As a former night owl, I always thought evenings were the most peaceful and productive time of the day. However, since I’ve discovered the potential of quiet mornings, I’ve changed my mind. Evenings can certainly be productive, but if you get wrapped up in a project, a TV show or some other engrossing activity, you can quickly lose track of time and find yourself going to bed later than you’d planned, waking up groggy.

That’s why mornings are great for tackling projects or exercise or anything else you’ve been meaning to accomplish. Mornings don’t have to be super-productive, either. The great part about early mornings is that you can spend them however you want. They’re yours to shape. And you can make some of your most important decisions early in the day, avoiding what researchers call decision fatigue.

What is Decision Fatigue?

Decision fatigue is something that we aren’t even aware of because it’s different from physical fatigue. As the day wears on, you lose mental energy and each decision becomes harder for your brain.

To cope with this weariness, the mind uses one of two different shortcuts: act on impulse or do nothing at all. Therefore, it’s much easier for us to tackle exercise or projects if we decide to do so in the morning rather than at night.

Peace and Quiet

Some people use their mornings to have some peace and quiet by themselves. For a lot of busy parents and students, these minutes are essential to use as free time. As with any habit, this practice can be hard to maintain, but once you’ve decided on a morning routine, it can be very rewarding to claim that time for yourself.

Whitney Johnson, one of the world’s top 50 leading business thinkers, says, “Mornings are so precious because it’s when I’m most productive. For me, thirty minutes at 5:30am is equivalent to at least an hour at 3:00pm.”

I think even 15 or 30 minutes at 5:30 a.m. is equal to an hour in the late afternoon, as Johnson says, because there aren’t as many requests or demands coming your way. The world is still asleep. We’re less likely to check email and phone messages so early in the morning. And the rush hour traffic hasn’t started yet, so the world is more still and quiet than usual.

6 Ideas for a Fulfilling Morning Routine

Man running down street in sun - Early morningsIf you’re looking for ideas to help you get started, here are a few pleasurable activities you can incorporate into your morning routine:

1. Meditation

Meditation relaxes you, helps you control your emotions, and helps you practice gratitude by making you more aware of and present within each moment.

2. Reading

Whether you’re immersing yourself in a gripping thriller-mystery or a fascinating read on the human species, you’re keeping your mind sharp. Researchers at The New School in New York City have discovered that reading literary fiction develops your empathy, which will help you better understand what other people are thinking and feeling.

3. Journaling

Journaling is another activity that helps you practice gratitude. It helps you process negative emotions and set goals as well. You can use journaling for any writing activity you see fit, such as:

  • Outlining the steps you’ll need to follow to take your dream trip.
  • Jotting down thoughts about a rough day.
  • Recognizing all that you have to be thankful for in life.

4. Passion projects

If you have a side business that you’re developing, the morning is the perfect time to concentrate and set goals. If you’re working on a more creative pursuit such as a novel or a piece of artwork, it’s also a good time to focus on that, before the day really gets going and there are more demands on your time.

5. Exercise

Exercise not only keeps you fit physically, but mentally and emotionally, too. According to this Huffington Post article, exercise makes you happier because of the release of endorphins, which are chemicals that encourage happiness. I’ve often heard this release described as a post-workout high.

6. Professional development/learning

The early morning hours are a good time to devote to personal study. Since we experience decision fatigue as the day goes on, this is an ideal time to learn the technical aspects of a language (such as grammar and verb conjugation), listen to a podcast pertaining to your interests or read a personal development book such as The 5 Second Rule: Transform your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage or The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.

Each Day Brings New Opportunities

In an increasingly fast-paced world, having a morning routine is very important. This gives us time to accomplish the things we want in the amount of time we desire; or, if we choose, it gives us permission to do nothing and just sit in stillness. While it’s nice to sleep in every once in a while, we can lose a lot of time by doing so, and time is a resource we should use wisely.

Of course, each new day brings new opportunities. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”

«RELATED READ» WALK IN BEAUTY: 4 tools that’ll help you gracefully navigate everyday life»

Angela Ward is a communications professional and writer with an interest in personal development, mindful living and environmental protection. You can find her on Twitter.

image 1: Pixabay; image 2: Pixabay