4 Science-Backed Ways To Be More Productive & Focused In The Morning
Do you know your chronotype?
That's the science-y classification for early birds and night owls—aka, your body's preference1 for waking up earlier or later in the day. Some experts say that while about 50% of your chronotype is due to genetics, you can train yourself to be a morning person if you're naturally more of a snooze-hitter.
So, if getting yourself out of bed when you wake up feels like one of the hardest things you do all day, these research-supported tips might alleviate some of that "ugh"-ness and support your morning energy, focus, and productivity:
Clear your workspace (like, really KonMari it).
Your physical environment directly affects2 how you work, so if your desk, office space, or kitchen counter (wherever your work happens) is messy, there's a good chance you're not operating as optimally as you could be.
Research shows3 that cluttered spaces can have negative effects on our stress and anxiety levels as well as our ability to focus because our brains are wired to like order. Using fMRI scans, scientists at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute also noted4 that clearing all this workspace clutter actually boosted productivity. Constant visual reminders of disorganization in your periphery may be what's draining your focus and, in turn, your productivity, so now's a great time to finally clean your desk.
Good light goes a long way—get lots of it.
A hit of morning light exposure when you wake helps send signals to the brain that it's time to start the day. Natural sunlight is the way to go, but a bright indoor light is equally effective5 for an energy boost—as long as it's full-spectrum (aka, not too warm). Based on the natural spectrum of outdoor light that our bodies respond to, the Brilli WellBright Spectrum™ in the Charge Up light bulbs supports mood, focus, and alertness. This same powerful light spectrum also smartly surrounds Brilli's One-Touch LED Vanity Mirror so you can amp up your awakeness while getting ready in the morning. It's the first lighted mirror for bathrooms, bedrooms, and vanities designed to support well-being with premium light quality (not to mention skin tones appear vivid and natural).
For a more energized (and less groggy) start to the day, try getting 15 to 20 minutes of daylight or full-spectrum light exposure into your morning, then maximize your natural light exposure by working close to a window, or keeping the lights on around your workspace during the day.
Put your to-do list and goals down on paper.
The science of goal-setting on paper is pretty powerful: Researchers have found that of nearly 300 participants, those who wrote down their goals on a regular basis were more likely (a whopping 42% more likely, in fact) to reach them than those who didn't. This may be due to the simple reason that writing by hand6 influences the parts of the brain associated with learning.
Spend five minutes in the morning writing out the tasks you want to accomplish during your day—there's a good chance you'll be closer to checking them off your list.
Avoid the temptation to sleep procrastinate.
Loads of research peering into what affects a.m. productivity point to how much sleep we get the night before. Night owls who sleep later (closer to midnight, or after) have a disadvantage: Their sleep gets clipped in the morning hours, when important REM or dream sleep occurs. So instead of the recommended seven or eight hours of sleep per night, they're only getting five or six. Cue the grogginess.
Going to sleep even an hour earlier may be harder than waking up, so you'll need to help your body relax and wind down as much as possible. Instead of big meals, hard exercise, and bright lights before bed, slow down the excitement. Dim the lights, do some reading or gentle stretching, and shut down your blue-light-emitting screens at least an hour before you ideally want to fall asleep. Brilli's warm, dimmable Wind Down light bulbs (and Get In Sync downlights for your home's overhead lighting) help lull your body and mind into relaxation—without any blue light. Not only do blue lights suppress melatonin, which makes it harder to fall asleep, but they also diminish the quality of sleep you get through the night.
So if you truly want a more energized and productive morning starting tomorrow? The key is to start, well, tonight.
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Krista Soriano is the Senior Branded Content Editor at mindbodygreen. She holds a B.A. in journalism with a minor in communications from Messiah College, graduating summa cum laude. She has written and edited lifestyle content for over 15 magazines and websites, including ELLE, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Runner’s World, and DuJour. At mbg, Soriano helps our partners—which include non-profits and Fortune 500 companies—tell their stories, covering everything from the future of regenerative agriculture, ethical banking, and the endocannabinoid system. She lives in New York.