It can take months for a new habit to stick, making it difficult to trade your old bad behaviors in for new, healthier ones. But if you shift that new habit to first thing in the morning, you may speed up that process. In fact, one study found that new morning habits would stick 50 days sooner than nighttime behaviors.
Even if you aren't a morning person, you can squeeze a few things in after the alarm goes off.
Here are seven new habits you should try if you want to kick your day off the right way.
Wake Up Your Mind
Even if you're one of many people who do your best work later in the day, you can still make the most of those early-morning hours. Find those few things that wake you up every morning, whether it's a cold shower, a healthy breakfast, a brisk walk, or some other energy booster.
Go for a Walk
After four experiments, Doctors Marily Opezzo and Daniel L. Schwartz found a distinct connection between walking and creative thinking. promoting new connections between brain cells and giving us the time and space we need to think. Try to resist the temptation to check email, chat on the phone, or listen to audiobooks while you walk, simply letting your mind wander to the day ahead. Chances are, you'll show up at your desk with a head full of great ideas.
Plan Your Day
As you're sipping coffee, take a look at your calendar and think through the day ahead. Make a list of items you want to accomplish over the course of the day and prioritize them. If you can, try to resist the urge to check your email until you've planned your day and prepared your mind and body to tackle the tasks ahead. Once you leap into your inbox, you can find you quickly lose control of your day.
Write in a Journal
Some of the best minds of all time credit journaling as the secret to their success. Take a note from their playbook and sit down every morning with pen and paper in hand. If you prefer, you can type your journal or speak into a recorder. The goal, though, is to unplug and spend time with just yourself and your thoughts, so resist the urge to check email and hang out on social media during your journaling time.
As a busy professional, it can seem like setting time aside to do nothing is a waste. But in actuality, those precious minutes could make a big difference in your productivity throughout the day. So take a few minutes soon after the alarm goes off to sit quietly and shed all thoughts. A team of psychologists reviewed multiple studies and found that meditation improves decision-making abilities. I've personally found that it helps me see stress differently. To some degree it's our choice how much we want to buy into anxious thoughts, whether they are about work, relationships, or something else.
If you typically rush out the door each morning, chances are breakfast is something you reserve for weekends. But some of the most successful leaders cite a healthy morning meal as part of their daily routine. Many of these breakfasts include a healthy protein such as eggs. If you don't have time to sit down to a home-cooked meal, try to keep foods around that you can grab on the go, such as protein shakes and bars. I like to have nuts, seeds, almond butter and blueberries, with milk.
Network Over Coffee
Now that the American Heart Association has told us that a morning cup of coffee is good for us, why not combine it with another positive activity? Spend your coffee (or tea) time networking, whether by reaching out to colleagues on LinkedIn or Twitter or through scheduling meetings with potential business partners. You'll get your morning "pick me up" while also expanding your network.
However you choose to kick off your day, make sure it starts things off the right way. Even a quiet commute to work can help get your mind going rather than cluttering it with morning talk shows and news updates.