Written by Ben Laing – A Fife based Online Marketing Consultant who will be sharing his tips on productivity and getting out of bed which he has picked up in the last 4 years of self employment
In this article I hope to share with you my very best tips on getting up in the morning and maximising your productivity, so you can wake up each morning as I do, feeling super productive with the steps of your routine embedded in your brain as a morning ritual.
I will also give you my hand written morning and evening routines, which you can use as a guide to create your own routine that will most effectively suit your own lifestyle.
For most of my life, I’ve had problems with ‘morning idle-ness’, which generally results in me sleeping in and struggling to be productive. Over the last three years since going self-employed with my own internet marketing business I’ve found that by creating a routine with the right steps which you can refine and amend, I’ve strengthened my morning routine in a way that allows me to wake up every morning feeling super productive and ALWAYS being ready for the challenges of the day.
If you struggle with similar problems, I can guarantee that at least one of my tips will help you get up, stay up and enhance your productivity in the mornings.
I want to help you to create a morning routine that works and that will also add structure to the rest of your day! The best tip I can offer you for developing a successful ‘morning routine’ is to also have an ‘evening routine’ so that they complement one another. Although they may seem somewhat obvious, I can guarantee you that these tips have absolutely transformed the way that I live and work productively!
1) Evening Routine tips
- Chill out bro: I have an alarm set on my iPhone every Sunday to Thursday night at 10pm that says “Chill” this in my mind is to make sure I’m winding down and back at the house so that I’m not doing anything that involves effort, stress or energy like work, driving and definitely not sports as these things keep your blood pumping, brain processing and too many thoughts to even think about laying in bed. Therefore I make sure I’m doing something I enjoy that takes no effort like watching the TV, playing FIFA on the Xbox or pleasurable reading or listening to an audio book like a autobiography, history, sport, lifestyle and fiction books, if you like (but I only read non fiction)
- Go to bed when your tired: The time mentioned above is obviously my own set time and yours will be different to suit your life but as obvious as it sounds you should go to sleep when your tired and make sure you get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep minimum. I recommend getting out of bed at least 2 hours (add travel time) before you start work. So if you start (or want to start) at 9am and it takes you half an hour to get to work, then get up at 6:30 allowing you plenty time to fit in your routine. I work from home and I get up at 6:30am every weekday and do not start until about 8:30 so I can fit in my full routine, which helps me start every day as effectively as possible.
- Prepare for next day: Once I’ve wound down, I will then get prepared for the next morning by choosing what I’m wearing so I don’t have to waste time doing this in the morning, set my extremely loud bell alarm clock on the other side of the room so I need to get up to turn it off (therefore getting out of bed) and the fact that it’s so loud means I will definitely hear it. I’ll then pour myself a pint glass of water and place it on my bedside cabinet and drink it as soon as I wake up because every morning we wake up we’re actually dehydrated so this gives you the hydration and energy your body needs.
- Give yourself a reason to wake up: Although I’m passionate about what I do, I also love my bed and sleep so I find that you need to give yourself an extra incentive to be excited to wake up. For me; buying the best coffee and coffee machine works a charm as I love good coffee and knowing I’ve got freshly ground coffee waiting for me in the morning helps me spring out of bed every day. I’m actually quite lucky and have my girlfriend make me one every morning before she leaves for work at 6:30am. Give this a go!
- Check your calendar: I advise you always check your calendar for appointments and meetings the next morning and take some notes so you know in your clear head what your plans are tomorrow and prevent waking up in the middle of the night worrying to the point you have to check if you have something important to do first thing.
- Do not disturb: Sleep is vital and we need to make sure we get enough without disturbance to be fully productive the next day. When you are going to sleep put your phone on silence or do not disturb mode on iPhones so you don’t hear the emails, text and sometimes phone calls through the middle of the night.
- Phone forbidden: I use a very unusual but effective technique, which I made up myself. First cut a piece of paper to the same size as your mobile phone screen, then write Forbidden until (set time) and last use an elastic band to hold this piece of paper in front of the phone screen. I have set a rule that I won’t touch my phone again until the next morning at 11am unless I’m leaving my house. Before I set this rule I realised my phone was the main time waster and sleep depriver at night before bedtime and in the mornings while ‘getting ready’ for work. Now set yourself your own rule and enhance your sleep and productivity for life. Here is also an app that keeps you focused on what’s more important in your life: Forest: Stay focused app
2) Morning Routine tips
- Get up earlier: If you follow your evening routine and go to bed early enough try getting up earlier and extend your day by a couple of hours and make full use of the peaceful morning to get your work done with zero distractions.
