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How to be Productive in the Morning (Even If You're Not a Morning Person)

written by: •edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 7/9/2013

Some of us really aren’t morning people and tend to be more productive in afternoon or evening hours. Unfortunately, society doesn’t run that way. Learn some tips to becoming more productive in the morning.

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    Sleeping Person in Journey Wikimedia Commons Not being a morning person shouldn’t make you feel guilty. Those of us who prefer to slumber or rest in the morning don’t usually like to admit it, especially if we live with early morning people. We may tend to make excuses and even blame it on our heritage, “My mother and father always slept late!”

    Unfortunately, some of the jobs we hold don’t allow us to choose our favorite working hours. If you simply must learn how to be more productive and you’re not a morning person, you can use some of these top tips to turn those lazy morning hours into productive hours.

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    Fell More Awake in the Morning

    Each of these tips can be used in combination or if you’re a slow to change person, start with the simple stuff and work your way up.

    • Move the Alarm Clock – As a non-morning person myself, I find this to be very helpful. Instead of the ease of having the alarm yell at me right beside my slumber spot, I moved it so I have to get out of bed to turn it off. Think along the lines, “Well I’m up so I might as well stay up.” Never set your clock time back 15 minutes. This doesn’t help it only offers justification to stay in bed another 15 minutes.
    • Skip the Coffee – Really? Many caffeine addicts admit if they don’t keep drinking it all day, they lose that caffeine high. Nothing is worse than an energy bomb that needs to be revitalized through more indulgence. My sister-in-law who is a non-caffeine drinker is always up at dawn, follows an exercise routine, takes a walk or simply moves around to get the blood flowing. While I’m jealous of her, it really does work if you try it.
    • Eat Breakfast – Everyone has time for something healthy, even if it’s fruit and toast. Your body needs food to create brain-energy so don’t skip breakfast.
    • Take a Shower – Don’t you wish we all had those machines like the cartoon family the Jetsons? Boy that machine did it all and they just glided through it to obtain perfect hair and they were all dressed to go. Since that machine hasn’t been invented yet, take a shower and use a moderate water temperature. Too much hot water will only result in lower energy.
    • Start With the Small Stuff – If you want to turn your work pattern around, don’t do this by tackling your hardest chore first. You’ve already admitted you’re not a morning person so how well do you think that project will turn out? Wherever your workspace may be, start with checking and returning emails or other small tasks. Update your Facebook or LinkedIn page or Twitter away! Actually these small tasks are a great way to encourage you to be more productive—you’re doing something.
    • Leave the TV Off – What no news? That may be your first thought but instead of slumping in front of the television (you’re not awake anyway), grab your laptop or local newspaper and read it on the bus or subway. If you drive to work, listen to the news on the radio. You can always catch a favorite news show after work.
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    Becoming More Productive During the Day

    Sleeping Guinea Hog2 by Spinning Spark Wikimedia Commons Now that we’ve tackled the small baby steps, it’s time to move on to the real world.

    • Plan Your Day – Planning your day the night before with to-do lists is a great idea. People tend to follow lists better than go at it with no direction. Never make that to-do list overwhelming. If you do, you’ll never complete the entire list. Day plans are better than weekly plans for those of us who enjoy quiet mornings.
    • Leave Items for the Next Day – Even if your to-do list was short, if something doesn’t get done, put it on your plan for tomorrow. Make sure you do complete must do items on your plan and only leave small to moderate rated tasks for the next day.
    • Creative Office Space – No one wants to work in an office space that is drab, boring or doesn’t reflect the things you enjoy. Most offices will allow you to make your space uniquely you so go for it. You’ll enjoy being there more.
    • Avoid Negative Bob and Betty – We all run into these people at work. Bob hates his life and job and Betty’s sure the company will be closing down real soon. A negative co-worker’s attitude can turn you into a slug. Avoid people like this and if you must work alongside them, smile, laugh and be cheery, even if you have to work at it.
    • Learn a New Word – As a child, we all hated those on-the-spot teacher quizzes, “Take this new word and use it in a sentence!” As adults, it’s always good to keep a handy new word calendar at your workspace and do take the time to understand it and use it in a sentence. If you can, use it during the day in reports, emails, or conversation with co-workers. Try impressing the boss!
    • Take Breaks – Breaks should be spend doing something that relaxes and energizes you, not on office gossip or responding to a stressful email. You are entitled to breaks so take yours and relax, stretch, and rejuvenate. Try and actually eat something healthy on your lunch break instead of skipping lunch for a cookie or donut.
    • Don’t Sleep Too Much – When your winding down the day, the thought of hopping into bed may be your first thought. Too much sleep will make you sluggish so plan on 7 or 8 hours and no more.
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    Follow Your Plan

    Once you begin utilizing some of these ideas on how to be productive, keep your plan in place and follow it daily. As time goes on, you probably won’t realize you’ve changed into a productive morning person.

    Indulge and reward yourself on weekends if you can and relax. Ask for family or partner help with home chores and tasks. Never try and do it all alone when there’s someone there to help.

    Embrace the idea that you’re not a morning person but understand the difference between off times and productive times. It may take some small steps to learn how to be more productive but you can do it, one small step at a time.