The way you start the day supports your mental performance and sets the tone for how the rest of the day is going to unfold, according to business advisor, speaker and best-selling author Chris Guerriero, who’s helped countless high achievers reach untapped levels of success and growth.
And in order to optimize your morning ritual for greater mental prowess, it’s important to understand the factors that make up mental performance first.
“Mental performance or cognitive performance relates to the brain’s ability to be effective and creative. It also directly relates to having clarity in everything you do. Attaining clarity is vital for success, and in my companies, we spend more time prioritizing clarity and cognitive performance than we do on any other individual task,” he says.
So it’s about feeling sharper. But it also pertains to productivity in general. “Mental performance plays a huge role in productivity and how we operate in the workplace. Our brains function better when they’re given a task or challenge, so adding a variety of stimuli can have positive benefits on how you work and show up for your team,” says Guerriero.
“This is why so many great business decisions are not made in the office or in the boardroom but rather on the golf course, in the gym, hiking, and other activities outside the workplace.”
Ready to intentionally design your mornings in a way that will enhance your mental performance at work and beyond? Do these three things every morning and watch your focus, energy and impact skyrocket.
1. Fuel your brain in different ways
The perfect brain-boosting morning routine should include several elements to flex your cognitive muscles in different yet complementary ways. From physical activity to hydration and from consuming stimulating content to meditation, you want to approach this holistically. Get your blood pumping and wake up your creativity.
“The first thing I do when I wake up is drinking a glass of water and work out because I know getting my blood flowing is going to prime my brain for my best mental performance throughout the rest of the day,” says Guerriero.
He also recommends going for a walk, reading thought-provoking books, listening to informative podcasts — or any other activity that sets the tone for a positive and productive day.
“These activities can prove to be beneficial and effective in increasing mental performance since they allow you to stimulate your brain each morning before starting the workday,” he says.
2. Avoid mind-numbing activities
While what you do in the morning can have a huge impact on mental performance, what you don’t do is equally important. Take inventory of your current morning habits and pay attention to mindless actions that you might not even realize you’re doing but that are causing more harm than good.
“What you do each morning sets the tone for how you approach the rest of your day. Activities such as watching stressful TV, checking your phone right when you wake up or checking email add stress, don’t allow you to adequately prepare your mind, and actually slow down progress and decrease performance,” says Guerriero.
So resist the temptation to connect to social networks right away and be mindful of your automatic reactions as soon as you open your eyes. Plus, this is the kind of change that you can immediately feel mental performance-wise after only a couple of days, which will motivate you to keep going.
3. Make a list of priorities
If your to-do list is endless and your schedule jam-packed with meetings, taking time in the morning to prioritize is crucial for your mind and performance.
“The first thing I do, and also advise my clients and employees to do, make a list of your top priorities for the day and the week. This will give you clarity on where you need to focus so you can be more productive and not lose mental energy being sidetracked by distractions,” says Guerriero.
Once you’ve reflected on priorities, it’s also important to be disciplined about following through and sticking to them. Yes, last-minute, time-sensitive things will happen and there will be moments when you will need to be flexible and adjust.
But learning to say no and avoid low-payoff activities that drain your energy is a skill that will keep your morning focus going as the day unfolds. And just imagine what a whole year of smart prioritizing can do for your success.