I used to be a heavy sleeper who loved waking up at 10 am or even later. And on days when I had to go to school or college, I would wake up groggily every single day and would mark my presence there “always late”.
No wonder, I was never able to do any productive work and was always tired. I wanted to change my life badly and that’s when I decided to “do the work” rather than just reading personal development books cover to cover.
I hoped to become a morning person for years. Though I failed so many times and struggled to make it a habit, I quickly realized how the days on which I woke up early and my morning routines drastically affected my energy.
On those days I felt happier, more productive and ready to take on the world.
Though I am getting better at installing these wonderful habits each year, I noticed some bad habits still stand in my way (and probably yours too) preventing me from reaping the full benefits of the precious early morning time.
And even though if you do your meditation and exercise in the morning, giving in to these toxic habits greatly affects your focus and productivity.
So, let’s see what are those poor morning habits that you should get rid of to maximize your productivity.
Note: In fact, the list of morning habits, success habits, good habits, bad habits, etc. are talked about so much these days that I wonder if our minds are getting trained to avoid these listicles. “There goes another list of habits that I should have”, you might think.
But I insist you take a look at what you need to work on and form daily consistent habits. You don’t need all the habits in a list, but choose the ones that you know will greatly impact your life over the years.
Remember, all good habits will give you results, but only if you stick with them.
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10 bad morning habits to quit to start your day right
1. Hitting the snooze button
Hitting the snooze button deserves the first place in this list because that’s what most of us do first thing in the morning.
Mel Robbins, author, and motivational speaker says that hitting the snooze button kills at least 4 hours of productivity in your day.
And there is science behind it.
Human beings sleep in cycles of about 90 minutes. When you hit the snooze button to get 5 more minutes of sleep, your brain gets the signal to start another sleep cycle.
But you get woken up immediately by the alarm again only to cause “sleep inertia”. Sleep inertia is the grogginess you experience after waking up. Though sleep inertia usually lasts for 15-30 minutes, it can last up to 4 hours.
When you start your day in this state, you feel tired and feel like going back to sleep even though you have slept for a solid 7-8 hours.
Sleep inertia can also happen if you were woken up during the REM sleep. In an ideal world, you would be going to sleep at the right time and wake up naturally without an alarm clock feeling fresh and alert.
But our world is not ideal and we “need” to wake up at a particular time even if we have slept enough or not.
That’s another point. If you want to wake up energized, make sure you go to bed at the right time. And get an alarm clock that wakes you up towards the end of a sleep cycle so as to reduce sleep inertia. Or alternatively, you can use this app on your phone.
2. Checking your phone
For most of us, the smartphone has replaced the traditional alarm clock. So, the first thing we do in the morning is grabbing the phone to switch off the ringing alarm. And it’s tempting to go back to bed with the device and start checking your messages and notifications.
What’s the first app you check?
Maybe it’s a social media app or if you are an online business owner it can be tempting to check your emails, Instagram, Analytics, etc.
By doing this you are not giving a chance for your brain to slowly wake up. You are immediately bombarded with emails and messages that make you feel overwhelmed and stressed.
I had the bad habit of checking my website analytics immediately after waking up. And when I realized the ups and downs on the graph in analytics had the power to change my mood, I stopped the habit.
Our brains should be given the time to wake up to the day slowly. Feeding it with all sorts of information can be de-energizing. Also, social media is a rabbit hole in which you can fall and waste hours before you know it.
A study shows that 4 out of 5 smartphone users grab their phones within 15 minutes of waking up. The rate at which the constant need to be distracted and connected grows is alarming.
Most of us check our smartphones every hour anyway, so let’s declare at least the mornings to be distraction-free. And create a morning routine that will help you focus on clearing your mind and energizing your body.
3. Not planning the day
Not everyone uses a planner or would like to use one. Nevertheless, you must have a plan for your day to avoid overwhelm and to make sure you get the most important tasks done.
If you don’t have plans for the day, you fall into the trap of procrastination and indecision. You know you should be doing “something” but can’t decide which task to do first.
