7 ways to start your day off right

morning coffee
CC BY 2.0 Natalia Medd

How you choose to start the day will set the tone for the rest of your day, so make those choices wisely.

Start your morning off right, and the rest of the day will fall into place — at least, that’s the idea! No matter what your job is, whether you put in long hours at an office or care for little ones at home, your early morning choices set a tone for the rest of the day. Make those choices consciously and reap the benefits all day long.

1. Don’t reach for your phone immediately.

Leave your phone alone for at least an hour. It’s even better if you can use an old-fashioned alarm clock and leave your phone outside the bedroom, so you’re not tempted to start scrolling through Facebook, comparing yourself to others.

Being on your phone first thing primes your mind to be in a ‘reactive’, or defensive, state, says social psychologist Dr. Ron Friedman. It’s important to focus on yourself, instead. Several minutes of silence is a good thing.

“When you see yourself as having an internal locus of control, you’re less likely to reinforce anxious patterns of thinking.”

2. Make healthy choices.

Morning is when you should eat a nutritious breakfast, rehydrate with tea or warm lemon water to boost your immune system, and hold off on the coffee for an hour or two (as shocking as that may sound). Believe it or not, after 9 a.m. is supposedly the optimal time for coffee.

3. Do what you love.

It’s easy to feel happy about the day if you’ve made time for an activity you enjoy. Don’t worry: it won’t detract from your productivity since behavioral scientists have found that people are most productive in the morning, after a half hour or so has passed. For example, if you get up at 7 a.m., then your most productive time will likely be from 8 to 10:30 a.m. So take the time you need, doing something you love, before jumping into work. Learn how to wake up joyfully.

4. Plan ahead.

If you start each day with a brief planning period, when your mind is fresh and clear, it will make the day feel less daunting. You can review any appointments you have that day, and set two goals that you’d like to accomplish. I love a paper planner for this reason, where I can mull things over with a pen in hand.

Steve Jobs used to ask himself a single question in the mirror each morning: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And, as he told students at a Stanford commencement in 2005, "Whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

5. Do the hardest things first.

Mark Twain put it best: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Perhaps a cold shower can be your metaphorical frog — recommended because it’s one of the hardest things you can do early in the day, which is precisely why you should do it.

6. Get up first, if you have kids.

I never understood my mother’s insistence on early rising until I had kids of my own; now I get it. When you wake up before your kids, the day starts off on your own terms, not theirs, which makes everything feel more under control. Whether you have a shower, eat some food, meditate, or work (like I do), you will have already accomplished something by the time you’re responding to their needs.

7. Greet the day.

At risk of sounding hokey, I like to ‘greet the day’ by stepping outside on the porch, looking at the sky, feeling the temperature (which saves me checking on my phone later to know how I should dress), and simply taking a moment to see how the day feels. Filling my lungs deeply with fresh air is always a welcome wake-up sensation, unless it’s a snowstorm outside.

Tags: Health | Work

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