Whether you consider yourself a morning person or not, adopting a morning routine has its benefits. From clearing your mind to fueling your body, starting the day on the right foot gives you the best chance to have a productive day.
Consider this scenario: less distractions, peak of your willpower, and the opportunity to build momentum.
So instead of hitting the snooze button or dragging yourself out bed, why not make the most of this time of the day and try these 12 morning habits worth developing:
01. Wake up earlier
Take it from fellow early risers such as Benjamin Franklin, Richard Branson, Tim Cook, Howard Schultz, and other successful leaders — they tend to get more things done while others are still dreaming.
Waking up earlier gives you a no-distractions opportunity to exercise, meditate, read, write, eat a healthy breakfast, clean up around the home, get kids ready for school, and basically get a head start on your day.
If that's not convincing enough, do the math — one hour everyday day is the equivalent of 15 days a year. That's a little more than two whole weeks of "extra" time!
02. Drink water
After several hours of sleeping, our bodies need to rehydrate and flush out toxins. Drinking a glass of water immediately upon waking up will solve that and help jumpstart your system. Not to mention you'll more likely get out of bed right after instead of hitting the snooze button and going back to sleep.
03. Write things down
Whether it's journaling or simply listing your day's tasks, writing helps you capture your thoughts, process your emotions, and focus on your goals. If you do keep a notebook, however, it can also encourage progress since you'll have a record of your thoughts and actions which you can later evaluate.
Do you know what Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, two of the richest and most intelligent people in the world, have in common? Among other things, they read.
The same way morning exercise gets your body moving, morning reading will get your brain working. It will stimulate your mind, expand your vocabulary, improve your memory, and develop your focus. Of course, you'll learn more things too.
05. Practice mindfulness
Being mindful means having a heightened sense of awareness of our present thoughts, feelings, and surroundings.
To remember that waking up in the morning also means waking up to a new day, you become open to encountering new opportunities to experience life, emotions, and the simple joys that make your days worthwhile.
Take note that meditation, while extremely effective in achieving this, is not the only way to practice mindfulness. You can also try eating slowly and with intention, paying attention to your senses or your body parts, or focusing on the positive side of circumstances.
Want to develop the right habits and make them stick?
06. Stretch or exercise
Stretching or exercising in the morning has numerous benefits from lifting your mood (you can thank endorphins for that), to increasing your metabolism and getting an energy boost.
Did you know that exercise is also a keystone habit? This means it's one of the few habits that create ripple effects on other areas of your life — improving discipline, increasing productivity, developing focus, gaining confidence, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
07. Eat a healthy breakfast
It's not called the most important meal of the day for nothing. Breakfast, more importantly, a healthy breakfast, gives you the necessary nutrients and energy you need to function properly throughout the day.
Think of the consequences of skipping breakfast as well — you're more likely to overeat for lunch, grab an unhealthy snack midday, or be cranky. Also, if your last meal was dinner, and your next meal would be lunch the next day, this will tell your body to store unnecessary calories.
08. Express gratitude
This isn't just a self-help trick. It's backed by science —
Expressing gratitude was found to improve psychological and mental health. It can enhance well-being, reduce aggression, develop empathy, and therefore increase happiness.
If you can't see yourself keeping a gratitude journal like Oprah Winfrey, try writing down five things you're grateful for each morning.
09. Say your affirmations
In his book Think and Grow Rich, best-selling author Napoleon Hill describes the benefits of daily affirmations. By planting seeds of positivity in our brains by way of autosuggestion, Hill says we can adapt the mindset of successful people, paving the way for our own achievements. Positive thinking = positive actions.
Other notable people who use/d affirmations are Muhammad Ali (professional boxer and sports figure) and Hal Elrod (author of The Miracle Morning).
10. Connect with loved ones
When we're too caught up in the day-to-day, it's easy to forget why we do what we do and for whom. Everything becomes automatic that we fail to remember what's essential — our relationships with our loved ones.
Starting the day by engaging in meaningful conversations with them or even hugging them will remind you of your purpose and give you that boost of motivation you'll need to tackle the day ahead.
11. Ask yourself important questions
As one of the most celebrated innovators and entrepreneurs of our time, Steve Jobs famously asked himself this question each morning — “If today was the last day of my life, would I be happy with what I’m about to do today?” If the answer was ‘no’ several days in a row, he knew something needed to change.
Another one is from Benjamin Franklin, one of America's founding fathers and a well-known polymath, who also asks himself this question in the morning — "What good shall I do this day?"
Much like Jobs and Franklin, we need to evaluate what we're doing and ask ourselves difficult questions regularly.
Here are some more examples:
"Am I living my values?"
"What have I done that brings me the most and least joy?"
"How can I make a difference in myself, in others, and in the world today?"
"What 20% of my tasks contribute to 80% of my results?"
"What is worth smiling about right now?"
12. Identify your most important task and do it
It's no secret that we all have the same hours in a day; however, only a few people seem to achieve more and get things done while others end the day feeling unfulfilled or overwhelmed.
One sure-fire way to combat this is to prioritize your most important task and tackle it before starting with the others. How do you identify which is the most important task? Ask yourself which activity will make the most impact on your life and give you the most fulfillment. Once you've identified it, commit to doing it.
Considering all the benefits of developing these 12 morning habits, it's no wonder Benjamin Franklin said, "Early to bed early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."
It's important to note that on their own, the 12 activities I shared here are just that — activities. Adopting any of them just once or twice will get you results, no doubt, but probably not the kind you're after.
If you're looking to have consistently intentional and productive days, these activities need to be developed into habits.
Share in the comments below: Which of these morning habits do you already do? Which ones are you looking to develop?