Over the years I’ve learned that the first hour of the day is one of the most important. How you spend it can mean the difference between starting your day feeling calm and centred, or rushed and stressed (not a good starting point for creativity or decision making).
As someone who’s had more than her fair share of bad mornings, I’ve realised that taking the time to get into the right headspace can have a big impact on how my days play out. It doesn’t guarantee a good day, but it can mean the difference between feeling in control and getting stuff done, or disappearing down a rabbit hole.
When you’re working from home, it’s generally easier to have a stress-free morning. You don’t have to contend with the daily commute, for a start. But when you live and work in the same place, you also have to make a conscious effort to get yourself into work mode.
With that in mind, here are a few simple ideas to help you start your day on a positive note.
Leave the house for work
Going for a brisk 10-20 minute walk before you fire up your computer can help in a number of ways: it helps clear your head, energises you, and taps into that familiar feeling of leaving the house for work – signalling to your brain that it’s time to get down to business. If you’re lucky enough to live near a park or green space, even better. As this article shows, being in natural surroundings helps to revitalise your brain and boosts creativity.
Doing this also helps create that separation between work and personal time, which can be really valuable. Yes, you can work any time you want, which is one of the advantages of working from home. But you also want to make sure your home remains your sanctuary, somewhere you can properly unwind, which in turn leads to greater productivity.
Get your body moving
When you’re working from home, it can be all too easy to slip into a sedentary lifestyle and, if you’re not careful, not leave the house for several days. This can quickly become a vicious circle, leading to brain fog, depleted energy and generally feeling low.
If you’re anything like me, exercise is the last thing you feel like doing first thing in the morning. But it’s one of the best things you can do to lift your mood, boost your energy levels and combat stress and depression.
So how do you motivate yourself to get moving? Going for that brisk walk each morning is a good start. If you’re into your yoga, I find doing a few sun salutations sets me up beautifully. Or if you’re new to yoga, there are lots of great YouTube channels and resources to check out (I love Yoga with Adriene).
If yoga isn’t your jam, you could also have a look at some of the micro-workout apps available, where you just get your body moving for a few minutes each morning. I used Seven for a while (a seven-minute workout) and would recommend checking it out, though at the moment I prefer something a bit calmer in the mornings. Each to their own!
Quentin Tarantino famously hand-writes his scripts. There’s something about that connection of pen to paper that can help ideas to flow.
Personally, I find it useful to write down thoughts and ideas in a notebook before I start work in the morning (your unconscious mind keeps mulling over problems while you sleep, so this can be a good time to come up with new ideas).
I must admit I don’t do this every morning, but I find it particularly useful when I’ve got a lot of creative work to do, or when I’m feeling stuck or uninspired.
Often, I find it helps to just start writing. Forget all notions of what you write being good, and just write. Don’t let yourself stop for at least five minutes. If you’re feeling stuck this can help you clear your mind and, crucially, get over the obstacle of starting, which is often the hardest part.
Long-term readers may remember this post, it was first published back in April 2014 and was hidden away in my archives. I’ve republished it, with the addition of my more recent yoga finds!