Just about any conversation on research-backed ways to be more successful includes some mention of morning routines. We analyze morning routine ideas for how they can make you more productive, read up on which routines can make you happier, and pour over every detail of the morning routines of successful people in the hopes that we, too, can be just like them.
But while adopting a morning routine sounds great in theory, the thought of sacrificing even a few extra minutes of sleep when your alarm goes off in the morning is, well, really freakin’ hard. We get it.
5 Morning Routine Ideas for More Successful Workdays
Luckily, fall is the season to set up exciting new routines; it’s basically what fall is all about. So there’s no better time to trick yourself into getting up a few minutes earlier to treat yourself to a scarily good morning. Try one of the following morning routine ideas (or all five) for a better day. Either way, we bet you’ll fall for how much more successful they make your day feel. (Fall puns = awesome.)
1. Go for a fall foliage run
If the idea of setting an early alarm to go for a run before work sounds like something out of a horror film, hit pause a second. Exercise is one of the most effective ways you can build a successful and healthy morning routine. Why? Because study after study after study confirms the positive mental and emotional effects of exercise.
You don’t have to join the bleary-eyed gym crop at 6 a.m. in order to reap the benefits either. As little as 10 minutes of exercise can give you a positive mental boost, according to a recent review of the relationship between exercise and happiness. Use that time to go for a run or a walk around your neighborhood and admire all the gorgeous fall foliage. Or, if you’re somewhere warmer, enjoy the sunshine—and the jealousy of everyone else in the country.
2. Try a sunrise meditation
Up next on our list of morning routine ideas also involves getting up early. (We know.) But not as early as you think. If there’s one good thing about the daylight hours getting shorter in the fall, it’s that you can actually catch a sunrise without getting up at an unholy hour. Check your local weather for the exact time of the sunrise and plonk yourself down for a few minutes of meditation. (If you need help getting started, try using one of these guided meditation apps.)
Science has long been on board with the idea that meditation has real benefits. One of the biggest research-backed benefits seems to be improved focus. One study found that a meditation practice that requires you to fix your attention on something (like your breath or the shift in shadows as the sun rises) can tangibly increase your attention span. Translation: You’re less likely to look like a zombie during your afternoon meeting. Unless, you know, you want to. (Those office parties can get intense, we know.)
3. Ghost your phone
If you want to be more successful during the day, ghost your phone while you get ready in the morning.
Here’s why this is one of the best morning routine ideas out there: The scientific analysis of how our phones affect us isn’t pretty. A 2015 Reuters survey found that 80 percent of us are on email before we get into the office. And, you guessed it, that’s got some negative consequences. One 2014 study found that the amount of time you spend on your phone and your levels of anxiety are directly correlated. The study, done on college students, also found that increased phone use had a negative impact on performance in class. Your iPhone isn’t exactly going to kill your productivity but, hey, increased anxiety and diminished performance at the office are still pretty frightening.
The thing is, doing a full-on digital detox is often unrealistic—love it or hate it, we kind of need our phones. You don’t have to unplug entirely to help set yourself up for success. Commit to ghosting your phone while you’re getting ready in the morning and use that time to be more mindful instead.
Bonus? Really focusing on each aspect of your daily morning routine, rather than being distracted by your phone, has the potential to make you more creative throughout the day.
4. Get excited for the season
Fall is full of things to get excited about: overly priced pumpkin-spiced drinks, dish soap, and more, office holiday parties that let you dress how you really feel (Michael Myers anyone?), multiple occasions to eat pie, giant sweaters that conceal how much pie you’ve really eaten, mini candy bars that somehow taste way better in a festive shape, and so on.
What does this have to do with good daily routines, you ask? Actually, a lot.
Research shows that looking forward to something can actually be used as a powerful tool to boost your mood. It might seem obvious but taking a few minutes to think about the fun activities you have planned for the weekend, the latte you’re going to treat yourself to after lunch, or even the fact that your commute feels so much nicer now that the leaves are changing, can help you start your morning on a more successful note.
To make the seasonal excitement part of your successful morning routine, take two minutes in the morning to think about one thing you’re looking forward to. It works (almost) like magic.
5. Brew a wickedly good cup of coffee
Speaking of lattes, if you have a morning coffee habit, we’ve got good news: You’ve already established a morning routine that can help make you more successful. The secret ingredient? Caffeine. A review of 23 studies found that the potion can not only help you feel more alert, but can also boost your mood and increase your focus during the day. Just be sure not to cross over the line between caffeinated and overly wired. That’s a scary place to be. Trust us.
To make it a part of your good morning routine before work, you have two options: Up your barista skills by trying a new fall brew at home, or if that sounds too tricky, treat yourself to a trip to your favorite coffee shop in the a.m. (An added bonus of the latter? That’s one more thing you can look forward to.)
To sum it all up…
Confession time: Our list of morning routine ideas to be scarily successful works for every season. Why? Because these morning routine ideas are based on scientifically-sound strategies to start your day off right. Here’s a quick reminder of those five strategies:
- Fit in some exercise first thing. You only need 10 minutes to feel the happy effects. Bonus points for making moves in nature.
- Make time for mindfulness. Whether it’s appreciating nature or simply breathing, you’ll be less stressed and ready to take on the day.
- Ditch your phone in the morning to reduce the negative effects of screen time.
- Get excited about the good that’s happening in your life—big or small.
- Add a little caffeine for a big boost all day long.
Here’s to your most successful season yet.
Your turn: Got more morning routine ideas? Tell us all about ’em in the comments.
Now, for how to stay productive throughout the holiday season, check out these tips for effectively taking breaks.
Author: Macaela Mackenzie
Macaela Mackenzie is a freelance writer and content strategist. When she doesn’t have her nose in a research journal or the New York Times, she’s likely to be found looking for punny greeting cards or an excuse to explore a new travel spot.