What if there were a way to beat that all-too-familiar 2 PM slump that most of us feel during the course of our workday? It turns out that there are a number of worthwhile strategies you can adopt to fight it back, and they mostly revolve around having a plan for your morning.
Starting your mornings intentionally can yield all kinds of benefits, catapulting you into the workday with a clear head and plenty of energy. Here are some ideas for making sure you have amazing mornings.
Set an alarm for the evening that tells you when to go to bed.
The most important step to having a productive morning is to set yourself up for success the night before. You already use an alarm to wake up on time every morning, so why not use an evening alarm to tell you when to go to bed? If you don’t get seven to eight hours of sleep before waking up to a ringing alarm, you’re not going to feel well. You know this! Identify your target time for waking up and set an alarm for eight or nine hours ahead of time. When your evening alarm goes off, start getting ready for bed.
Now that you’re conscious, do something physical to actually get yourself awake.
It can be as easy as dropping and doing 30 pushups. Perhaps you have an exercise or yoga video you can do each morning. Physical activity of nearly any sort will yield huge dividends in the morning This serves the purposes of getting your blood flowing and to also establish a routine.
Now that you’re awake, get inspired.
Watch a TedTalk on a topic you’re interested in or want to know more about. Keep a collection of internet articles that you want to read later — a number of apps make this a snap. Try Instapaper or Pocket for this. Instead of watching a cat video (which can be very relieving and mood-lightening), why not go for something a little more substantive that gets you in the mood to achieve?
Make a plan for the day.
Ben Franklin famously laid out a plan for how he conducted each day. In the mornings, he described that he would regularly “contrive the day’s business.” This is mostly just a fancy way of saying “make a plan for what you want to accomplish that day.” If you can make it into a to-do list, all the better. With a plan in hand, you can gauge how successful you were with what needed to get done that day.
It doesn’t need to be something elaborate, or even necessarily complicated. You can make scrambled eggs in the microwave instead of using a pan every morning. Throw some nuts and fruit into yogurt and you have an instant parfait. Get some fuel into your body early and start reaping the benefits sooner.
Experiment and figure out what works for you.
Winston Churchill would famously spend several hours each morning working from his bed, from roughly 7:30 to 11 or so. We’re not encouraging you to do this specifically, but the takeaway is clear: identify a work situation that lets you remain both comfortable and productive, and you’re well on your way to staying positive and energized throughout the day.
Two parting thoughts.
If you work a conventional Monday to Friday workweek, it’s no problem to give yourself some slack on the weekends. If you’re waking up at 5 AM every morning to enjoy some quiet time before work each day, you don’t necessarily need to stick to this regimented schedule over the weekend. But it’s important not to sleep in too much, or else you lose all that positive momentum you gained during the week. Habits build cumulatively — the closer you can stick to a consistent wakeup time, the better.
Lastly, there is no reason to check your email before 8 AM or so. If you’re waking up early before work each day, consider that time that is specifically set aside for your own benefit. There is effectively no difference between returning an email at 6:30 AM and returning it at 9 AM. Why fill your brain with more things to do when the odds are good that the recipient is still asleep?