Good habits are the basic building blocks of a productive and predictable morning routine. Starting your morning on a fresh and positive note helps you to get into the right momentum for the rest of the day. Habits help you to make decisions in a more automatic manner. This allows you to spend your time on more meaningful matters, and on things that truly count.
When you abide by a set of good habits, you can avoid a rushed start to the day. That’s right, no more putting on your clothes and dashing out with a sandwich in your hand every morning. With fewer things to worry about each day, you can perform better at the things you do. Think of it as turning on the autopilot mode for your mind.
Chances are that you have already formed habits of some sort. Perhaps you would wake up at six in the morning for some light exercise. Or you might be someone who enjoys sleeping in on weekends so that you would feel refreshed and recharged for a new week ahead. There are also people who would jump straight into action and start working right after getting out of bed.
Increase your productivity by building better habits onto your existing ones.
Here are some of the good habits which you can start with as building blocks for your morning routine:
- Wake up at the same time every morning, including weekends
- Stop hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock
- Open the curtains and let some sunlight in
- Make your bed, and look forward to an organised room after school
- Freshen yourself up by washing your face and brushing your teeth
- Get dressed for the day, as early as possible
- Drink a glass of water and get hydrated
- Eat breakfast at the dining table and spend some family time together
- Take a ten-minute brisk walk and breathe in some fresh air
- Go through your schedule for the day
- Read a book during your morning commute
Build Better Mornings with these Good Habits
1. Wake up at the same time every morning, including weekends
Decide on a suitable time to wake up every morning, ensuring that you cater enough time for your morning activities. Train your biological clock to wake you up at the same time every morning. It doesn’t matter whether you are a morning person or a night owl. All you need is to start the day at the same time every day.
Of course, you should avoid the temptation of sleeping in on weekends and during the holidays, as this can quickly throw your sleep cycle off course. Also, make sure that you are getting enough sleep so that you can wake up naturally without feeling tired. You might miss out on something important when you’re half-awake. That’s something which you can avoid by having a consistent sleep schedule.
2. Stop hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock
To readjust your body clock and wake up at the same time every morning, you could set an alarm – at least for the first few days to help you get started. Once you get into the habit of waking up at the same time every day, you may not need to depend on the alarm any more. Your body would naturally recognise that it is time to wake up.
However, there’s just one slight risk you need to take when using an alarm. Hitting the snooze button multiple times before getting out of bed is a waste of your precious time. Those extra unproductive minutes in bed does not count towards your sleep duration. One common but effective trick is to place your alarm clock (or mobile phone) far from your bed. That means you would need to physically get out of bed to turn the alarm off. If not, there’s a mobile app with an alarm that cannot be turned off until you solve a mathematics problem.
3. Open the curtains and let some sunlight in
In dense urban places like Singapore, light can easily find its way into your bedroom when you are trying to catch some slumber. Thankfully, curtains can help us to keep some of the stray light at bay. Studies have shown that sleeping with the curtains closed may improve your sleep quality, especially if you are a light sleeper. A dark room also increases the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
By the same principle, letting some sunlight in can tell our body that it’s time to get up. For those who need to wake up when the sky is still dark, switching on the lights can be a good psychological alternative. You could also open your windows to let some fresh air into your room.
4. Make your bed, and look forward to an organised room after school
You can tell how disciplined and organised a person is by looking at whether they consistently make their bed every morning. Making your bed tells your body that it needs to get ready for an exciting day ahead. It gives you a sense of accomplishment as you have completed your first task for the day. It motivates you to complete more tasks and work towards success.
Neatly folded sheets could also deter you from jumping back into bed to catch a short nap. It’s tempting, we know. The best part about making your bed is that you can look forward to a tidy and organised room in the evening. There is no unsightly mess that could potentially distract you. You can concentrate better on tasks such as doing your homework or revising the content that was taught in class. Making your bed is a small but effective change which you can make to increase your productivity.
5. Freshen yourself up by washing your face and brushing your teeth
Washing your face and brushing your teeth should already be part of your morning routine. We’ve included this habit so that you can set aside some time for these personal care activities when planning your morning out.
Washing your face doesn’t just freshen you up for a brand new day. It removes excess oils and impurities that are found on the surface of your skin. Similarly, brushing your teeth helps you to get rid of any bacteria that may have developed overnight. To some extent, these two good habits can also make you feel more confident about yourself.
And if you have time to spare in the morning, get a shower – cold or warm, it’s up to you!
