9 Things You Should Do When You Wake Up

To have a successful, productive day, it’s important to start it off the best way you can. Here are some tips!

Brian Rowe
Mar 2 · 9 min read
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Photo by Alan Ko at Unsplash

I don’t know if it’s my creative sensibilities that have always drawn me to the night rather than the morning, but I always struggle to do anything productive in the first hour after I wake up.

So many mornings I wake up and do two uninspired things…

  • Check my phone, look at new e-mails and my social media feeds
  • Turn on the TV and watch the news for an hour, usually CBS This Morning

I’ve been lucky this semester to get teaching assignments in the afternoon, so my mornings have mostly been free seven days a week since August.

The problem with filling my life with screens for the first hour of the day is that it completely sucks away my productivity. I struggle to get inspired when I’ve been watching TV for too long in the morning and have been glued to my phone and have gotten pretty much nothing accomplished. It’s relaxing, I guess, but it doesn’t do a thing for my productivity.

In the last few days, I’ve tried to mix up my activities when I wake up, and I’ve finally started having much more success throughout the morning… and more productivity throughout the day!

Here are 9 things you should think about trying in the mornings to come…


Keep Screens Turned Off for 30-minutes

This is the main change I’ve made in the last week, and I’ve already noticed a huge difference in my attitude for the rest of the morning. We’re so wired to immediately check our phones, want to make sure we haven’t missed anything in those few hours we were asleep, and it’s a practice I’ve finally stopped.

I check one thing — my e-mails. Once every few weeks I have an e-mail in my inbox in the early morning I simply have to respond to for whatever reason, that I shouldn’t wait for. But I leave that deep dive into the social media feeds for later. For at least thirty minutes. It will all still be there in a half-hour, after all.

Give yourself a little bit of time after you wake up away from all the screens in our lives. We’re so pressed for time these days that a few minutes away from the screens first thing in the morning will do you a world of good!


Read

And for me, the most pleasurable way to start my day is reading physical books. Again, physical books, not E-readers! I keep at least three in my drawer beside my bed at all times, always rotating throughout the weeks. I told some friends recently that I read one book a week, and they were shocked. They asked me how. I said I read for at least thirty minutes after I wake up, and I usually read for thirty minutes in the bath at the end of the night.

One hour a day of reading, and I can usually get through one book a week, depending on its length. I’m not a fast reader at all. I actually read pretty slowly. But just like how writing a little bit every day can result in tons of words a year, reading a little bit every day can also allow you to read lots of great books throughout the year!

Better yet, reading is a great way to start your morning because it strengthens your mind. Instead of just mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds and watching the news and tons of commercials, you start the day feeding your mind, not destroying it. Reading is a great relaxer, and it’s a simply fantastic way to start your day!


Meditate

I went on a meditation hike for the first time in my life in September, and it was one of the most gloriously calming mornings I’ve spent in a long time. I walked with my mother through a forest and enjoyed short and long meditations throughout the hike. I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day.

I never meditate. I always feel like it’s a waste of time when actually, it will add to your time and boosts your productivity throughout your day. There are lots of meditations you can try. You can do it for just five or ten minutes if you’d like!

There are so many ways just in your bed you can find some inner peace before you conquer the craziness of your day. Finding something that calms you down first thing will help you for hours on end. Meditation is definitely something you should look into.


Drink Green Tea

Okay, okay, you can have coffee too of course, but I’ve always found a cup of green tea to be an excellent way to start my day. There are so many benefits to green tea. It’s such a healthy drink, and once you start drinking it every day, you really start to develop a taste for it. I kind of crave it now every morning, and I always notice a little boost to my mood after I drink it.

Now, a few things about green tea. I get nauseous if I drink it on an empty stomach, and it might make you nauseous too. It’s best to drink it with a little food. It doesn’t have to be a full breakfast if you don’t want it to be. It can be something small, like some fruit or a slice of toast with peanut butter. But do eat something with it if you can.

Also, keep in mind that green tea has caffeine, so you don’t want to drink too much of it. My advice is two cups a morning tops. Furthermore, be careful not to drink the tea when it’s too hot. I’ve actually read articles about how drinking too much hot tea day after day can damage your throat! So enjoy green tea in moderation, and make sure it’s lukewarm before you drink it.


Exercise

This is something I used to do all the time in the morning during my twenties, and I’ve tried, finally, to start it up again. For so long I found myself using the morning and afternoon to complete my tasks, like my writing and my teaching, and then I would go for a run or go to a gym in the early evening when all the major tasks have already been accomplished.