What I hate about not planning my day is, I waste so much time thinking about my to-do list and half of my morning will be lost. It is a proven fact that we only have limited focus and will power in a given day.
Draining that precious energy by being indecisive is a bad idea. Therefore, to maximize your productivity, plan your day the night before or immediately after getting up.
I plan my days in my bullet journal. I list all the tasks for the day including writing and other household chores.
4. Not doing mindset work
We all have certain limiting beliefs and mental blocks that hold us back from reaching our highest potential. I know you wouldn’t be reading this blog if you were not interested in improving yourself. That’s a great thing.
You are meant to do so much on this earth and you have a great purpose. But upon growing up, consciously or unconsciously you developed so many mental blocks and lack of belief in yourself that keeps pushing you back.
Therefore, it is necessary to work on them if you want to enjoy success the way you want to. Mornings are my favorite time to work on my personal development.
I don’t know what your limiting beliefs are so I can’t talk about how to work on them. But here are some actionable tips to include in the morning routine.
- Find out what holds you back and read success stories about people who have overcome them.
- Read personal development books, listen to motivational podcasts and watch inspiring Youtube videos
- Meditation works on so many levels and it is a must-do if you want to be the master of your mind and not its slave
- Create affirmations to ward off the limiting beliefs and gain confidence by saying them aloud daily
- Read your goals and visualize it daily to motivate yourself and to stay on track
Usually, I do a combination of all these activities as part of my morning routine.
Why choose mornings?
Because when you start your day having done the mindset work, it helps you to energize yourself and you feel ready to take on the day. You will be able to do difficult tasks despite the mental blocks.
Do you think you have no time in the morning?
Getting up at least 30 minutes earlier can get you the time to work on your mindset. And you don’t need to spend hours on it. Choose to do each activity for only 5-10 minutes. Or choose to do two activities per day and the next ones on the next day.
I bet you can trade the time you spend on a smartphone for this. Because it is more impactful and will transform your life over the coming months.
5. Not nourishing your body
Saying that you don’t have time to improve your thoughts and your life is like saying you don’t have time to stop for gas because you are too busy driving. Eventually, it will catch up with you -Robin Sharma
Isn’t it right? If you keep going on and on taking your health for granted, you will have to make time for disease.
Though it’s not a sin to eat junk food once in a while, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a must if you want to enjoy the benefits of optimal living.
Here are some morning routines you can develop to ensure a healthy start to your day:
Another common toxic habit to avoid in the morning is not to eat packaged food items. Cereals are not healthy as they are claimed to be and are usually high in sugar and contain refined grains. It causes a spike in your sugar levels and gives a quick energy boost. But it is followed by a crash in sugar levels and therefore your energy crashes too. Excessive sugar consumption can also lead to many other diseases including type-2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc.
As a thumb of rule, try to avoid food items that come in a box and have added preservatives.
Eat whole foods and include more veggies and fruits in your diet throughout the day. If you think you don’t have time to prepare healthy meals every day, try meal planning and prepping for a week on a Sunday. Here is an article I wrote on meal planning for beginners. It’s written for busy moms, but anyone can follow it.
6. Consuming negative content
You might think you’re not consuming any negative content in the morning. But if you are reading newspapers, you are doing it. I don’t know why newspapers do their business by focusing more on spreading negative news.
I was able to reduce a lot of anxiety when I stopped reading a newspaper in the morning. I am a highly sensitive empath and consuming the negative news made a big impact on my energy levels.
There is so much positivity in the world, but they just don’t report it often. And I don’t want to train my mind to think negatively about everything in life. Why inject a lot of fear in our minds when we are already trying hard to fight our fears?
If consuming news is absolutely important for your business or if you want to stay updated with your interests, today there are options to do that by skipping the negativity.
Like online sports/business news apps, podcasts, websites, etc. But make sure you don’t get lost in there.
