7 Tips for a More Productive Morning Routine at Home
Working from home definitely has its perks—no commute, a more flexible schedule, and greater productivity. But without the clear transitions to and from work, the line between work life and rest-of-life can get blurred. Work-from-home employees may fall into bad habits, like compulsively checking emails from bed first thing in the morning, which can lead to burnout. The solution? Keep work life and home life separate with a daily structure, including a morning routine.
Having trouble figuring out one that works for you? Here’s are a few ideas for building a morning routine that supports your wellbeing.
1. Start with gratitude and intention.
Before getting out of bed, take a moment to think of three reasons to be grateful. No act of gratitude is too small—maybe you are grateful to hear the birds chirping, or for the nice soft pillow you’re enjoying.
Follow that with a few deep breaths, bringing oxygen deep into your lungs, and set an intention for the day. Perhaps you want to foster a healthy body, be calmer around your kid or nail that work presentation. What’s today’s mission?
2. Hydrate Early
Drink at least two cups of water (16 ounces) first thing in the morning, advises productivity expert Chris Bailey, who says, “Water fires up your metabolism, hydrates you, helps your body flush out toxins, gives your brain fuel, and may even make you eat less.” Add a squeeze from a fresh lemon for a jolt of vitamin C and healthy plant compounds.
3. Tune in with Meditation
Build the deep breathing exercises into a regular meditation practice, which the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health also reports that meditation may help lower blood pressure, combat cognitive decline associated with the aging process and relieve anxiety and depression. Start with just 60 seconds per morning, observing your breath as you inhale and exhale. Gradually, you can work your way up to 10 minutes or more of meditation every morning.
Guided meditations are great for beginners, and there are literally thousands of meditation apps out there of all styles. But some people prefer to simply sit quietly, allowing their thoughts to drift by, and that’s cool too. Having a “sacred space” for meditation, such as a soft cushion by a window or by a glowing salt lamp, can help entice you to develop a daily meditation practice as well.
4. Espresso Yourself
Ah, coffee time. Not only does coffee boost energy, concentration, and athletic performance, it’s truly good for you. A study in the British Medical Journal states that the sweet spot for maximum health benefits is three to four cups a day, so feel free to enjoy a refill later. Your morning coffee may provide a quiet ritual where you relax before work, sitting out on the patio or reviewing your objectives before you lock in.
5. Get Moving
You’re hydrated, grounded and caffeinated. Now it’s time to get the bod moving. Why exercise in the morning? One of the main benefits is there’s less likely to be a conflict of schedules—few of us have an important phone call or Zoom meeting scheduled that early in the day, which also means there are fewer excuses to skip it.
Exercise also boosts endorphins, the hormones that help reduce stress and lower anxiety, which means whatever life throws at you the rest of the day will seem more manageable.
Working out before breakfast is also a bit of a life hack: It may actually burn more fat than exercising later in the day. Another study found that people who exercised early in the day (between 7 a.m. and noon) lost more weight than people who exercised later in the day (between 3 and 7 p.m.)—even when they were all doing the same amount and type of exercise. This may be because morning workouts lead to healthier decisions about snacks and meals later. Who wants to negate the glowy aftermath of a Pilates session or long run with an enormous cheese Danish?
6. Treat Yourself to a Steam Bath
After the workout, reward yourself with a 15- to 20-minute steam shower. A morning steam helps you relax, center and focus. And it “can aid recovery by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow to fatigued muscles,” as expert trainer Lauren Rippy discussed with MrSteam in“Fitting Steam Therapy Into Your Morning Wellness Routine.” This reduces pain from sore muscles and helps speed the recovery process.
Some people prefer, however, to use their residential steam shower prior to their morning workout, as a way to warm up muscles and connective tissues, and possibly improve lung function. For more on that technique, read about incorporating steam into in your warm-up to enhance fitness.
Lauren Rippy also brings up a good point about steam and the immune system. She explained, “Steam increases your core temperature, tricking the body into thinking it has an artificial ‘fever.’ As a result, white blood cell production is increased. These white blood cells are the primary agents of the immune system, and serve to keep us healthy.” So a regular morning steam may be just the ticket for maintaining a strong defense.
If you have an AromaSteam System, use it with energizing essential oils such as mint (crisp and refreshing); eucalyptus (cleansing and clarifying); or evergreen (brisk and fresh). Save the soothing botanical oils, like lavender, for bedtime. The SteamLinx system works with all MrSteam control panels, so you can preset your preferred temperature, scent, morning tunes (or meditation, or nature sounds), or color (ChromaTherapy).
Expert tip: Who needs to wrestle with an ironing board? Hang a shirt or dress in your steam shower for a few minutes and any wrinkles will fall right out.
7. Set up a Separate Workspace
If at all possible, designate a space for at-home work that is separate from the rest of your living space. Arrive at your “workplace” when your work day officially starts and with intention – don’t sit down early or increase your working hours because you saved time on commuting. Additionally, set the tone by wearing career clothes, not your PJs. Yes, you need to put on pants if you’re going to conquer the world, even when working from home.
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you don’t deserve basic desk requirements like an ergonomic chair or potted plant. Create a comfortable, efficient work zone that makes you feel creative and invigorated. Aromatherapy can come in handy here, too. Try grapefruit essential oil for clarity and energy, or sandalwood essential oil to promote grounding.
While you may walk from meeting to meeting in the office, be mindful too of how much you’re sitting while working from home. The average American adult sits at least half the day, or up to 15 hours, reports Forbes. To combat the sedentary nature of many work-from-home jobs, set an alarm for every half hour as a reminder to get up and move around. Do a few stretches, pushups, triceps dips on the edge of the bed or even throw in a load of laundry—the goal is simply to keep the blood flowing and the mind sharp.
At the end of the work day, “leave” work as you would if you were in the office. Shut the computer, clear off and stash work materials out of sight. Nothing invites burnout or work-guilt more than a stack of unfinished work staring at you into the evening.
Making it Stick
Once you have this powerful grounding morning routine in place, stick with it. We can all forget the old myth that a habit takes 21 days to form. According to research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it’s more like two months, or 66 days on average, for a behavior to become automatic. But trust us, once you feel this good in the morning, you won’t want to start the day in any other way.