6 Ways Productive People Fuel Their Morning Routines
Morning routines have taken on a sort of mythical quality in recent years. From waking up at 4 a.m. to taking cold showers, the things some people do to start their day off right might seem a tad unattainable for the rest of us.
So what’s the science behind the “perfect” way to start the day? Let’s look at the morning routines of productive people—and how you can make these habits work for you and your team.
1. Wake up at the time that works best for you.
Is there a “most productive” time to wake up? “The early bird gets the worm,” we’ve been told time and again. Plus, it’s trendy to talk about extreme early wake-up times for successful people like Apple CEO Tim Cook (who rises at 3:45 a.m.). But as it turns out, not everyone is genetically programmed to wake up at the crack of dawn.
One University of California study found that just 1 in 300 of its study participants had the genetic trait that enabled them to fall asleep before 8:30 p.m. and wake up before 5:30 a.m. naturally.
For the rest of us, we're more likely to fall somewhere in the middle. Dr. Michael Breus has identified four chronotypes and estimates that 55% of the population tend to wake up at 7 a.m. and fall asleep at 11 p.m., while the true "night owls" make up 15% of the population and are more apt to wake up at 9 a.m.
Our society is built largely around the typical 9-to-5 schedule, so for many people, employer schedules will dictate when they get up. But if you have any leeway at all, consider giving employees the flexibility to choose when to start and end at work; this will ensure they work during their most productive times.
While corporate hours are made for early risers, plenty of productive people are late risers, too. Grammy-award-winning musician and producer Pharrell Williams tells Fast Company that he doesn’t use an alarm clock and usually gets up around 9 a.m.What’s most important is to follow the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendation of getting at least seven hours of sleep each night (and, of course, ensuring you get up in time for work!).
2. Drink water upon waking.
By the time you wake up, you’ve gone 8+ hours without a drop to drink. Not to mention, you’ve also been losing moisture through breathing, sweating, and transepidermal water loss. It’s a good idea to rehydrate upon waking.
“By hydrating more, you're getting rid of bad bacteria in your system,” Dr. Maria Peña, an endocrinologist at Mount Sinai in New York, tells USA Today. “And it allows good bacteria in your gut to grow.” She also adds, “It's a way of cleaning out toxins in the system.”
Maybe that’s why celebrities hail drinking water as their best health tip. Actress Gabrielle Union guzzles 32 ounces with breakfast. In her health and fitness guide, The Body Book, actress Cameron Diaz writes: “Every night before I go to sleep, I fill up a big glass bottle with water and put it on my bathroom counter. First thing in the morning, right after I brush my teeth, I drink it. Once I drink the water in the bottle by my sink, I feel it immediately. I go from being a wilted plant to one that has just been rejuvenated by the rain.”
Replenishing your H2O stores in the morning is a healthy habit, but it’s also important to regularly do so throughout the day–especially while working. Keeping your favorite bottled water on your desk ensures you don’t get so focused on work that you forget to hydrate.
Don’t write water off as boring. With the dazzling array of bottled waters out there, you’re bound to find one that suits your taste. Acqua Panna is an Italian natural spring water that goes down smooth. And if you want a little something special, there's Perrier, the French mineral water with crisp carbonation. Of course, tap water is free and abundant! If the tap water where you are has a chlorine taste from the purification process in your region, you can always install a filter to make it taste better.
3. Eat a protein-packed, nutritious breakfast.
Food is fuel, so choose wisely when it comes to what you start the day with. Evidence shows that protein-rich breakfasts have many benefits, including lessening food cravings throughout the day and reducing unhealthy snacking.
Grabbing a hard-boiled egg before you head out the door is a convenient way to get protein for the morning. American model Chrissy Teigen knows the power of eggs for breakfast. She tells Delish, “I like a farmer's breakfast: two over-easy eggs, turkey bacon or pork sausage, sliced avocado, and grilled tomatoes.”
Some other nutritious breakfast options?
- Kodiak Cakes Flapjack Power Cup, Buttermilk & Maple - With 100% whole grain flour, these flapjacks are quick to make and packed with fiber and 10 grams of protein.
- Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cup - Not only does the oatmeal provide fiber, but this cup also has flaxseed and chia seed for extra Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Catalina Crunch Dark Chocolate Cereal - A zero-sugar cereal that actually tastes good? Yep, this dark chocolate cereal is made with lots of protein and fiber and sweetened with stevia extract and monk fruit extract.
The great thing about the above options is that they’re single-serve and packaged for quick heating. By stocking these healthy breakfast options in your office kitchen, you’ll make sure you or your employees can pop them in the microwave for a fast nutrition fix (at any time of day!).
4. If you skip breakfast, though, don’t worry!
What about those who prefer to skip breakfast? It doesn’t necessarily mean your day will be ruined. You know your body best.
"Eating throughout the day makes it easier for you to meet your needs," registered dietitian nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix tells Insider. "But if you prefer it and you know how to balance the rest of your day, there's no rule that you have to have breakfast."
World-renowned brain coach Jim Kwik likes to nourish his brain in the morning with tea. “My favorite tea is a combination of gotu kola, ginkgo, lion’s mane, MCT oil, and other gems," he writes on his website. "This concoction stimulates my brain and increases my focus throughout the day."
Inspired? Try this green tea with ginkgo to energize yourself in the morning.
5. Get some movement in, even if it’s a short walk.
If you want a truly productive day, begin by getting that blood flowing. Besides being good for your heart, exercise is good for your brain! The Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute found that people who did moderate-intensity exercise in the morning made better decisions throughout the day.
American entrepreneur Tim Ferriss starts the day with 5 to 10 reps of physical activity. “The 5 to 10 reps here are not a workout,” he writes on his blog. “They are intended to ‘state prime’ and wake me up. Getting into my body, even for 30 seconds, has a dramatic effect on my mood and quiets mental chatter. My preferred exercise is push-ups with ring turn out (RTO), as it nicely lights up the nervous system.”
Never underestimate the power of a walk. In fact, it’s the go-to morning routine of fitness star and personal trainer Kayla Itsines. According to Well+Good, Itsines doesn’t do her full workouts in the morning–she prefers to walk on a treadmill instead!
“There are many reasons to walk for exercise,” Ann Green, M.S., tells NBC News. “Walking improves fitness, cardiac health, alleviates depression and fatigue, improves mood, creates less stress on joints and reduces pain, can prevent weight gain, reduce risk for cancer and chronic disease, improve endurance, circulation, and posture, and the list goes on.”
This advice goes for any time of day. So as soon as you feel your focus fading and your neck aching, go for a 15-minute walk break before diving back into work.
6. Carve out time to mentally reattach to work.
Okay, so you’ve rehydrated, eaten a nutritious breakfast, and exercised. It’s time to dive into work now, right? Wrong! To optimize productivity, take a few minutes to “mentally reattach” to your work.
Researchers at Portland State University found that mentally reconnecting to work in the morning led to higher engagement and task accomplishment. To reattach, try things like reflecting on your goals for the day and making a to-do list.
“Reattachment to work refers to rebuilding a mental connection with work after a nonwork period … during which thoughts about work are being activated in preparation for the workday,” the study authors write. “It helps employees ‘tune into’ work, anticipate the upcoming workday, and mentally prepare for it.”
As part of her morning routine, "Shark Tank" investor Babara Corcoran groups the day's tasks by importance (she makes the list the night before). “A” tasks are must-do's, while “B” and “C” items are things to get around to after completing the “A” tasks.
“It keeps me productive on the things that matter,” she tells CNBC Make It. “And I mixed together in that list, the personal things and the business things.”
Master your morning routine and help productivity last throughout the day
From fueling your body with food and drink to fueling your mind by mentally preparing for work, what you do in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Of course, what good is it to power up your body in the morning but neglect it the rest of the day? Healthy snacking while at work can re-energize you, boost brain power, and help you slay your to-do list.
Keeping your workplace productive starts with the right f&b program to suit workers’ needs. Talk to the experts at Crafty to see how you can keep your people’s brains and bodies energized. Whether that’s through well-stocked pantries or in-office cafes, we’ve got a solution for you!