7. Not decluttering
Clutter affects your productivity and mood. When you get up in the morning, take your time to make your bedroom and surroundings tidy and clean. Make your bed, put everything back in its place, and keep the flat surfaces clean.
It sets the tone for a good day. The time I invest in quick decluttering around my workspace and the house serves me well. I am more focused and my mind is clear.
And the thing is it takes only a couple of minutes to do and you are good to go. Here is a useful article on daily decluttering habits that will help your home always tidy.
8. Drinking coffee first thing in the morning
If you depend on too much caffeine to stay awake, hear this out. Drinking moderate amounts of coffee is said to be good for your health. But if you start your day with coffee, you are doing it all wrong.
Instead of coffee, start your day with a tall glass of water.
Your body needs to be hydrated first thing in the morning because it has been fasting all night.
Coffee is a diuretic, meaning it promotes the formation of urine by the kidney. So it tends to cause more dehydration in the body. And also, coffee is acidic. Drinking coffee first thing in the morning makes your stomach produce more hydrochloric acid. And for people with stomach issues like acid reflux, IBS, etc. it does more harm than good.
Also, drinking plain water or lime water first thing in the morning has been proven to give excellent results for your health. It helps to eliminate toxins from the body and improves your immunity system.
There’s nothing wrong with drinking your daily cup of coffee, but make sure you give your body the chance to get properly hydrated after waking up before reaching for the coffee. And make sure you drink lots of water after having your cuppa because of its diuretic properties.
9. Not preparing for the early morning rush
Do you often start your day in indecision and rushing through the chores so that you can get out the door in time? Or do you have to yell at your kids because they can’t find their things to get ready for school?
I have been there and it’s a terrible way to start your day. You begin your day by being angry and much of your precious energy is wasted in the morning itself.
You might not be an organized person. But you can do the following things to start your day peacefully.
- Once in a week, keep all your work clothes ironed, and hang or keep them separately in a drawer so that you can choose the outfit of the day easily in the morning. Or you can decide the night before what you would be wearing the next day.
- Before going to sleep, make sure your kids’ uniforms and other accessories are in place to get ready without a hassle. Also, make sure they have kept their books and other assignments in the backpack.
- Meal planning is a lifesaver if you want to not get tired by thinking. You can meal plan for a week or a month in advance. It helps you to not worry about what to make for breakfast for the family and for kids’ school snacks. It also helps you to stock your pantry in advance so that you do not panic in the morning because you don’t have the right ingredients.
Always start your day on a positive note. You have lots of things to complain and be sad about. But don’t be the person who reminds yourself and others about life’s problems in the morning.
That’s why I am against reading newspapers in the morning. Because the media likes to focus more on the negativity and you will find yourself complaining about the government and fellow human beings whose wrong acts make you furious.
Start your day with gratitude. It’s human nature to be worried about the bills, the pending projects and all the other challenges you have to tackle during the day. But it’s a habit you can change simply by focusing on gratitude. It helps you to break the constant cycle of worrying and view things from a different perspective. Make sure you take a few minutes in the morning to be thankful about all the wonderful things you take for granted.
Trust me, it works and fills you with positive energy. Also, instead of complaining about things going wrong, visualize your ideal day where everything is working on your favor.
Because let’s face it. We know that most of the things we worry about do not happen anyway. It’s just that your mind likes to imagine the worst and exaggerate everything.
The good news is it’s a habit you can break. And that’s why I love my meditation practice in the morning. You can also break the worrying habit by practicing mindfulness.
11. doing unimportant tasks first
Many people procrastinate on difficult projects to the later part of the day because it’s uncomfortable. The result? It keeps nagging you until you get to it.
Brian Tracy in his book, “Eat that Frog” says,
If you have two important tasks before you, start with the biggest, hardest and most important task first.
If you want to maintain high levels of productivity day after day, get into the habit of doing the most difficult task first thing in the morning. It helps you to dive straight into the task without thinking much about it and get it done.
As a result, you get more things done in a week than most people do in a month.
Thus we come to the end of the list of morning habits to quit. What would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!
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