Productivity is a cherished state that professionals of all ages and experience levels desire. The more work you can accomplish, the more money you'll make, the greater reputation you'll earn, and the more satisfied and less stressed you'll be at the end of the day. Since most of us work in the morning and afternoon, productivity is often seen as a day strategy. However, your nighttime habits and rituals can have a major impact on how productive you are the next day.
Try implementing these habits in your nightly life to guarantee yourself a productive morning:
1. Plan your day. Take a moment to plan your day in advance. What do you hope to accomplish when you first wake up? What about in the mid-morning? What about after lunch? There's no guarantee your plan will pan out the way you expect it to, but having a plan in place gives you a major productive advantage. It will help you stay focused, avoid distractions, and hold yourself accountable--best of all, you don't even need to take the time in the morning to do it.
2. Set goals and priorities. Beyond setting a plan, which will detail the time you spend on various projects throughout the day, set goals and priorities for yourself. Make a list of "must dos," "should dos," and "would be nice to dos" to distinguish these priorities. Each priority you accomplish will add to your momentum, and even if your day is less productive than you expect it to be, you'll still have an objective measure for your overall success.
3. Meditate. Meditation has a number of benefits, and it's not just for the spiritually minded. Meditation is about clearing your mind of clutter, helping you focus, and relieving you of stress. Just 20 minutes of meditation at night can help you unwind from the day and make your mind a kind of blank slate for the coming morning. Plus, it will help you get to sleep--which is a strategy of its own covered further down this list.
4. Pre-prepare a breakfast. Most of us don't have the time to prepare a full breakfast or even grab one on the go, but breakfast is an essential meal if you want to start your day productively. It gives your body the nutrients and energy it needs to function efficiently, improves your mood, and even increases your focus. Because you know you won't have much time in the morning, take time the night before to pre-prepare a breakfast--this could involve scrambling some eggs to reheat, mixing some pancake batter, or even setting out some fruit for the road.
5. Minimize decisions. Help fight against the encroaching reality of decision fatigue; making too many decisions in the morning can exhaust your willpower and decision-making faculties. Instead, work to reduce the number of decisions you'll have to make. For example, you could set out the clothes you want to wear, decide on a commute option, or even start making some of your work decisions early.
6. Get a good night's sleep. This should be a no-brainer, but too many working professionals skip sleep in favor of more work hours. You might stay up late catching up on emails or housework, or spend your last few hours before bed working on a digital screen, which can interfere with your ability to sleep. Instead, prioritize your eight hours of sleep; avoid eating or drinking caffeine several hours before bed, avoid digital screens before bed, and make sure your sleeping environment is quiet, dark, and comfortable.
7. Rise early. Getting up early isn't automatically going to make you more productive, nor is it only about giving yourself more raw time to work with. It's about giving your "morning self" more flexibility. When you have an extra hour in the morning, you don't have to skip breakfast. You don't have to rush through your routine. You don't have to worry about traffic. You'll be less stressed, you'll have more time, and you'll get more done.
It may seem counterintuitive to bank your productivity on the night before your intended workday, but try these strategies for yourself before you come to a conclusion. You'll likely find yourself accomplishing more in less time, and ultimately feeling better about your working life. Moreover, thanks to healthful habits like regular sleep, breakfast, and meditation, your physical and mental well-being will also improve--those are just added bonuses.