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10 Ways to Turn an Unproductive Morning Around

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turn an unproductive morning around

The way you start your morning sets the tone for the rest day. Do it right and you’ll have a uber productive day.

Do it wrong and you’ll be struggling all day long to get things done.

Luckily, it’s easy to turn your sluggish morning around and save yourself from an unproductive day. If you’re struggling this morning to turn your day around, pick one of these 10 tips to get back on track.

1. Do the Little Things

We all have big projects and lots of things to do. We usually recommend you tackle the hardest item on your todo list first, but sometimes it’s best to start on the easy stuff first.

When you’re having an unproductive morning, do the little things. The easy things that don’t require much effort and before you know it, you have the momentum to get the big things done. Even if you don’t, at least you got rid of those pesky little tasks. It’s better than doing nothing!

2. Set a Timer

One of my personal favorite tricks is to set a timer. Whenever I feel like I can’t get anything going, I’ll set a timer for 25 minutes (one pomodoro) and tell myself: “That’s all I’m going to do, just work on something for 25 minutes and that’s it.

It. Always. Works.

The most important part of this trick is that you build momentum (a common theme you’ll see among the other tips and techniques in this post). As long as you can get past that initial friction point and build momentum, you’re good to go. That’s why timers work so well – they help you do both.

Try it and I’m sure it’ll work like magic for you. If 25 minutes seems too long, start with just 5 minutes and say to yourself “I will only work on this for five minutes”.

3. Close All Browser Tabs and Apps

Are you THAT person who always has 20+ tabs open in your browser?

Stop it.

Close all those tabs right now. It’s distracting you from what you really need to do. Not only that, it’s also extremely overwhelming.

Whenever we feel overwhelmed we naturally gravitate towards inaction. So close all those tabs, apps and start from scratch. You’ll find it much easier to turn that morning around in no time.

4. Meditate

Speaking of overwhelm, one way to overcome that is by meditating.

We’re big fans of meditation. We once thought it was a woo-woo practice, but now everyone on the team does it on a daily basis.

If you’re feeling scatter-brained and your thoughts are all over the place – start meditating ASAP. All it takes is 5 minutes to turn it around. 10 minutes if you want to be really Asian Efficient.

Read this post and this one to get started on it.

5. Change Environment

Sometimes our direct environment is not helping us get into a productive mood.

There’s construction going on next door. You’re getting cabin fever. You’re staring at your screen and can’t get anything done. Whatever the case may be, an easy fix is to simply get out of that environment.

(If you’re someone who works from home, this is even more relevant.)

Here are a couple ideas:

  • Take a walk around the block.
  • Instead of driving somewhere, walk there.
  • Go to a coffee shop and work there.
  • Grab (early) lunch with someone outside your work environment.

Do any of these and once you get back, it’ll be really easy to get started again.

6. Take a Shower

Here’s a random tip (for the work-from-home crowd) that works like a charm: take a shower.

Don’t ask me why this works, but it does.

Feel like you’re in a slump? Take a shower.

Can’t focus on your work? Take a shower.

Are you delivering sub-par quality work and feel unhappy about it? Take a shower.

If you’re a real tough guy, take a cold shower. It’ll shake you up and it works even better.

7. Talk to a positive person

As you might have noticed thus far – a lot of these tips and techniques is about changing your mood. Another tip for this is to simply talk to a positive person.

We all know this ONE person in our lives. That person that always smiles, never complains and you always feel good and happy when this person is around.

Go talk to that person. Whether it’s on the phone or in real life – go do it. It’ll instantly change your mood that allows you to easily get swing back into getting things done.

8. Get Some Exercise In

Exercise is probably the best way to change your mood. Aside from all the health benefits that we all know about, it’s also a great way to quickly change your state and help you turn that unproductive morning around.

It doesn’t really matter what exercise regimen you do. It could be a quick walk, a session at the gym or even just a couple body-weight exercises at home. As long as you get your heart rate up, it’ll do the trick.

9. A Cup of Green Tea

At Asian Efficiency, we’re big fans of drinking green tea.

It’s soothing, relaxing and it helps you get focused. The bits of caffeine it has (25mg per 8oz cup vs coffee’s 95mg per cup) also helps you feel more energized which is perfect to get your day going.

We also have some coffee snobs on the team who will tell you to drink more delicious coffee, but since I’m writing I will tell you to drink more green tea.

I drink it quite often – especially when I know I need to tackle very focused work such as writing or project management. Generally we don’t like to rely on stimulants and supplements to get things done, but sometimes you just need that extra kick to get going and green tea is perfect for that (and it’s healthy too!). Win-win.

10. Dance Like Nobody is Watching

This one of those weird tips that I personally use. I’m lucky enough that I can work from home, so sometimes I’ll put my Sonos system on blast, play my favorite songs and dance like nobody is watching (because nobody is).

It always helps me get out of a funk and in the right mood to work again.

If you want to tone it down or you can’t dance in your office, listen to some of our recommended music playlists to get you in a productive mood:

Don’t underestimate the power of a good song. Playing your favorite song, or one you haven’t heard in a while, can instantly get you in a great mood to get back to work.

Pick and Choose Your Favorite Tip

There you have it – 10 easy ways to turn an unproductive morning around. Whenever you feel unproductive, pick any of these ten techniques and you should be back on track in no time.

If you want our exact step-by-step morning ritual with a checklist you can use, then check out our Morning Ritual Starter Kit.

Morning Ritual Starter Kit

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4 Comments

Posted by Charlie  | April 12, 2015 at 6:43AM | Reply

I work from home a lot as I teach online and am also developing some related projects. There’s some really useful ideas here: I like 2 and 3 a lot. I tend to have too many tabs open because ideas keep popping into my head and I think the key thing to be productive is to stay focussed. And I’ll try the 25 minute thing (I normally try to work in 90 minute chunks and then take a break but when I can’t get going, maybe just shorten the chunk). I’ll try the shower but, like going to the gym, when I have a sluggish morning or sluggish day I can’t muster up the motivation to do it. Coffee shops work great though – kills the cabin fever immediately.

Posted by Aaron Lynn  | April 16, 2015 at 10:34PM

Try 50 minutes too if 25 minutes is too short!

Posted by Devin Baillie  | April 26, 2015 at 12:43PM | Reply

I got to step 3, but after that it was hard to keep reading…

Posted by Benjamin  | May 17, 2015 at 6:41AM | Reply

Devin,

Take a cold shower!

It works!

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