What links Jane Austen, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama? Weird question maybe – it certainly isn’t obvious at first glance! But it’s the fact that they all famously have (or had in the case of Ms Austen!) set morning rituals that help them achieve success…
So, What’s The Science Behind It?
According to Steve Key, a professor at the University of Southern California, when it comes to our ability to focus and be productive, “most adults perform best in the late morning.” Therefore, in order to make the most of this peak time period, we need to prepare ourselves with a good morning ritual.
Furthermore, in order to be fully productive, we need to start work with the right mindset. If you start work with an anxious mind – worrying about everything you have to do – or without a clear goal for the day, it is much harder to get things done. If you have a set morning ritual, it helps focus the mind – we are creatures of habit, so we find comfort in routine!
Morning rituals also help you start the morning with a positive mindset – if you feel like you have already accomplished something; it helps you feel more enthusiastic towards ticking off your to-do list. Find it difficult to get started? You aren’t alone – it’s human psychology, we really struggle to get momentum going. But once it’s set off, we are capable of being really productive.
Another fun science fact about morning rituals: we only have a limited amount of willpower and self-control, so naturally it will be at its peak first thing in the morning. This means if you’ve got an important (or unpleasant) task, the best time of day to tackle it is early on. Plus, if you’ve got your head in the right space with a morning ritual, it will make it easier to deal with this job.
Have a look at these two routines, which one sounds the most positive and productive?
The alarm goes off and you instantly press the snooze button. After another half an hour of dozing and waking up again, you eventually give up the fight. You grab your mobile and start looking through social media and your emails. Suddenly you realise what time it is and have to run to the shower. The daily rush begins. You don’t have time to eat breakfast, so you grab a fresh cup of coffee on the way to work. You get into the office just about on time, and immediately have to start responding to emails before your morning meeting. That’s okay, you’ll have time later to get out for a walk. Oh wow, is that the time? You’d better get home to start making dinner. Never mind, you’ll be able to go to the gym tomorrow.
Seem familiar? How does this one sound?
The alarm goes off and you get out of bed, leaving your phone where it is. You go and make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and take it to a quiet corner of the house – or outside if the weather is nice. You sit for a few minutes in quiet contemplation, enjoying your drink, before writing down what you are grateful for that day. Next, you go for a half an hour walk and finish off with ten minutes of stretching – to make yourself feel refreshed and revitalised. After showering and dressing, you have a balanced breakfast that will set you up for the day. You have a look at the list of your three key tasks for the say (written the night before) and decide what you’ll tackle first. You arrive at your office in good time, feeling calm, positive, and ready to get to work.
Which sounds better? Number two of course! So, want to start the day in a great mood and feel really productive, then you need a morning ritual.
What Do Morning Rituals Consist Of?
Morning rituals can consist of anything you like, but – as you can see from morning 2 – they tend to focus on these areas:
- Getting up early
- Planning day
- Practicing gratitude
- Eating a healthy breakfast
- Phone/electronics ban
What Steps Can I Take To Get Started?
Start off by keeping a diary for a week, looking at what you do in the mornings and how you felt that day – including how productive you were. This will help you pinpoint areas for improvement.
Then have a think about what you want to achieve. Do you feel anxious and overwhelmed? Are you struggling to fit exercise into your day? Do you want to get healthier overall? You can then choose activities to include in your morning routine that will help you achieve those goals.
Once you have a list – try not to overwhelm yourself with too many activities! – you can get going. Write your morning ritual down and stick it up somewhere you will see it every morning. If you have a calendar, give yourself a tick (or buy a packet of gold star stickers and stick them on there!) every time you complete your morning ritual. This will help keep you motivated – especially once you’ve done it a few times in a row – you won’t want to break your “winning streak”. Once your morning ritual becomes a habit,it will be much easier to maintain and it will help you feel productive and focused in the mornings.
Do you have a morning ritual? How does it help you get your day started? Have you ever tried – and struggled – with starting a morning ritual? I can help! Let me know in the comments below.
We had the pleasure of hosting lovely Harriet from Strong Imperfect Mind, who wrote this article. Harriet is a mental health advocate and fitness fan who is on a mission to help women beat overwhelm and get healthier and happier – inside and out. You can find out more at her blog. Come live your sparkliest life!