If you want to remain focused, start your day with this

A new study released by a faculty member at the University of Wyoming highlights the importance of keeping to morning rituals to feed productivity levels the whole day.

Any sort of distraction from what you normally do when you wake up each morning could sidetrack you from daily tasks and hinder how much work you are able to get done.

According to research interrupting this routine in the AM can be more disastrous for energy reserves meant for completing projects more than lack of sleep, stress, and whether or not they were burnt out at the end of the workweek combined.

Shawn McClean, an assistant professor in the Department of Management and Marketing in the University of Wyoming College of Business, proves the aforementioned fact in the study he co-authored with colleagues at Texas A&M University in this release featured in Harvard Business Review.

“Because routines automate basic elements of daily life, they help conserve energy to dedicate toward achieving goals during the day. But when a routine is disrupted, what was previously automated requires conscious thought.” Sometimes getting that morning cup of coffee and jog in before sunrise can make or break the goals you set for the day.

The survey of American workers

In order to find out how much skipping our daily routine affected our work day, researchers conducted two surveys for a sample of working Americans employed at a large University in the United States. They asked 3 questions daily related to their morning routine for 3 weeks and found the following information to be true across the board for all participants in the study.

The first question was related to the extent that they stuck to a rigid wake-up routine such as starting the day by eating a healthy meal, getting a workout in, commuting to work, or meditating–whatever it takes to jump-start your day.

The second question asked participants to report how they felt as the day progressed. How was your mental energy, levels of calm, how engaged with your work were you, how much progress did you make towards reaching the goals you set for the day?

The last question Mclean and his cohorts asked was how they slept the night before, what their tension levels were, and what day of the week it was to account for burnout at the end of a long work week. All of these miscellaneous factors that could affect alertness the following day had less effect on workers being able to meet deadlines at the close of the workday, than skipping their usual morning habits.

Why holding on to a morning routine is helpful during this pandemic

The air of uncertainty is one thing the coronavirus crisis has enveloped the nation in. The good news is that sticking to a daily routine can help guide those who feel a little lost these days.

McClean adds the following, “Find something predictable around which to anchor the morning, such as waking up at the same time, taking the dog for a walk before having the first cup of coffee, or spending 20 minutes on meditation or yoga. This can provide a predictable foundation around which to structure the rest of the morning. However, it may not always be possible to avoid disruption to routines — indeed, COVID-19 seems to create novel disruptions daily. When that happens, it is critical to get back on track.”

I like to start my day with a fresh cup of coffee and my guided meditation app. Research shows the benefits of MBSR meditation each morning as far as being more productive goes. It also doesn’t hurt to snuggle with my kittens and look outside at the fall leaves before checking my emails. There are benefits to owning pets and being close to nature for those feeling isolated.

For those of you who struggle with creating a functional morning routine that maximizes productivity to be utilized during the workday check out this study here for tips on how to get started on the right foot as soon as you wake up. We don’t have much daylight these days so it’s important to really capitalize on those free morning hours to set yourself up for success.

The takeaway

It remains imperative we come up with a morning routine that serves our specific needs to get the most out of the hours we’re allotted in the day. With so many of us sharing space with our kids and other housemates, it might be a good idea to look into soundproofing or “professionalizing” space for designated workspaces to yield more productive work accomplishments. Having a boss who is mindful of the way in which constant checking in with employees–whether it be with excessive emails or phone calls– isn’t helping productivity, in fact, quite the opposite is true.
Trust that your employee can manage his or her own time effectively in a work from home environment and you’ll both be better off.