The One Habit That Makes For a Productive Day

Personal productivity can differ tremendously from day to day. For example, I can work out, study, write, clean, and play piano one day and the other I can’t make myself get up from the couch.

This inconsistency bothered me to this point, that I decided to examine my mindset, actions, physical and mental health, and other factors that may have an impact on my personal productivity. I used Dan and Chip Heath’s technique of implementing change that I recently wrote about (see the article “3 steps to change yourself and others” for more) and focused on the bright spots. I asked myself what works and why is that?

So I sat down with a notebook and deeply analyzed my past week, focusing on the days when where I’ve felt the most and least motivated, happy, as well as eager to do my work.

I learned a lot of interesting things about myself and what triggers my specific behaviors. Sure, there were a lot of factors that I couldn’t control like the bus being late or the current weather. But most of all the thing that determined how productive I was going to be in that day was the simplest action. It seems to be one of the more insignificant decisions we make during the day, yet it is a game-changer. What distinguished the “good” and the “bad” days was if I made the bed in the morning.

All on its own it’s a pretty irrelevant act, but what makes it such a powerful habit is the chain reaction it causes. If you wake up and immediately make your bed you have already accomplished and done something hard in the first minutes of being awake. You feel proud and motivated to face the rest of the day. Because if you were able to defeat the urge to stay in bed and then also make it, what can’t you do?!

Furthermore, when you make your bed right after you wake up you are much less likely to get back in it. A good extension of this habit would also be to dress up right after you make the bed because then, you have already got up, defeated your monkey brain, and got ready, all in the first 5 minutes of your day. If that doesn’t raise morale than I don’t know what does.

All of this can be encapsulated in one rule: How you start your day sets the tone for the rest of it.

The way you start your day matters and has a major influence on how productive, grounded, or joyful the day is going to be. And this is great news for all the non-morning people out there because what matters is how you spend your morning and not when. If you focus on developing a meaningful morning routine you can get out of the AM more than people who woke up hours before you.

I know that I’ve been a big advocate for waking up early in my articles and I still am – I think it’s a great way to include a lot of healthy habits or to quiet down before the day – BUT you don’t need to have a 3-hour morning routine just to have a meaningful morning. I know a lot of people who struggle with waking up early because they work best at night. It is completely fine and this post is written for all of you night owls out there.

Making the bed right after I wake up has become one of my most essential habits. It either makes me feel accomplished and motivated or just leaves me without the option of going back to bed (both working out very well for me). I encourage you to implement this hack in your morning routine to see what other habits it will provoke and also to ask yourself ”How does my morning look like?”

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