Answer by Nela Canovic, writer, productivity hacker, and entrepreneur:
Keep it simple, make it fun, and back it up with a nighttime routine that's easy to follow!
Here are 10 quick and easy tips for starting your day with more energy: 7 to practice in the morning and 3 to practice at night.
First: Tips to practice in the morning.
Tip #1. Make it super simple by waking up just 15 minutes earlier. What? Why should you wake up earlier if you're already having problems waking up as it is? The biggest benefit is to give yourself a little extra buffer of time to adjust to the day. It's not that hard to do. If you usually wake up at 7 a.m., set your morning alarm to 6:45. Keep this schedule for one week. If that works and you're feeling good about it, the following week set your alarm to another 15 minutes earlier, this time for 6:30 a.m. There's a lot you can do in that extra half hour you have, so why not use it?
Tip #2. Customize your alarm to boost energy and focus. Create an alarm that is right for you. Pick a ring tone that's unusual but not irritating, or set your alarm to vibrate mode for a more subtle sound. Make a recording of your own voice saying a positive message, then save it as your alarm tone. Queue up some music that you find uplifting and energizing, and schedule it to play when you need to wake up.
Tip #3. Set a calm tone to the day with meditation. Researchers say that when we meditate early, we sleep better at night. Meditating can also help you deal better with the all those random thoughts that occupy you throughout the day (including anything that stresses you out as soon as you open your eyes) and that may contribute to your feeling rushed and overwhelmed. To get started, download the Headspace app and practice for 10 minutes; it's easy and even fun for absolute beginners.
Tip #4. Prep your workspace. Before starting your day, make sure you have everything ready for the work you'll need to complete. This applies to your computer, books, reference materials (bookmark them in your browser or write notes that you'll have handy on your desk), your daily plan (a checklist of tasks you need to complete), a bottle of water at your desk, an energy snack (a power bar, banana, or a fruit and nut mix).
Tip #5. Do a super short workout. Pick a super short and targeted workout to help your body wake up and prepare for the day ahead. The benefit? You're more likely to keep the habit if it's something more manageable (as opposed to promising yourself you'll hit the gym for two hours in the afternoon, which is harder to do). Here are some ideas for a 10-15 minute wake-up session: a morning yoga routine, a 15 minute bootcamp session, or a set of sun salutation poses.
Tip #6. Eat some brain food. Don't work on an empty stomach. Have a small breakfast that will fill you up, give you energy, and improve your brain's cognitive function. Here are 3 breakfast ideas:
- Oatmeal mixed with 1 tablespoon flaxseeds, 1 teaspoon peanut butter, sliced banana or other fresh fruit, and some walnuts or almonds on top. Flaxseeds are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a healthy fat that boosts cerebral cortex function.
- A parfait that consists of layering 1/2 cup of yogurt, 1 tablespoon granola, 1 cup fresh fruit (sliced or diced), and a spoonful of nuts such as walnuts and almonds. Almonds are beneficial for increased attention and awareness necessary for learning, as well as restoring memory and cognitive function.
- An egg or two. Eggs are a powerful mix of B vitamins (they help nerve cells to burn glucose), antioxidants (they protect neurons against damage), and omega-3 fatty acids (they keep nerve cells functioning at optimal speed). Cook, scramble, or make them into an omelette with some spinach and mushrooms.
Tip #7. Become the master of your time. When you're ready to start working, use a timer to divide up your work into manageable increments to allow your brain to focus in a more targeted and effective way. Try the Pomodoro technique, which consists of 25-minute blocks of time followed by 5-minute breaks. When you're done with one segment, step away from your desk and give your brain a chance to rest: go outside for a short walk, grab a cup of coffee or tea, have a snack to increase your energy levels.
Next: Tips to practice at night.
Tip #8. Set a bedtime alarm on your phone to go off 30 minutes before you need to sleep, which will signal to you that you need to finish up any activities you're working on. Be sure to have a bedtime alarm go off every day of the week, including weekends.
Tip #9. Get away from electronics (such as your computer and TV) in the hour before bedtime. Instead, listen to a podcast on a topic you find interesting, queue up some relaxing music and listen with your eyes closed as you're sitting on the couch, or read a book to stimulate your imagination.
Tip #10. Have a cup of herbal tea (with no caffeine), some warm milk with honey, or a magnesium supplement (either tablet or powder form) around the time your alarm goes off. These warm drinks can help you feel sleepy and more relaxed.