first part of their day.
This is because checking emails or social media is incredibly distracting.
Imagine you’re about to start your meditation practice, and you think, “I’ll just check my phone first.”
You see an unsettling message or read bad news, which throws you off course.
You might argue that it would have the same effect even if you checked your phone AFTER your morning routine.
But actually, it wouldn’t.
All the rituals productive people do in the morning help to fortify their brains to remain calm, collected, and focused throughout the day.
So, if you read an upsetting message or negative news story AFTER you’ve finished your morning routine, you’ll have a mental barrier of protection.
Sure, it might still upset you. But it won’t have the power to steal your attention for the rest of the day and, thus, won’t affect your overall productivity.
If you desire more productive and fruitful days, try incorporating some of these rituals into your morning routine.
As someone who went from a non-existent morning routine to a pretty damn impressive one (if I may say so myself), I can tell you this…
How we start our day really does determine how the rest of our day goes!