I don't know anyone who couldn't use a little boost in their energy and self-control.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham recently published the results of their exploration of 83 separate studies on the energy and self-control. What they found will change the way you start your day.
Researchers have found that self-control and energy are not only intertwined but also limited daily resources that strain much like a muscle. Although we may not always realize it, as we go along we find it increasingly difficult to master and concentrate on our work. As self-control wears down, we feel tired and find tasks more difficult and our moods deteriorate.
This self-control burnout kills your productivity and makes for hours in the morning , when self-control is highest, the most important hours of the day.
But the trick isn't just to spend your working hours in the morning; it's doing the right things in the morning that will make your energy and self-control last as long as possible.
"For the past 33 years, I've looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, 'If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I'm about to do? do today?'” And every time the answer has been 'no' for too many days in a row, I know I have to change something. –Steve Jobs
Nottingham's research led me to discover ways to break bad habits in the morning and maximize our energy and self-control throughout the day.
Wake up naturally feeling alert and productive or whether you wake up with the brain of a zombie, these tips will help transform your morning routine and set a positive tone that lasts all day.
Related: How Positivity Makes You Healthy and Effective
1. Start with exercise.
Researchers at the University of Bristol have found that people who exercise during the workday have more energy and a more positive attitude, both of which are essential to get things going. Moving your body for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that calms your brain and puts you in control of your impulses. Exercising first thing in the morning ensures you have the time and improves your self-control and energy levels throughout the day.
2. But drink lemon water first.
Drinking lemon water as soon as you wake up increases your energy level both physically and mentally. Lemon water gives you natural, consistent energy that lasts all day long by improving nutrient absorption in your stomach. You should drink it in the morning (on an empty stomach) to ensure complete absorption. You should also wait 15-30 minutes after drinking it before eating (ideal time for exercise). Lemons are packed with nutrients; they are full of potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants. If you weigh less than 150 pounds, drink the juice of half a lemon and a full lemon if you are over 150 pounds. Do not drink the juice without water as it is hard on your teeth.
3. No screen time before breakfast.
When you dive straight into email, text and Facebook, you lose focus and your morning succumbs to the wants and needs of others. It's much healthier to take those precious first moments of the day to do something relaxing that sets a calm, positive tone for your day. Jumping straight into electronics has the opposite effect:it's a frenetic way to start your day. Exercising, meditating or even watching the birds out the window are all great ways to start the day.
4. Eat a real breakfast.
Eating anything for breakfast puts you in front of a lot of people. People who eat breakfast are less likely to be obese, they have more stable blood sugar levels, and they tend to feel less hungry throughout the day. And these are just the statistics of people who eat breakfast. When you eat a healthy breakfast, the doors to a productive day are thrown wide open. A healthy breakfast energizes you, improves your short-term memory, and helps you focus harder and for longer periods of time.
5. Set goals for the day.
Research shows that having concrete goals is correlated with huge increases in confidence and feelings of control. Setting specific goals for the day sets everything in motion. Limit your goals to a few achievable goals that can easily be broken down into steps. Vague goals such as "I want to finish writing my article" are counterproductive because they don't include the "how" of things. The same objective rephrased more functionally would read, “I will complete my article by writing each of the three sections, spending no more than an hour on each section.” Now you have more than just something you want to achieve – you have a way to achieve it.
Starting your morning at home is important, but it's only half the battle. If you can't maintain that tone once you set foot in the office, your morning can quickly lose momentum. Here's how to maintain a productive tone once in the office:
6. First, clean your workspace.
Even though it's a pain to get a good clean when you get to work, it makes a big difference in your ability to concentrate. A Princeton University study found that people who worked in a clean workspace outperformed those who worked in a cluttered space because clutter distracts your attention from your work. In fact, the effects of clutter on concentration are not that different from the effects of multitasking.
7. No email until you've eaten three frogs.
"Eating a frog" is the greatest antidote to procrastination, and the most productive people know the importance of biting into this delicacy first thing in the morning. In other words, spend your morning on something that requires a high level of concentration that you don't want to do, and you will do it quickly. Make a habit of eating three frogs before checking your email because email is a major distraction that allows for procrastination and wastes valuable mental energy.
“Eat a live frog in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. -Mark Twain
8. Assign times to your to-do list and monitor your progress against your goals.
There's no point in setting goals in the morning if you don't record them. Look at what you have done so far with a critical eye. If you realize you're late or doing shoddy work, it's important to adjust your goals or work ethic so you can move intentionally throughout the day.
9. Keep morning meetings on schedule.
Meetings are the biggest waste of time and they can ruin an otherwise productive morning. People who use their mornings know a meeting will last forever if they allow it. Therefore, they let everyone know from the start that they will stick to the schedule. This sets a boundary that motivates everyone to be more focused and efficient. Keep your morning meetings on time and your entire day will stay on track.
10. Don't multitask.
Multitasking in the morning – when you have a lot to do, tons of energy, and feel like you can do two or three things at once – is tempting , but it delays your whole day. Research conducted at Stanford University has confirmed that multitasking is less productive than doing one thing at a time. Researchers have found that people who are regularly bombarded with multiple streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information, or switch between jobs, as well as those who complete one task at a time.
But what if some people have a special gift for multitasking? Stanford researchers compared groups of people based on their tendency to multitask and their belief that it improves their performance. They found that heavy multitaskers (those who do a lot of tasks and think it improves their performance) were actually less effective at multitasking than those who like to do one thing at a time. Frequent multitaskers were less successful because they had a harder time organizing their thoughts and filtering out irrelevant information, and they were slower to switch between tasks. Ouch!
Multitasking reduces your efficiency and performance because your brain can only properly focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at once, your brain lacks the capacity to perform both tasks successfully.
11. Finally, say no.
“No” is a powerful word that will protect your precious mornings. When it's time to say no, avoid phrases like "I don't think I can" or "I'm not sure." Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them while your mind is fresh. Research from the University of California, San Francisco has shown that the harder it is to say no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Learn how to use no and it will improve your mood as well as your productivity.
The right morning routine can make your day, every day. The trick is to be intentional about your mornings, knowing that morning hours are precious and should be handled with care.
What do you do in the morning to start the day off right?
Related: 5 Strategies for Your Most Productive Workday
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.