6. Get dressed for the day, as early as possible
Again, you might be wondering why we have included this in the list. Similar to making your bed every morning, putting on a fresh set of clothes could probably stop you from going back to bed. After all, you wouldn’t want to be seen wearing a crumpled shirt or a pair of creased pants.
Getting dressed for the day also has a psychological effect. It lets your brain know that it is time to get down to work. That’s why some people who work from home make it a habit to change into working clothes at the start of the day. They say that changing from sleepwear to streetwear can help you to quickly get into a productive state of mind. We suggest getting dressed as early as you can – perhaps before you dig into breakfast.
7. Drink a glass of water and get hydrated
When you are sleeping at night, your body continues to use water for various functions. For example, our brain needs water to consolidate the information that we have learnt during the day. By the time you wake up in the morning, your body would have become somewhat dehydrated. Drinking a full glass of water at the start of the day prepares your body physically and mentally for your day-to-day activities. And if you are participating in high-intensity physical activities that day, make it a point to drink even more water.
For those who would like to have some flavour in their drinks, there are always other options such as tea, hot chocolate or milk. We recommend staying away from sugary beverages that usually give you a temporary burst of energy. These can make you feel tired easily later in the day. Alternatively, hydrate yourself by drinking some freshly squeezed fruit juice. Fruits are usually packed with generous amounts of essential nutrients and vitamins. Or make yourself a smoothie every once in a while.
8. Eat breakfast at the dining table and spend some family time together
Eating breakfast at the dining table is a good way to start the day, even if you are doing it for only a few minutes. Choose healthier foods such as porridge or eggs, and avoid foods that are coated with generous amounts of sugar. Make it a habit to have breakfast together as a family. Talk about the things you are doing at work or what you are learning in school. Breakfast serves as a good time for family members to catch up with one another.
When you are done with breakfast, spend a few minutes to wash up any cutlery and dishes which you have used. Rinse the spreader that was used to lather your slice of bread with lots of butter. Every now and then, take the initiative to prepare breakfast for your family members. That makes it easier for everyone to enjoy a homemade meal, instead of having to grab something along the way.
9. Take a ten-minute brisk walk and breathe in some fresh air
There is no doubt that exercise helps a person to stay fit and healthy. But in an increasingly fast-paced society, many people feel that they are running short of time when it comes to exercise. However, exercise is not necessarily limited to intense physical activities such as badminton or rock climbing. It could be as simple as taking a ten-minute brisk walk and breathing in some fresh air from outside. You could even take your pet (if you have one) along for the morning walk.
With so many different places in your neighbourhood, you can try a different route every morning. At the same time, you could do some light exercises to boost your physical and mental performance. Do a few jumping jacks to get your blood pumping. Or do some stretching to relieve the tension in your muscles.
10. Go through your schedule for the day
Mornings are usually the best time for you to contemplate about things. Before you start your day, spend some time to go through your schedule or to-do list. Think about what you would be doing at different times of the day. Don’t forget to include any activities that you have planned for after school hours or in the evenings.
This gives you a clearer picture of how your day would be like, and what to expect. When you do this in a systematic manner, you can be sure that you do not miss or arrive late for an appointment. If your schedule is too packed, you’re still in good time to shift your activities and appointments around. There is still a bit of leeway for you to make adjustments to your to-do list.
Furthermore, you can make better and more informed decisions when your mind is still fresh and clutter-free in the morning. But there isn’t much time before thoughts start to cross your mind and people start to grab your attention. Make good use of the first hour each day to organise yourself and your time.
11. Read a book during your morning commute
When you travel to school or work by public transport, you’ll get the chance to catch up on some reading. You can read a book on public transport without too much of a hassle, regardless of whether you are standing or sitting down. But many students are not finding enough time to read due to their busy schedules. The morning commute provides a good opportunity to do so.
Reading opens your mind and broadens your perspectives. Fiction books can expand your creativity and help you to write better, while non-fiction books can add to your repository of knowledge. And if it is examination season, why not revise on the go by pulling out one of our pocket-sized study guides?
It’s time to start building some of these good habits
It’s time for you to incorporate some of these habits into your morning routine to make it more productive than before. Feel free to mix and match to create your desirable morning. Always remember that habits take lots of time and effort to build, so don’t give up too early or easily.
You can also draw inspiration from some of the successful people around you. What kind of morning habits have they developed over the years? This gives you a good starting point to work with. Nevertheless, different people have different ways to start the day on a perfect note. And that is why you should always take ownership and handcraft a morning routine that works best for you.