- Avoid all media: Don’t watch the TV and don’t touch your phone, tablet, laptop and any other distracting technology until you are finished your morning routine and ready to use them effectively. I find my phone to be the biggest time waster for me in the morning so I’ve forbidden myself from using it.
- Readers are leaders: Instead of watching the TV, I highly suggest reading an educational non fiction book (books on business and leadership for the business owners). I read from chapter to chapter every morning excited to wake up and read the next. Buy it, don’t borrow a book or try reading one already lying about the house because it’s lying there, not being read for a good reason. The psychology of spending your own money will make you actually put an effort in to read it. Make sure you don’t just pick any book to read. Make sure you check it’s reviews and read the book’s blurb until you find a book that was ‘made for you’ and buy it! Even if you think your not a reader. Give it another go! After leaving school I stopped reading all together which I truly regret now that I’ve restarted because as soon as you stop reading, you stop educating yourself.
- I work out: Exercise wakes up your mind and gets the blood pumping through your body. Do this before going in the shower while the caffeine is still doing it’s magic. I personally do 20x push ups, 20x sit ups and 60x various weight lifting.
- Pineapples: Soldiers take canned pineapple in their rations because of the great energy you get from them and the high source of Vitamin C to help the immune system. Eating any type of fruit every morning will give the similar health benefits but nothing beats pineapple in the morning unless you hate the taste. (tip: Pineapple contains citric acid which can be sore on the tongue. To cut the acid, add a dash of salt).
- Hydration: I always keep a pint glass of water on my bedside cabinet and drink the full glass with my multi vitamin, hay fever and fish oil tablets as soon as I wake up. Drinking water first thing in the morning has many benefits. We usually get dehydrated over night simply from sleeping for hours (hopefully lots of them) without fluids so it hydrates as well as boosting your metabolism and since your brain is mostly water it also helps you stay focused and concentrate better and be more alert.
- Make a daily to-do lists and short term goals: I think it’s best to set short term goals rather than long term and create a daily to do list with a realistic set of tasks to be done in each new day that will get you closer to achieving your goals. I usually only set myself 3 main tasks in each day and plan the week ahead every Monday. Make sure you write this list before jumping in and getting started on any work so you are running the day instead of the day running you.
- Avoid the inbox: Starting off your day by opening your inbox can be very unproductive because as new emails come in you tend to read them and deal with them over your priorities, so look at your to do list first and get the more important urgent tasks done first thing in the morning before anything else distracts you. Set certain times of the day that you will view your emails and reply to all new emails at once and follow up. I’ve started only looking at my emails at 11am then again at 4pm. Make sure people know that this is when you’ll respond to them by email and only if it’s urgent they should call you. This can be set up using email auto reply or an auto responder.
- “Eat the frog”: If you’ve not heard of the term it means to get your least desirable but most important task done before you do anything else. Once you’ve got this out the way it can make you feel super productive and motivated to take on the rest of the day! (Buy the book Eat That Frog!: Get More of the Important Things Done – Today!by Brian Tracy)
Focusing on what excites you gives you the energy and power to strive. The saying “Do what you love for work and you’ll never work a day in your life” can be true but sometimes the things that you love doing may not be something that is profitable but you must enjoy what you do for work or you’ll never want to get out of bed in the mornings.
Although I’ve always been passionate about what I do, it is easy to lose sight of goals and why you are doing what you are doing. This can cause you to lose the passion you once had that springs you out of bed naturally, so place things around your work space that remind you why your doing what your doing and keep your focus on what truly excites you.
Your whole day can be improved by the way you start it, and so can your life, so tweaking your daily routine slightly to test what makes you more effective is a great tip to improve your productivity. Here is one example of a change I made to my own morning routine:
I found a flaw in my morning routine and changed the order of having my shower before exercise because during and after exercise you sweat and it just made sense to shower after exercise. So I now get up, have coffee then exercise before going in the shower instead of: getting up, having shower, then coffee, then exercise. This not only fixed the perspiration issue but I noticed I actually get ready faster in the mornings doing it in this order because I feel less sluggish and more awake by the time I come out the shower when I’ve already done my exercise and the caffeine has started kicking in.
5) Download my routine
If your struggling on where to start, you can download my morning and evening routine by clicking here to get my free PDF download.
This routine works in a way that hugely compliments my lifestyle and I hope these tips and ideas which I’ve combined all in one from my three years of self employment will inspire you to create your own and get similar results as me.
- What tips on productivity and waking up do you have up your sleeve?
- Do you have a daily routine that works for you?
Please share your productivity tips in the comments section below.