This is a guest post written by my good friend & fellow Udemy Instructor – Jack Wilson. His passion is fitness and healthy living and he has quite the impressive story. You can find out more information about him on his website.
I think that when most people hear the words “morning routine” they think of some complex and exhausting series of rituals that leads to better productivity and some kind of hippy mental state of nirvana. Let me be the first to tell you, it doesn’t have to be that complicated.
Here’s what you need to know about morning routines and building habits.
-Most of the time, the simplest habits to follow tend to be the most beneficial and most effective, for fat loss or increasing your work effectiveness.
– Picking the right habits are ALWAYS more important than stacking a ton of habits that you pulled from magazines.
– Putting your health first is one of the best ways to lose body fat and cultivate mental clarity for your day at work.
– If you aren’t goal oriented, it will be easier to follow distractions and get nothing done.
For Your Health and Productivity
Whether you are a morning person or not, this article is going to empower you to make yourself a healthier and more productive person. It is all about starting your day off on the right foot.
I started taking my morning routine seriously about a year and a half ago when I went from the working world to starting my own business and becoming fully self-employed. When you are responsible for making your own schedule and your own money, routines, time, and productivity immediately rise to the forefront of importance .
What I have found is that when you keep your routine so simple that a sleepless zombie could walk through it (i.e. you and me both!) you have built the perfect series of habits. I find that taking a few minutes to plan out tomorrow by prepping the night before can make stepping through your habits almost automatic and mindless, which saves you a lot of time and sanity points.
Humans, like other animals, are creatures of habit. When our schedules are thrown for a loop we can’t operate or function at our best. That’s when our health and productivity go down the drains.
Why Health and Productivity?
You may be asking yourself, “Do I have to be one of those people who wake up at the crack of dawn to go running?” Absolutely not, but I’ll let you in on a little secret of how I can pack 3 normal person work days into 8-10 hours at my computer.
I work out!
It’s really that simple. Want to know what I have found out about the fitness community that isn’t directly related to sweat, iron, or six pack abs? They are some of the most productive, diligent, disciplined, hard-working people that I know.
Bare in mind that you don’t have to workout in the morning to lose fat and have a healthier, more productive day, but I would highly recommend it. So without further adieu, let’s jump into 6 simple habits that you can start using tomorrow to lose fat and be more productive.
1) Exercise for at least 10 Minutes First thing in the Morning
Reaping the full health and productivity benefits of exercising in the morning don’t require 30-60 minutes of arduous running, slogging away on the bike, or dragging yourself to the gym for a grueling circuit class.
I recommend that most of my clients and students budget out only 10-20 minutes in the morning to get their day started on the right foot. That’s all it takes to reap the maximum amount of productive and metabolic benefits of your morning routine.
Working out in the morning when your body is in a fasted state is excellent for fat loss. When you don’t have food in your gut or bloodstream and a good night’s sleep has depleted your glycogen stores, your body is going to go straight for your fat for energy. Exercising in the morning has also shown to increase your resting metabolism for the rest of your day, which is optimal for fat loss.
You are also going to get a nice rush of endorphins after your workout. Endorphins are your body’s natural painkillers that will help you recover afterward and avoid soreness for a significant period of time after your workout. These nice little chemicals flood your brain, causing a natural state of clarity and euphoria. This is the boost that you are going to carry throughout your day to get more done in less time.
Whether you decide to take a jog, walk, do a bodyweight workout at home, jump rope, or swing a kettlebell, do something that gets you sweating and elevates your heart rate. Warmup for 5-6 minutes to get your heartrate up and make sure you have blood and oxygen flowing to your muscle groups to increase the effectiveness of your workout, and prevent injury.
2) Jump in a Cold Shower
Jumping into a cold shower right after your quick and intense workout is going to further shock your body awake and increase your cognitive function and awareness. Now, you don’t have to jump straight to freezing cold water if you don’t want to. I usually start with warm water, depending on how hot and sweaty I am after my workout. Then I’ll flip it to as cold as I can stand for 2-3 minutes.
