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As someone who spends much of my time researching, writing, and talking about how to be a productive high-achiever, a topic I come across quite frequently is the art of a morning routine. They’re everywhere.

Some of the greatest innovators in the world have them, my mentors have them, and even my friends and the guests I host on my podcast have them.

In our Tiny Leaps community we’ve been doing a lot of reflecting about the adjustments we want to make to better our lives, which sparked the creation of my recent goal-setting guide to help these goals stick.

This all has me thinking, should I have a morning routine too?

The more time I spend attempting to increase my productivity, the more I realize that creating healthy habits is a major secret to success. In particular, creating a reliable morning routine — one that eliminates major decision-making first thing in the morning — is a powerful thing for winning the day.

It limits procrastination

I don’t know about you, but to me there’s no worse sensation in the morning than feeling rushed. Yet that feeling is all too familiar.

Maybe I press “snooze” too often and barely have the time to shower before running out the door to get to work. Maybe I underestimate how much time it takes to make myself breakfast, or throw together something for lunch. Maybe I don’t complete the last bit of a project for my boss, and wake up early the day it’s due to finish it, only to realize that I didn’t allot myself enough time.

I’ve been guilty of all these things at some point during my adult life, and I’m the first to admit that none are conducive to creating healthy morning habits. And although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was setting myself up for failure.

For one, continually pressing “snooze,” as nice as it may feel to savor an extra 10, 20, or 30 minutes of sleep, is unhealthy (and unproductive) in more ways than one.

Not only does it throw off your internal clock when you don’t wake up at the same time every day, but constantly snoozing is also a form of procrastination. Choosing to postpone your wake time is practically procrastinating before you even get out of bed.

Additionally, pushing things off until the morning that could be done the night before can be stress-inducing, and ultimately causes barriers to more important things you might want to do right after waking.

Creating reliable habits centered around waking up can start the day on a much more productive foot, and can help to eliminate the feeling of procrastination that creeps into our days much more than we’d like.

It helps minimize overwhelm and anxiety

Over the last few months, I’ve been perfecting my own personal productivity system in an effort to manage my ever-growing workload more effectively. In doing so, I’ve realized that how I start my day plays a big role in the output I’m able to produce.

On the days in which I wake up at a planned time and have the space to ease into the day without rushing, thus eliminating feelings of stress first thing in the morning, I find that I have a much easier time diving into my to-do list. I’m actually even able to knock out tasks more quickly than usual, because I feel compelled to continue that feeling of accomplishment — of small wins.

We all lead busy lives, and that most likely isn’t going to change anytime soon. Especially when pursuing full-time entrepreneurship, maximizing side hustles, and starting new creative projects. Since our to-do lists grow and grow, learning to adapt and eliminate overwhelm is vital to continual productivity.

And in these last few months, I’ve learned that establishing a healthy morning routine a key way to eliminate the overwhelm, stress, and anxiety we often feel from our growing to-do lists.

It eliminates major decision-making, which is more important than you’d think

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, when beginning your day, it’s extremely important to avoid “decision fatigue” — or what happens when agonizing over making a decision becomes mentally exhausting.

Should I get out of bed when my alarm goes off, or should I sleep in? Should I make breakfast at home, or should I stop at a café on my way to work? Should I leave 15 minutes earlier to account for traffic? Should I pop in to a grocery store and grab something for my lunch later, or should I just grab lunch on my break?

These kinds of thoughts might sound simple, but flooding your brain with unknowns every morning can lead to unnecessary worry and mental exhaustion that could be entirely eliminated with a reliable routine.

Getting decision fatigue first thing in the morning, when you have no routine to rely on, can be a huge detriment to your entire day, inhibiting your productivity and increasing your feelings of overwhelm.

But establishing a stable routine that you don’t have to think twice about makes your morning significantly simpler, creating more room in your brain to think about those other decisions you’ll be making all day long.

Establishing a routine of my own

The idea of establishing my own morning routine is exciting, and something I’d certainly like to pursue. It would require me to take an audit of myself, acknowledge the habits that work best for me, and note the areas of my life that could benefit from more stability.

Ultimately, I think would lead to more tiny wins. Looking ahead to 2018, I can see this being a top actionable goal I set for myself.

Here’s to the power of morning routine!

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