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10 Super Productive Things To Do In The Morning

10 Super Productive Things To Do In The Morning

Starting the day with forward momentum is crucial if you build long-term success.

However, it’s not always clear where to focus your energy in the morning. That’s why in this article, we’re going to dive into a list of productive things to do in the morning that will optimize your body and mind for peak performance.

Not all morning habits are created equal, so my goal in this article is to guide you in the right direction by outlining the best morning habits you can adopt (backed by a combination of science + personal experience)


10 Productive Things To Do In The Morning

The following list will discuss productive morning habits that serve a variety of purposes — increasing energy, improving focus, boosting mood, etc.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed as you read through the behaviors on this list, just remember this: any form of positive action in the morning is a win.

Don’t let analysis paralysis prevent you from implementing any of these habits. Try starting with a few and then work in as many as you can as time goes on.

With that in mind, let’s talk about how to supercharge your day by discussing some of the most productive things to do in the morning!


#1: Get Sun Into Your Eyes

According to well-known Stanford neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, viewing sunlight for 2-10 minutes upon waking is absolutely vital for your physical and mental health.

Getting bright light into your eyes within the first hour of the day promotes the timed release of cortisol. Although cortisol is often negatively labeled as the “stress hormone,” it’s actually a crucial part of the wake-up process.

The early morning release of cortisol from viewing sunlight promotes focus and wakefulness throughout the entire day.

Furthermore, viewing morning sunlight triggers the release of dopamine — the neurotransmitter that’s responsible for motivation, mood, focus, attention, etc.

This increase in dopamine that comes from viewing morning sunlight makes it easier for you to crush the high-priority tasks that require your attention in the morning.

So if you’re looking for a simple but powerful routine that has a tremendous impact on your body and mind, start each day by looking into the sky for 2-10 minutes.


morning sun


#2: Take A Cold Shower

One of the most productive things to do in the morning is to expose yourself to cold water.

According to Andrew Huberman, cold water exposure triggers the release of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

For us mere mortals who aren’t neuroscientists, just know that these are the neurochemicals that keep us alert, focused, and motivated.

Here’s the really cool part  — we experience elevated levels of these neurochemicals for hours, not just a few minutes! Cold water exposure gives us a 2-3 hour period in the morning where our motivation, focus, and resilience are at peak levels.

Does it suck to start the day by standing in freezing cold water? Absolutely, but the productivity benefits that you experience make the suffering well worth it.

So if you typically start the day sluggish and unmotivated, then 1-3 minutes of cold water exposure should fix that really quickly.


#3: Wait 90-120 Minutes To Ingest Caffeine

Many people believe that consuming caffeine is one of the most productive things to do in the morning.

And while that’s absolutely true given how caffeine affects the brain, there’s a right and wrong way to go about it.

Caffeine energizes us because it blocks our ability to absorb the molecule adenosine — the molecule that causes you to feel tired and drowsy.

When we wake up, we still have some adenosine in our system. So naturally, our body starts releasing cortisol to clear out the remaining adenosine.

The problem with drinking caffeine right after you wake up is that the adenosine remains in your system. So while you may experience an energy boost, the caffeine disrupts this natural process of your body clearing out adenosine.

Now you’re probably asking yourself, what’s the big deal? I need my morning coffee!

Well, having caffeine too early leads to the dreaded afternoon crash. Because as the day progresses, your body releases adenosine until you go to bed.

Once the morning caffeine wears off, you get hit with a double whammy — the sleepy chemicals that you didn’t clear out in the morning + the sleepy chemicals that your body naturally releases.

Luckily, there’s a simple way to avoid the afternoon crash. All you need to do is delay ingesting caffeine until 90-120 minutes after waking.

This will give your body time to clear the remaining adenosine left in your system. And when the afternoon comes, you’ll be far less likely to hit the afternoon wall that morning coffee drinkers typically experience.




#4: 90 Minute Deep Work Session

There’s no shortage of productive things to do upon waking. However, one of the most impactful habits you can adopt in the morning is deep work.