You can actually use a cold shower to accelerate your fat loss and help you lose weight. Here’s how: as soon as you turn the shower to cold, turn around and position the showerhead so that the cold water is running down the back of your neck. The back of your neck, up around your shoulders, has one of the highest concentrations of brown adipose tissue (BAT- also known as “fat burning fat”) in your entire body.
By blasting that area with cold water you are going to rapidly cool your body, and when your body is exposed to cold temperatures, it has to work harder to maintain it’s temperature equilibrium of 98.6 degrees fahrenheit. That energy is created by burning more calories, and more fat.
3) Take a Moment of Peace
Meditation has become one of the most popular trends in the health world for two very good reasons
1. We need as many stress coping mechanisms as we can get.
2. It works!
Whether you decide to use one of the many free or paid guided meditation apps or podcasts for yourself or not, block out some time for peace, quiet, and thankfulness first thing in the morning. Take a little bit of time to declutter your brain by taking in the fresh morning air, sipping your coffee, and being completely involved in using your 5 senses to observe the calm morning around you.
Practice getting in a state of mindfulness and dramatically reduce your stress, improve your mental clarity, and increase your productivity. Try taking 10-20 minutes tomorrow morning and see how you feel afterward.
4) Write Down Your 3 Critical Daily Tasks
I actually take down the 3 most critical tasks that I want to accomplish for next day, the night before. That way I don’t have any internal conflicts first thing in the morning of what work is the most important, it’s already been decided for me.
Making it your goal to accomplish the quickest and easiest task first is absolutely critical for heightening your productivity. If you waste or use a lot of time working on a massive project first thing in the day, it is going to bog you down and make you feel stressed and helpless.
Knock out your easiest tasks firsts to give yourself the feeling of triumph and accomplishment immediately, and then move on to the bigger fish with confidence instead of distress.
5) Eliminate distractions
In an office environment where you are at the whim of your email inbox, the constant distraction of our friends posting cute animal videos on social media, and the pinging of our phone notifications, it is a wonder that we get anything done!
Eliminating as many distractions as possible is crucial for increasing your productivity and reducing your stress levels. If you can just limit or completely cut your technology use for the first hour or two of the morning, you will notice a massive improvement in your mindset and what you are able to accomplish.
Here are some steps that you can take to eliminate electronic distractions.
– Do NOT have your email open in your browser first thing in the morning.
– Do NOT use your browser for social media use in the morning, unless it is 100% work related.
– Only use your browser windows to accomplish your critical tasks, just for the first 2 hours of the morning.
– You and I both check our social media regularly enough on our phone that we don’t need notifications on them. So either 1) Shut off your social notifications or 2) Put your phone on do not disturb or airplane mode for the first 1-2 hours that you are at work.
6) Eliminate as Many Decisions as Possible with Pre-planning
This is a sneaky one that may trip you up. I am a huge believer in that each of us only has a limited amount of decisions that we can make every day before our brains need to shut down and relax. Some of you may have a threshold of 80-100 decisions, others may have 100-150.
Regardless of the approximate amount of sound decisions that you can make in a day, it is important that you preserve as many of those as possible for tasks that matter. So eliminating nagging decisions like what shoes or outfit to wear, what your workout is going to be, and what you are going to have for breakfast is a waste of time and effort.
Plan out as many of those simple decisions as you can the night before so that you don’t get tripped up first thing in the morning. Remember that creating a positive and productive start is essential for melting fat and increasing your productivity.
– Choose your outfit and shoes for work the night before
– Plan out your workout the night before on a notepad or a document in your phone. Keep it simple.
– Keep your breakfast as simple as possible, and go for high protein. Shakes and smoothies are awesome for saving time and losing body fat.
– Pack healthy lunch and take it to work so that you don’t get overwhelmed with unhealthy options on your lunch break.
Don’t put this off. Start planning your routine for tomorrow now. Take a little bit of time to…
– Decide what your workout is going to be
– Select your simple and healthy breakfast
– Plan and/or pack your healthy lunch for work
– Plan your 3 most important tasks for tomorrow
– Pick your outfit for tomorrow
– Block out some time for relaxation or meditation