Mornings are glorious. There’s nothing quite like being up with the birds and getting a jump start on your day before the rest of the world is awake. This time of the day is so magical, in fact, that one can find hundreds of articles, quotes, and books devoted solely to its gentle dawning.

There’s a reason productivity gurus tout early-rising as one of the most critical elements of success. Mastering your morning is empowering. It puts you in the driver’s seat of your whole day.

“Some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen.” – Wayne Huizenga

In this short guide, we’ll offer some tips about how you can initiate a productive morning routine that might just change your life. 

1. Wake Up

If you’re a morning person already, you can skip right over this first section. But if you’re the type that finds it hard to pull yourself out of bed, you’re probably going to need a little extra help. After all, it’s kind of hard to have a productive morning if you don’t actually have a morning to speak of. 

Since you’re reading this article, we have to assume you want to change that. If your get-up-and-go needs a little help, consider implementing these suggestions:

Go to bed at a decent hour. No matter how early you get up, your productivity will suffer if you don’t get a good night’s rest. Commit to a reasonable bedtime and then stick with it.

Start gradually. If you normally wake at noon and you decide you’re going to start getting up at five am, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead, set your alarm for 10 am and gradually move it backward in half-hour increments every day or two.

Find your unique motivation. What do you truly love in the morning that would help you get out of bed? Is it a delicious breakfast? How about reading the paper or hopping on social media? Maybe it’s taking your pet for a walk or just sitting quietly on the deck. Find something that you can look forward to that will be rewarding—just for you.

Put your alarm clock out of reach. If you need some hardcore help, Put your alarm clock in a spot where you can’t easily reach it to hit the snooze button. Make yourself actually get out of bed to turn it off. Sometimes, just getting moving can get the ball rolling.

2. Focus on Self Care

For many people, mornings are the only real time they will get for the remainder of the day to actualize some self-care. In addition to a good night’s sleep, your body and mind need to be in tip-top shape to achieve maximum productivity. Your self-care routine will be yours alone, but the important thing is that you work at it consistently. Some examples of activities to include in your self-care regimen include:

  • Fitness or yoga
  • Meditation or breathing exercises
  • Positive affirmations
  • Prayer
  • Planning healthy meals for the day
  • Writing in a journal
  • Taking a nice pampering shower or bath

3. Develop a Plan

Okay, so you’re up and awake. You’ve taken care of your physical and spiritual needs. Now you need to begin constructing a plan for productivity. 

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin

Planning your schedule is one of those fundamental habits that nearly every successful person has in common. There are whole books, websites, and products devoted to scheduling and planning your days. These tools can be as complex as a multi-tabbed leather-bound notebook or as simple as a basic planner app for your smartphone. Heck, you can even just use a pencil and a piece of scrap paper. The important thing is that you implement a system that will work for you consistently.

You can work on your plan during the quiet morning hours, or you could take some time to lay it all out in the evening before bed—but plan, you must. Here are a few ideas that might help:

  • In your planner, jot  down a list of any supplies you will need for the day; Extra water, snacks, project files or notes, your laptop, or anything else you can think of. This way, when you’re trying to get out the door and can’t remember everything at once, you can refer to your list to make sure you’re not forgetting some important item.
  • Write down every appointment as it comes up. As soon as you get an appointment card from your doctor, dentist, or hairstylist, write the date and time in the appropriate calendar section of your planner. To save time, you can even tape it to the appropriate day. It will serve as a visual reminder and also contains the phone numbers you need in the event you need to cancel your visit.
  • Set goals. Most planner systems have a section where you can set short and long-range goals about what you wish to accomplish. Take some time to list them out so you can refer back to them.
  • Prioritize tasks and activities. Often, we find ourselves getting caught up in “busywork” rather than productive work. One way around this is to assign each day’s tasks with a number. Write out your entire to-do list for the day and then assign each task a number. Number one tasks are those that are absolutely critical. You can start checking off items with a two beside them once your number one tasks are complete. Number three tasks are those you want to get to eventually but are not going to make or break your goals if you have to put them off. 
  • Check your lists frequently throughout the day to see how you’re doing. Remember, not every day will have the same level of productivity Some days, you will be killing it, and other days you might feel like you’re spinning your wheels. That’s okay, just as long as you keep going. Slow and steady wins the race but standing still accomplishes nothing. 

Closing Thoughts

Productive mornings are absolutely within your reach, but like most worthwhile endeavors, it will take some action on your part to see results. Print out this list and keep it with your planning tools. Take what works for you, make it yours, and leave what is not helpful or does not apply. With consistent effort, you will start to notice you can accomplish all kinds of things you never thought possible.