5 steps to more productive mornings


5 steps to more productive mornings

I wake up to music. My husband prefers the sound of crashing waves. My son likes woodland noises. My daughter needs someone yelling up the stairs as her buzzer sounds.

To each their own, but how a morning begins is a personal choice.

What is not a choice for most of us is that the work day starts at a set time each morning. Clients, colleagues, and the pesky people who pay us expect to see our shining faces on time and ready to go. Whether you are a morning person or not, you can maximize your productivity with a morning ritual.

A ritual is a series of actions that you regularly perform in a similar order, in similar situations. We all have them. Rituals differ from habits in that rituals have an element of intent to them and you can plan for them in your day. I’m sure that you have a Getting Ready Ritual in which you engage as soon as your alarm sounds (chirping frogs anyone?).

What is your Opening Ritual once you get to your desk?

Here are some tips for an effective Opening Ritual to begin the work day:

  1. Follow a predictable routine. Map out the first 30 – 60 minutes of your day. What do you need to do to start the day well and how much time should you allocate to each task?
  2. Avoid jumping into email. Once you open your inbox, you may be sucked into a whirlpool of others’ needs. Do this last.
  3. Minimize interruptions. Mute your phone and make sure your email notifications are off. Schedule morning huddles rather than interrupting others with the modern-day equivalent of MBWA (Management by Walking Around).
  4. Include productive tasks. Your Opening Ritual is a time to look at your calendar for the next few days, update your to-do list, note your top priorities for the day, clear off your desk, do some stretches, etc. Avoid tasks that steal your productivity and/or that of others.
  5. Use self-imposed rewards. If it is hard for you to stay on track with your morning ritual, choose some self-administered rewards for performing the less pleasant tasks. Maybe you use your favorite coffee creamer only when you’ve finished your Opening Ritual.

In short, the purpose of an Opening Ritual is to set the day up for success. Too often, the work day is a blur of emails, meetings, and other tasks. Avoid starting your days this way – you’ll have enough of that when your first email hits your inbox.


Lori is a marketing manager who works in a fishbowl. Her well-intentioned boss stops by her office almost every hour with a question or comment. What should Lori do? In this video, Dr. Melissa Gratias describes how she advised her client to: (1) make sure she was keeping her boss informed, (2) take 10 seconds to note what she was doing before an interruption, and (3) have an honest conversation with her boss about communication.


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