8 things to do first thing in the morning (for a better day)

Let me preface this by saying that I am most emphatically not a morning person. Sure, I can fake it with the best of them, but I’m not at my best anyplace close to the crack of dawn.

That said, I always try to find small ways to start my morning off a little differently in the hope that motivation, inspiration or sheer curiosity will better help me ease into the rest of the day.

If you’re searching for your own morning routine, try one (or more) of these first-thing each day.


A few years back I interviewed stress expert Amit Sood, M.D. from the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program and a lot of what he said really stuck with me. According to Sood, of the 100 events that surround us each day — four are bad and 96 are good.

He told me then that “we need to zoom out and focus on what is right in my life as opposed to what is wrong.” Try remembering what you love about your job — or your life — instead of the parts you really hate.

Rethink your elevator pitch

Maybe hitting people up with your entire work history, dreams and goals in the time it would take for a single elevator ride isn’t the best idea ever. According to a study by German company ThyssenKrupp Elevator, seven billion elevator rides happen each day, but people seemed to be missing an opportunity to interact and connect. The next time you see someone you’d like to connect with, tell them exactly that, instead of inundating them with too much information.

Drop someone a line

We all hear about the wisdom of sending a handwritten thank-you note after an interview, but there’s something equally amazing about randomly receiving handwritten notes.

For $20.00 a month Nicely Noted will send you three artisan-designed cards and pretty stamps to match every month. Take time out of your day to send a note to a former mentor, ex-work wife or someone who helped you with your career path.

Learn a new word

Sign up for an email list like Word Genius or WordSmith and find ways to augment your vocabulary. Bonus points if you actually use any of these in conversation.

Learn a new word … in another language

If signing up for even an online language course feels like too much effort, try a mini version instead. Pockettalk is a cool new palm-sized that allows you to speak into the device in the language of your choice, and hear the response in one of 74 different languages.

It’s great for when you’re traveling for business too.

Strike a pose

Some mornings you don’t have time for a full yoga or pilates class, but still, need that moment of pure concentration and mindfulness. If you can, try to shift your body into a single Sun Salutation or Downward Facing Dog, it will take you out of even the most stressful morning and help you get back on track. Or try a yoga deck that gives you a single post to start your day.

Talk to the hand (lettering)

Whether it’s writing a sign to warn others not to eat your lunch, or creating visual mantras to hang over your desk, try adding a personal touch. Lettering artist Shelly Kim’s new book Digital Hand Lettering and Modern Calligraphy teaches even newbies how to even use their new skills when writing on a tablet.

Save it for posterity

If you have stacks of invoices or photographs, take 5 minutes a day to get your digital life organized.  Fujitsu’s ScanSnap iX100 has a small, easy-to-use portable scanner that connects wirelessly to your phone and is small enough to fit into your top desk drawer. Give yourself a few minutes each morning to scan then shred that mountain of receipts or paperwork threatening to colonize your desk.

If you’re feeling a bit more industrious, you can go through old family photos and create a digital archive to share with your fam. Try Epson FastFoto which true to its name is a speedy way to scan stacks of pics that are fading fast.

Bonus points if you then tag your former work colleagues on #ThrowbackThursday and find fun new ways to reconnect.