Deep work is defined by a period of intense concentration on a specific task without engaging in any kind of distracting behavior.

Deep work is about being fully present in the task at hand. That means no checking emails, no scrolling social media, and no switching between tasks.

In a world of decreasing attention spans, the ability to focus on one thing for an extended period of time is paramount.

In his book titled Deep Work: Rules For Success In A Distracted World, Cal Newport lays out how important this skill is by saying:

“The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at the exact same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.”

So if you want to separate yourself from the pack and become an elite level producer, try adopting this framework for implementing deep work:

  • Step #1: Pick your most cognitively demanding task and make it the focus of your deep work session.
  • Step #2: Remove all distractions from your environment. Turn off your phone. Close out irrelevant tabs. Clear your workspace. Then get to work.
  • Step #3: Set a timer for 90 minutes on your computer. DO NOT use your phone as a timer, it should remain off.
  • Step #4: Work diligently on your chosen task for 90 minutes. If you feel your mind getting distracted, just accept your thoughts and then direct your attention back to the task at hand. (you’re going to have distracting thoughts, so the best you can do is accept them and move on).

If you can start each day with 90 minutes of intense concentration on challenging work, you’ll put yourself lightyears ahead of the competition.


man writing down productive things to do in the morning


#5: Meditate

Meditation is one of the most productive things to do in the morning, especially if you’re someone who struggles to be present.

Most of us start the day in a state of reactivity. We get bombarded with unhelpful thoughts and find ourselves reacting to them in an unhealthy way:

  • We wake up feeling anxious about the future, so we opt for the first distraction we can get our hands on.
  • We start experiencing self-defeating thoughts, so we get wrapped up in them and fall down the negativity rabbit hole.
  • We try to start working through our to-do lists, but can’t maintain focus because our mind is being pulled in a million different directions.

If you resonated with any of those situations, then congrats! That’s a sign that you have a completely normal brain.

Luckily though, meditation actually changes the way that you respond to distraction and alters the structure of your brain.

In this study, researchers found that an 8 week mindfulness meditation practice produced a host of positive changes in the brain:

  • Increased gray matter in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory and regulating emotions.
  • Decreased volume of the amygdala, which is the part of the brain responsible for fear, stress, and anxiety.

Study participants also reported feeling more engaged in their work and an increase in their ability to focus for long periods of time.

In other words, meditation is a keystone habit because it impacts several other areas of your life at once.

If you’re going to implement morning meditation, try to start small. During your first week, start with 2-3 minutes per day and then gradually build your way up to 10+ minutes.

After two or three months of repeated practice, you’ll begin to notice the awesome benefits mentioned above.


woman meditating in the morning


#6: Start The Day With Exercise

We don’t need to spend time covering all of the various benefits of exercise because that would likely require a standalone article.

Thousands of studies have shown that sticking to a consistent workout regimen improves your mood, reduces stress, boosts your focus, etc.

However, there are a couple reasons why it’s particularly beneficial to get a workout in at the start of your day:

  • #1: You Sleep Better At Night: Early morning exercise causes melatonin to be released earlier in the day, which means you start feeling tired earlier and fall asleep quicker.
  • #2: Improved Focus On Morning Tasks: Exercise leads to the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine — all of which improves focus and mental clarity. This means that after a morning workout, you’ll be diving into your to-do list with peak levels of focus.
  • #3: Sense Of Accomplishment: Putting science aside, getting a morning workout in just feels badass! You’ve gotten your most grueling out of the way early, and you can ride that wave of momentum throughout the rest of the day.

Obviously, implementing daily exercise is a net positive regardless of whether it’s in the morning, afternoon, or evening.

But if you want to get better sleep and start the day in peak mental form, then consider moving your daily workout to the morning.


#7: Identify Your Three Non-Negotiables

When you wake up in the morning, I’m guessing that you have a lot that you want to accomplish. But if you want to set yourself up for a productive day, you need to find a way to tame this desire.

If your to-do list starts to resemble a grocery list, that’s a sure-fire way to get nothing accomplished.

