Stop Ruining Your Morning With These 6 Unproductive Habits

7 min

Did you know that writer Ernest Hemmingway would immediately write the moment he woke up?

Believe it or not, the choices we face each morning can either make or break the day. That’s why the most successful people have developed their own routines in order to become more productive. To CEOs, writers, marketers, investors, and innovators, mornings are what make a champion.

Want to leave work on time? Need an alternative to rushing to the office with a bagel on hand? Get rid of these bad morning habits today and see how much better your day can get.

1. Hitting The Snooze Button

Sleeping a couple of extra minutes after you’re already awake is not only going to make you late for work – it will also disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle. People with this habit will notice that they usually feel groggy instead of refreshed. According to the National Institutes of Health, this state is called sleep inertia: a midway condition of low performance the moment an individual wakes up.

Assuming there’s no medical condition and you got enough sleep (which is between eight to nine hours), sleep inertia will only last for up to 30 minutes. But if you didn’t get the required amount of rest the night before, this could last for up to four hours. In a 2014 survey by the National Sleep Foundation, 45 percent of Americans report problems with sleep quality. If you don’t feel well-rested, that would explain why you regularly reach for the snooze button.

The Solution:

  • Establish a sleeping schedule so you rest and wake up at regular times. This prevents you from oversleeping and keeps your body’s natural circadian rhythm in check. This should help you feel more alert at work, too.
  • Woke up in the middle of the night or can’t get to sleep? Get up and do something else. Try reading a book or magazine in a dim room. You can also jot down thoughts that are bugging you. Eventually, you will feel drowsy enough to climb into bed again.
  • Make sure your clock is facing away from you. Staring at it will only stress you and prevent a slow descent into sleep. Assure yourself that you can rest earlier the next day if you don’t get your eight hours tonight.
  • If it’s unavoidable to get only five or six hours of sleep, set your alarm clock for up to ten minutes later than usual. This should prevent you from hitting the snooze button.

2. Checking Social Media On Mobile

In a survey done by Bank of America, 35 percent of respondents say their phones are the first thing on their minds as soon as they wake up. Meanwhile in Australia, 45 percent of mobile users are on social media first thing in the morning. Whether you’re using it to check your email, social media, or to search for something, you’ve already wasted precious minutes of your day.

The Solution:

  • If you really can’t help but reach for your phone the second you wake up, make it count. Instead of mindlessly scrolling your social media feeds, try reading the news. Oleksandr Kosovan, CEO and founder of software development company MacPaw, incorporates this habit into his morning routine.
  • Using your phone as an alarm clock? Put it down after you’ve turned off the alarm. Then go make breakfast, make a beeline for the bathroom, or do some stretches.

3. Skipping Breakfast

Studies have shown time and again that a balanced morning meal can give you the power to breeze through tough tasks, maintain blood sugar levels, and provide your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs. But NOT just any breakfast.

A research paper published in the journal of Psychology and Behavior cites that meal composition also affects how a person will perform after eating. In the experiment, elementary children were given different types of breakfasts. After which, their cognitive performances were then measured. The kids who ate a morning meal with fiber fared better on the tests than those who didn’t eat anything.

The Solution:

  • During weekends, you can create a meal plan that incorporates breakfasts so you don’t need to rush should you oversleep. Try creating a list of delicious yet fast breakfast recipes you can do in less than 10 minutes.
  • Not all breakfasts need to be cooked. Smoothies are a quick and healthy alternative to the usual egg and toast combo. Plus, you get to include fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and your choice of sugars.
  • Not used to eating in the morning? Start light. Begin with smoothies, porridge, or fruits. As you get used to it, you may want to taste more delectable meals such as savory crepes, potato hash, or mushroom scramble.

4. Avoiding Exercise

According to medical professionals, adults need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a week. But how can you comply when you have a mountain of workload plus heavy traffic looming on you? If “getting fit” is not enough to motivate you, then let a 2013 research convince you.

According to the researchers, people who exercised in the morning did NOT eat additional calories during the day, nor did they feel any increase in appetite. Those who worked out on an empty stomach on the other hand, burned 20 percent more calories. Not only that, morning exercises are known to elevate mood levels, increase metabolism, and boost alertness.

The Solution:

  • Turn up some energetic tunes to gear yourself up for a work out.
  • Get your blood pumping with a quick jog around the neighborhood or nearby park. Bring your furry friends (your dogs) out as well to keep you motivated!
  • Have something to look forward to. Anything as simple as a brunch with friends, a tasty breakfast, or a new playlist, can get you ready for exercise in the early AM.

**Caution: For those with medical conditions, please consult your doctors before performing any form of activity in the morning.

5. Stressing Over Traffic

It may seem like a small deal – but be warned: according to experts, people who stress over the little things could lead to poor health. That’s because when you’re stressed, the hormone cortisol increases, resulting to high blood pressure and lower immunity.

A little “positive” stress, like sweaty hands before a first date or butterflies before a business presentation, is normal. However, exposure to prolonged stress, such in the case of traffic jams on the commute to work, could have lasting impacts. According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress can lead to coronary disease as well as other harmful outcomes.

By simply changing your mood and doing something to combat daily stressors, you can drop your risk of heart disease by up to 22 percent.

The Solution:

  • Traffic is unavoidable at times; but if you let it get to you, you’ll end up stressed before even stepping into the office. Calm your nerves with a bit of soothing music. Why not play your favorite song or pop in an audio book?
  • Breathe deeply and assure yourself that traffic is NOT the worst thing about your morning. Don’t worry: you’d still get to work and have enough time to finish your tasks.
  • Talk to someone. A simple conversation with a friend or loved one can help make you feel more at ease instead of worked up.

6. Prioritizing Emails

You may think that sitting down to check your emails is making you more productive, but think again. In fact, if you ask the most successful people about their work habits, one of the things they’ll tell you is to quit prioritizing your inbox in the morning. It can get pretty distracting real quick, and you never really do much work aside from read requests.

Personal development trainer Sid Savarac shares on a blog post that checking email first thing in the morning is a real time-killer because it’s NOT in your to-do list. He says it’s also an unspoken excuse because sometimes, you’re not sure what you want to do first.

The Solution:

  • Reserve this activity AFTER you’re done with your Big Rocks (like that report, business presentation, or the dreaded client meeting) for the day.
  • Set aside a specific time to check your emails – and stick to it! For instance: let’s say you allot only 30 minutes for this assignment. Time yourself. Once the minutes are up, move on to your next task.

Wrap It Up

In order to be more productive, you need to set your own pace for various tasks. Use mornings to set the tone for your day. Don’t waste your hours on activities that take control away from you. Remember that time is something we can’t get back once it’s gone – so use it wisely.

What’s your morning routine like? Is there anything you need to work on? Share in the comments below!