As the father of 2 young kids who sleep as much as most start-up founders, my morning routine is pretty weak.
That being said, most days after dodging dinosaurs and spending a few minutes picking Oatmeal out of my hair, I usually feel pretty good.
A T-Rex-sized reason for this is because I’ve stopped beating myself up for not being as productive in the mornings as some of my more well-oiled self-help counterparts. Instead, I’ve focused on eliminating a few habits that weren’t doing me any good.
Sometimes, not always, the best way to add value to your life is by looking for things you can subtract.
If you too want to kick the day off on the right foot but don’t have as much time as you’d like — or a desire to beat the roosters — consider kicking these 5 bad habits to the curb.
1. Hitting snooze
Here’s a little trick I learned from the founder of App Sumo, Noah Kagan — before going to bed, think about something small that you can’t wait to do in the morning.
For Noah, it’s eating breakfast food. If he had his way, in addition to taco’s, he’d eat some form of breakfast food for every meal.
For me, I love my wife and kids (as well as all things syrup). But I also love that 10 minutes or so each morning where there is complete silence in the house and I can sit on my sofa or stand on my terrace and do absolutely nothing at all but wake up slowly.
It’s hard to greet the day with a smile on your face if you feel like you’re already running late. So before going to bed each night find a “Why” for why you shouldn’t hit snooze and visualize yourself enjoying whatever you choose the night before.
It doesn’t have to be anything big.
As Noah demonstrated, pancakes are delicious.
2. Looking at social media
I stopped using excel when I quit my corporate job a decade ago so I don’t have the data on this. But I’d be willing to bet that the divorce rates would fall just as quickly as my stocks are right now if people grabbed their partner first thing in the morning instead of their phone.
Scrolling through Instagram to see other people live their best lives when in an hour you have to see your boss’s face on Zoom is not a good life strategy. Neither is sending an email to people who are probably still in bed.
One lesson that has taken me entirely too long to learn is that you can’t improve your life if you aren’t taking the time to admire all the beautiful things around you.
So keep your phone out of sight in the mornings and make your own memories instead of looking at someone else’s best moments.
3. Thinking about your to-do list
There are few worse feelings than waking up in the morning and looking at your family only to have your thoughts consumed with all the things you have to do during the day.
Take a moment. Breath. Again, steal a line from Noah and focus on some things you are looking forward to doing.
Or better yet, take a page out of Viktor Frankl’s book — “Man’s Search for Meaning”— and ask yourself what the people around you are doing and think about ways to help them.
Most people see after work as their time to be with family and friends. But what about the hour or two before we have in the mornings?
Why not involve a little fun human contact?
Why not play?
Tinker with ways to connect with either yourself or the people you care about in the morning that doesn’t involve an internet connection.
When you’re old and grey, you won’t be thinking about your to-do list. But rather all the things you wish you had done with your family and friends and that includes all those mornings you choose to think about work.
4. Arguing with your boss in the shower
I asked my wife why she made the 10-minute walk to the bus stop across town each morning when there are is stop 2-minutes away from our house and her response stopped me cold — “Getting some air and moving my body helps me to silence the imaginary arguments I have with my boss in my head in the morning.”
If you too are like my wife and me and at times find yourself having fights with Nancy from Accounts Payable shortly after waking up, focus on finding just one release to take the power away from these voices.
Maybe it involves asking your partner to watch the kids for 5 minutes in the morning so you can simply sit in silence.
Maybe it’s doing something to get your body moving like my wife.
Or maybe it’s taking a 10-minute bath instead of a shower or taking a few minutes to write down your fears in a journal.
It can be extremely liberating to cruise back over your entries that evening to see that many of the things you worried about only existed in your head.
5. Watching the news
The whole point of the mornings is to get yourself in the right mindset to face the day with a smile on your face.
After all, productivity grows when positive energy flows.
The news, not only right now, but 99 percent of the time is the opposite of positive.
This doesn’t mean you should block yourself off entirely from what is happening in the world. Quite the contrary. You can’t change the world if you don’t know what is happening in it.
But you can be more conscious of when you decide to consume it. For me, catching up on world events is a good source of inspiration for the gym or when I want to write and need to get some emotions flowing.
One of the fastest ways to not feel like shit in the morning is by making the choice to not step in it.
Focus on what lights you up. If you can’t break your need for technology, listen to some music.
Few things have brought more joy into my life than when my kids come up the stairs in the morning and say, “Hey Google, can you play, ‘I’m Sexy and I Know It,’ please?
It serves as a reminder that it’s just as much fun to dance when the sun is coming up as it is when it’s going down.
So there you have it, 5 things you shouldn’t do in the morning to help you kick your day off with a smile.
My guess is you’ve heard these things before.
But like my dad always says, “Sometimes reminders are more effective than wasting your time looking for new ingredients.”
This article originally appeared on Medium.
Michael Thompson is a career coach who works with business professionals to open more doors and receive greater satisfaction from their work. His career and communication advice can be found in places like Business Insider and Fast Company. He writes to meet people so feel free to say hi here.