How you rise determines how you shine (or slog) through the day. The morning rituals we incorporate set the stage for how the rest of the day will unfold - in the words of Ben Franklin, “Early to bed and early to rise makes man healthy, wealthy and wise.” In fact, many of our most successful entrepreneurs view their mornings as the most important part of their days. In this post, we’ll share a few simple changes you can make to your morning ritual that have been scientifically shown to improve energy levels, boost health, and encourage mental relaxation.
Avoid the Snooze Button
We’ve all done it – tapped the snooze button. But that doesn’t mean we should. In fact, many sleep professionals say that hitting that snooze button is one of the worst ways to start the day. Here’s why:
Snoozing Disrupts Your Sleep Cycle: The reason hitting that snooze is so harmful, notes Reena Mehra, Director of Sleep Disorders Research at Cleveland Clinic, is that night-time sleep cycles take anywhere from thirty-minutes to an hour and a half to complete, with our bodies naturally sending signals the cycle is nearing completion well before. The sleep we experience between snooze and second alarm is known as ‘light sleep’, or the sleep leading into or coming out of deep REM (the deep sleep we need to recharge). Waking during the beginning of sleep-cycle confuses our internal clock, and leaves our bodies and minds groggy for hours after because they were expecting a REM cycle that never came.
Snoozing Wastes Willpower: According to the New York Times Best-Selling book Willpower, humans have a limited amount of willpower to use over the course of any day. The more we drain early on, the less likely we’ll be to overcome obstacles later in the day. To avoid the snooze, place your alarm out of reach of your bed. This will force you to get up to turn it off, significantly decreasing the likelihood you’ll return to bed.
How Gather Can Help: The snooze is productivity killer, but that midday decompression session or cat-nap is often a productivity rejuvenator, which is perhaps why successful people and many of our most revered historical figures incorporated small periods of rest into their daily schedules, and one reason why Gather decided to include “Wellness” areas, or private rooms with comfortable seating where members can take some time out of their busy days for themselves, at most co-working locations.
Clear the Clutter
A cluttered room, or a cluttered workspace, leads to a cluttered mind. Reducing clutter or clearing some each morning helps set your work environment and mind up for success.
Make your bed: Bed making may seem like a simple morning ritual, but it can have big results. Just ask Admiral William H. McRaven, who put it best in his now famous ‘Make Your Bed’ speech when he said, “if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made — and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”
Keep your work area clear: It's difficult to think clearly, easy to forget important reminders, and just plain stressful if you feel you're fighting a tornado of clutter every morning. By clearing your desk of distractions and organizing the day with a to-do list, you can focus your energy on your work rather than the barriers to it.
How Gather Can Help: While Gather co-working spaces don’t offer bed-making services, we do reduce the amount of clutter you need to worry about. The common areas, meeting rooms and kitchens are cleaned and cleared daily for the optimally organized co-working environment, while private offices or booths offer members a work sanctuary away from at-home clutter and distractions.
Give Your Morning a Spark
When you start your car, a spark awakens your engine’s moving parts. In the same way, humans need a spark to get our dormant bodies and minds moving, rejuvenated, and functioning properly. The right kind of spark administered at the start of the day can do wonders to set the foundation for a productive day of success.
Start your day with movement: One of the best ways to add a spark to your morning is to get in some exercise.
"Exercise improves mood and energy levels," says Andrew Jensen, energy efficiency consultant with Sozo Firm in New Freedom, Pennsylvania. ".... there have been studies done on employees who've exercised before work or during the work day. Those employees have been found to have better time-management skills, and an improved mental sharpness.... Those same studies found these workers are more patient with their peers."
Exercises can be anything from morning pushups and stretching, a light jog or workout class. What matters most is that you get the blood moving. If you happen to struggle with exercise motivation, the mornings are your best bet, as studies have shown that people who work out in the mornings are more likely to keep a regular exercise schedule, and more often get the most out of their workouts.
Begin with a passion: Another great way to spark the day is by beginning it with something you’re passionate about. Read that book you’ve been putting off, go on that photography walk you’ve been thinking about, sketch out that painting, or put down a few words of a poem. By beginning your days consistently with an activity you love, your mind will begin to associate mornings with excitement and passion which will ripple throughout later daily activities.
How Gather Can Help: Exercise is easiest when it’s easy to exercise. Most Gather locations are conveniently located near gyms, exercise facilities, or yoga and pilates studios, many of which offer Gather members hefty discounts, while others provide on-site showers and changing facilities to give members a place to clean up after biking to work or completing that morning run. If you’re curious what amenities the Gather location nearest you offers, just call in and ask!
Relax with a Cup of Coffee
A reviving morning refreshment, whether it’s coffee, tea, smoothie or whatever you prefer, is an excellent way to energize. By making it a part of your morning ritual, you’ll have something to enjoy in a peaceful, relaxed state before facing the challenges of the day.
To supplement that morning Cup-o-Joe, many researchers recommend adding some light reading or socializing to the mix. There’s nothing quite like curling up in a cozy chair to decompress in the morning with the daily paper or favorite literature. More extroverted people may want to share coffee with a friend to share passions, projects or ideas. Whatever your preference, adding a morning refreshment to your morning ritual can do wonders for your long-term focus.
How Gather Can Help: Each Gather location is loaded with refreshments, from delicious, locally-brewed coffee or cold brew to fruit-infused water, tea, or even kombucha, depending on the location, which is one reason why Gather kitchens are often the first stop for many Gather members when they arrive. And while some prefer to enjoy their coffee with the morning paper, others enjoy getting in some pre-work socializing.
Whatever your preferred morning ritual, Gather coworking offers ample solutions, and consciously evaluates and organizes each space to cultivate a healthy, vibrant work environment that encourages productivity, mental calmness, and social cohesion. For more advice on how to get into a good morning routine and start your transition from night owl to morning bird, check out the New York Times article, “A (Former) Night Owl’s Guide to Becoming a Morning Person”.