This article is brought to you by Morning Brew.
Being a morning person is not essential to being productive — but there’s a reason having a morning routine is so beneficial. Researchers at Duke University have found that more than 40% of what we do each day is dictated by habits, whether that’s washing our face each morning or eating a snack at the same time every afternoon for a boost of energy. The power of habit is a strong one, and it can be deceptively easy to form a bad habit and annoyingly hard to break it. The upside is that forming good habits can set you up for a successful routine and make your whole day run more smoothly no matter what pops up.
Along with our partners at Morning Brew, here are six tasks to help revitalize your routine. Tackle them each morning, and you can go about the rest of your day feeling more clear-headed and focused.
1. Make Your Bed
Regardless of whether you have a bedroom with a door you can close or live in a small studio apartment that’s just one room, making the bed the minute you get out of it tells your brain that it’s time to be awake and start the day. It turns out it could also help you sleep better. Researchers from the experts at the National Sleep Foundation found in a survey that almost 20% of respondents who made their bed every morning reported sleeping better each night. Retired U.S. Navy Admiral Seal William H. McCraven even highlighted it in his 2014 commencement speech at the University of Texas at Austin. His perspective: making your bed is a task that gives you a sense of pride, it’s an easy first accomplishment, and it builds momentum to help you tackle the harder tasks the day holds. Finally, getting into a crisp, freshly-made bed each night is one of life’s little pleasures that doesn’t cost a thing.
2. Eat A Good Breakfast
Instead of empty calories or skipping breakfast altogether, pick something nutritious with protein in it for your first meal of the day. Whether that’s eggs, a peanut butter smoothie, or just a healthy granola bar on your way out the door, start the day with something substantial and you’re less likely to be ravenous an hour later. Eating a nutritious breakfast jump starts your metabolism and will help your body burn more calories throughout the day. It breaks your body’s nightlong fast — thus the name — and signals to your brain that it doesn’t have to conserve every calorie it takes in throughout the day.
A 2016 study by researchers at Kent State even found evidence that eating breakfast can improve your memory and recall, which is helpful for everything from finding your car keys to remembering last quarter’s sales figures on the spot. Hopefully it’s not your only meal of the day, but if things get hectic and you don’t have time for a balanced, nutritious lunch or sensible snacks, eating a good breakfast each morning will help set you up for whatever the day throws at you.
3. Check the News
Most news lately has taken the word “depressing” to a whole new level, but that doesn’t mean sticking your head in the sand is the best move. It’s important to know what’s happening around the globe, so you can be an informed voter, colleague, and friend. However, reading the news on Twitter or watching it on TV can sometimes feel like trying to drink from a firehose. Luckily the experts at Morning Brew curate it all for you in one easy-to-read daily newsletter. From national news and stock market trends to celebrity tidbits and fun features, Morning Brew tells you what you need to know to face the day informed. Sign up for free and get a daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable, no matter what’s going on in the world.
4. Look Over Credit or Debit Card Transactions
This is an easy one that you can get out of the way early so you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the day. Sign in to your credit or debit card account — whichever one you use the most frequently — and quickly scan recent transactions to make sure everything looks good. Doing so will help you keep track of your spending in an easy, day-to-day way that can feel much less stressful than ignoring it all month and then trying to remember 30 days worth of purchases in one go. It’ll also help you catch anything weird more quickly. If you’ve been mistakenly double-charged or had your card number stolen it’s better to know about it sooner rather than later so you can alert your bank and get a new card issued ASAP.
5. Scan Your Calendar
Have you ever been surprised by a meeting notification a mere 15 minutes before it was supposed to start, or completely forgotten about an event or webinar you totally intended to prepare for? Me too, more times than I care to admit, until I started checking both my work and personal calendars before getting dressed for the day. If nothing else, it helps me know if I need to throw on a blazer or can get by with my super comfortable but only moderately professional collection of sweaters. Even if these days most of us are just doing conference calls in our living rooms, it’s still helpful to know what’s on the docket for the day so you can feel calm and prepared instead of disorganized and taken by surprise. Check your calendar first thing and you can avoid dragging around that awful nagging feeling all day that you’re missing something important.
6. Make a “Must-Do” List
Whether you’re an all-star list maker or only occasionally jot things down on a piece of paper here and there, I encourage you to embrace the list. After glancing at your calendar, pick 3-5 things that you absolutely must do, including something easy like “put out the recycling”. Write those down somewhere you’ll see them again, whether that’s in an old school daily planner or in an app on your phone. That way you can glance at them throughout the day and fit them into your schedule. Then once you’ve completed each item, you get the tiny pleasure of jubilantly crossing it off the list.
Accomplishing several simple tasks first thing in the morning can help you build momentum that you’ll carry with you for the rest of the day. Sticking to a routine and doing these six tasks will help you be a happier, more productive, and better informed human, no matter what the day throws at you once you walk out the door.
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