But you know what? It’s important to mix things up sometimes, and I’ve finally started taking my dogs on a few short runs in the morning lately rather than in the afternoon or evening. They’re always more energetic in the morning anyway, so it works out for all three of us!

You can do any kind of exercise you want. I personally love to go for a jog around the neighborhood. It’s free, it’s easy, you get some fresh air, and you can be out and back in thirty to forty minutes. My gym is a ten-minute drive away, so when I go to the gym, there’s an extra twenty minutes on top of the work-out session itself. Therefore I usually save the gym for the weekends and go for runs between Monday and Friday.

The important thing about exercising in the morning is that it will benefit you for the rest of the day in more ways than one. Exercising first thing will keep you fit physically and mentally. It will get you excited for the day to come. It will get you motivated to be more productive for the rest of the morning and throughout the day!


Take a Shower and Put On Fresh Clothes

This is one of the easiest things you can do, and it’s one of the most helpful! As a writer, I have lots of days where I sit around the house in my pajamas and write, write, write, sometimes until 4 pm or 5 pm before I go for a jog and take a shower. My thinking is that I’m going to exercise later, so why take two showers in my day? I’m not going anywhere, so I’ll just stay in my PJs.

The thing is that how you feel reflects on what you’re going to accomplish throughout the day. And there’s something about being in your PJs that gives you a feeling of worthlessness, as unemployed, as being lazy. Even if you’re not lazy.

Taking a shower and putting on fresh clothes tells yourself that you’re here, you’re present, and you’re going to kick the shit out of the day the best you can. You’re showing up for yourself, not lounging around in your PJs for hours and hours.


Write for Five Minutes Straight

This goes for writers and non-writers. This one goes for everyone! Writing is such a therapeutic activity. You get to put your thoughts down, you get to work through your ideas, it allows you to be as creative as you want to be.

One thing I love to do in the morning is to grab my little red notebook from my desk drawer and write for five minutes straight. Sometimes that five minutes of writing is putting ideas down for a new story. Sometimes it’s putting down in as much detail as possible a weird dream I just had. Often it’s just writing to write!

Freewriting, always the best. Because there’s never a wrong answer. It’s just a way to put ideas down. You don’t even have to read over your work when those five minutes are up. Put the notebook away, and then maybe in the evening pull it back up and see what you wrote. Sometimes it’s jibberish that doesn’t amount to much, but sometimes there will be a nugget in there that will be helpful and inspiring!


Cuddle With Your Pets

I can’t tell you the difference my two Goldendoodles have made in my life this past year. They are the sweetest things ever. They love to play, love to cuddle. And never more so than first thing in the morning in bed. How lucky are we to have dogs in the first place, am I right?

Sure, my dogs get into trouble sometimes (they ripped up one of my favorite books last week in the backyard, gasp!), but for the most part, they are pure love, and cuddling with them first thing in the morning is a great start to my day.

Don’t feel like you have to make an excuse if all you want to do for twenty minutes is cuddle with your pet. It’s always important to start each day in a positive way, and what’s more positive than having loving animals at your side?


Eat Dessert First

One more excuse you shouldn’t have to make? Eating dessert first thing! We’re so programmed to eat a certain kind of thing for breakfast, a certain kind of thing for lunch. And of course, you’re programmed to save that special sweet for the end of your day.

Sure, I love to have some dessert at the end of a long day. It’s so relaxing to enjoy a tasty dinner, then follow it up with something chocolatey, something savory. I try to be good. I try to alternate my desserts between healthy and not so healthy. I try not to go completely nuts with my sweets.

But one final thing you should do when you wake up and eat dessert first. No, don’t have a giant bowl of ice cream or a slice of caramel swirl cheesecake. But a little something sweet on the mouth can fill you with joy, and what’s wrong with that? Some of my favorites for the morning — a piece of dark chocolate, a chocolate-covered strawberry, or bananas foster style.

That last dessert almost works as a breakfast because it’s actually fairly healthy, mixing low-fat cottage cheese with sliced bananas and 100% maple syrup. It’s important not to weigh yourself down first thing in the morning. You want to feel your best. So find something sweet that makes you happy, that makes you feel good, and then you’re well on your way!


Do What Works Best for You

Don’t feel like you need to attempt all nine of these things in the first hour of your day. You could certainly try (I might even try it in the days to come), but it might be too overwhelming.

Instead, I would pick three or four of these and try to attempt at least one of them each morning. Try one for a few days, then switch over to something else if you’d like. Maybe blend two or three of them. And see how you feel. See what feels right, what makes you most inspired, most productive.

That first hour after waking up is absolutely crucial to the success of your day. Give some of these things a try… and see what works best for you!

Mind Cafe

Relaxed, inspiring essays about happiness.

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