Recently, I’ve adopted a simple prioritization exercise at the start of my day that allows me to direct my focus to the right places.

I start the ritual by looking at my long-term goals. From there, I write down 6-7 positive actions that represent forward progress towards those goals.

Then, I identify my three non-negotiables from that list — the tasks that must get done no matter what comes up throughout the day.

This simple ritual allows me to avoid indecisiveness and allocate my mental resources to the most important things each day. And perhaps more importantly, it prevents me from getting sucked into low-priority tasks that require minimal conscious effort.

So if you feel a little scatterbrained in the morning, try implementing this exercise to ensure you’re being productive instead of busy.


woman creating to do list


#8: Turn Off Your Phone & Put It Away

If you want to have a productive morning, you need to be operating in an environment that’s conducive to productivity.

Willpower is overrated when it comes to getting things done.

Some mornings you’re going to wake up and dive headfirst into your work with laser-like focus. Other mornings you’re going to wake up and struggle to concentrate on just about anything.

With that being said, there are certain environmental design tips that will shift the odds in your favor.

Here’s one of the most productive things to do in the morning — upon waking, turn off your phone and put it away somewhere.

This one-time action will significantly improve your chances of spending the first few hours of the day productively.

Because if you’re being honest with yourself, you pull out our phone because you’re bored. You don’t actually want to check Twitter or scroll through Instagram, you just want to feel stimulated and free yourself from emptiness.

If you turn off your phone and stick it on the top shelf in your pantry (which is what I do every morning), you’ll realize how little you care about catching up on notifications.

Putting an extra barrier between you and your smartphone in the morning removes a major impediment to your productivity. And with one less distraction around to zap your focus, you’ll find it easier to get into a productive groove to start the day.


#9: If You’re Gonna Eat, Include Eggs

If you are going to eat breakfast, it’s a good idea to ensure that your morning meal includes eggs.

Eggs are often referred to as a “superfood” because of the variety of awesome health benefits they provide. But because this is an article about productive things to do in the morning, let’s talk specifically about how consuming eggs improves your focus and concentration.

First off, eggs are one of the best sources of choline in the world. Choline is the precursor to acetylcholine, which is the neurotransmitter that helps us feel alert, energized, and attentive.

So when we eat eggs, we experience increases in all three of these traits, thus putting us in a mental state that promotes productivity. 

But as they say in the game shows, that’s not all. Eggs also contain l-tyrosine, which is a building block of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

We’ve already talked a little bit about dopamine, but essentially it’s the neurotransmitter responsible for motivation, drive, and pursuit.

We need dopamine in order to do hard things, plain and simple. Consuming eggs increases our dopamine levels, thus increasing our motivation to embrace challenging work.

Now look I get it, eggs are bland and flavorless. They’re boring to cook, and even more boring to eat.

But if you want your brain operating at peak efficiency, then eggs should need to be included in your first meal of the day.


eggs and toast


#10: Drink A Glass Of Ice Water

There’s a lot of productive morning habits on this list that you can adopt, but realistically you can’t adopt all of them at once.

You’re going to have to pick and choose, except when it comes to this next habit — drinking a glass of ice cold water.

Regardless of what you have planned for the morning, this is something that you can work into your routine immediately.

The biggest reason you should start your day by drinking ice cold water is because we all start the day in a state of dehydration. After 7-9 hours of zero water intake, your body needs fluids to start waking up and functioning normally again.

Additionally, cold water causes your body to produce adrenaline, which obviously is an important part of feeling alert and focused.

So tomorrow morning when you wake up, start the day by chugging a big glass of cold water.


Final Thoughts On Productive Things To Do In The Morning

I hope that you enjoyed this article about the most productive things to do in the morning!

Every one of the morning habits that we just covered are built around one goal — optimizing your body and mind to perform at their peak levels.

It’s amazing how much of a difference the simple things like getting morning sunlight, eating eggs, and taking cold showers can have on your morning.

But that’s the great part about life — the most important habits are usually the small, non-sexy stuff that most people overlook.

Which one of these habits will you try out tomorrow morning?

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