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10 Morning Habits Destroying Your Productivity

These are the all-time worst ways to start your day.

Fact: The way you spend your morning is critical to how well you perform the rest of the day. That first hour—even the first few minutes—set the day's tone, and if you have bad habits (or simply no habits at all), you'll find yourself burning precious hours, wasting time, needlessly stressing, and ultimately derailing your day before it's even started.

But having the right routine in place can transform your entire day, ensuring that you're humming on all cylinders, thinking at a higher level, and getting more substantive work done than you ever thought you could. Here are 10 morning habits you need to cut out of your daily routine right now to ensure your putting your best food forward every morning. And if you're looking for other ways to have a fresh start, don't miss the 52 Easy Ways to Be Smarter with Money in 2018. 


Man hitting the snooze button

"The snooze button shaves time off of your jumpstart and usually calls for rushing," says Jodi Ashbrook, an author and speaker as well as founder of ZenLeader. "Rather than hitting snooze more than once, and rushing to your Keurig machine or straight into the shower, give yourself a fighting chance to wake up on a positive note.

If you have trouble adjusting to this snooze-free morning routine, it may be that your alarm needs to go. Nele Van Cauteren, director of customer relations for wellness company ShoomKloom suggests that being "woken up by a harsh and annoying sounding alarm clock" is a major killer of morning productivity. Instead, she recommends you "wake up naturally or with a soothing sound of the alarm clock, like a favorite song." And for more great advice, here are 15 ways to double your productivity in half the time.

Not Laying Your Clothes Out the Night Before

Clothes laid out night before

"If you wake up and you don't have a clear structure of what you should be doing next to set yourself up for a successful day, you resort to reactive mode, instead of productive mode," says Rafael Hope, a personal coach, productivity expert, and founder of Amen V Amen.

To avoid this, he recommends that you put in place a set system, of several practices that you do every morning, even when you don't necessarily feel like it. Having a routine, even a modest one, will give you the foundation on which to build a super-productive morning. And if you're spending 20 minutes in the morning worrying about what to wear, you're already behind. So take the extra step of planning ahead, and you'll wake up with an instant edge.

Doing Chores

Woman doing chores in the morning.

"Mornings can quickly turn into a nightmare when everyone is rushing without too much of an attention to the surrounding world," Jasmine Hobbs, cleaning and home organizing expert at London Cleaning Team. "You can reduce all this stress to the minimum, if you just don't do your chores in the morning and make most of the preparations at night. Making lunch and checking up on kids can really save your mornings. You will even go to bed much more peaceful and relieved." And for one morning routine that definitely didn't involve chores, check out Princess Margaret's crazy decadent wakeup rituals. 

Eating a Crummy Breakfast

Bagels for breakfast crummy

You are what you eat, and your day is only as good as what you start it with. So a sugar-filled first meal of the day is going to leave you with a quick energy boost quickly followed by an energy crash before the day's barely begun.

Milana Perepyolkina, lifestyle expert and author of Gypsy Energy Secrets: Turning a Bad Day into a Good Day No Matter What Life Throws at You recommends a fruit or green smoothie "filled with fiber that will slow down sugar absorption. A smoothie that tastes good that you have for breakfast will make you feel good right away and provide sustained energy until lunch." And for more healthy morning meals, here are 3 Perfect Breakfasts for Blasting Belly Fat. 

Failing to Set Your Priorities

Man contemplating priorities.

"Productivity is based in great part on focus—and the better you can focus, the more likely you'll accomplish what you want," says David Radin, CEO and co-creator of Confirmed Instant Scheduler, who has worked with hundreds of professionals to be more effective in their roles.

To get that focus, Radin recommends planning your day the moment you wake up, setting your priorities and focusing on those items before you get distracted by the less important items.

"It's even better if you can set your priorities the night before, and simply review them first thing in the morning—and to keep your schedule consistent from day to day, so you can create good habits on how you conduct your day," adds Radin.

Checking Email and Social Media

Man checking email in the morning.

"Checking emails first thing can throw you off your game by burdening you with other people's agendas and other people's goals," says Amira Lamb, a fitness and holistic lifestyle expert who runs Holistic Hottie Inc. "Checking social media or news first thing in the morning can or you into a funk quickly and easily."

Maura Thomas, a speaker, trainer, founder of, and author of Personal Productivity Secrets and the recently released Work Without Walls, grants that retreating into busy work is understandable—but dangerous.

"When you sit down at your desk and think 'What do I need to do now?' the sheer number of options can be overwhelming," says Thomas. "And that probably causes you to retreat into busy work, something that is easy, familiar, and doesn't require a lot of thought. For most people, this means email."

She adds that this is what makes a set task list, or agenda for the day, created before going online, so vital.

Failing to Centralize Tasks

To do list for starting morning right

"People sabotage their morning productivity when they don't organize their tasks on one cohesive task list," says Thomas. "Tame your to-do list by centralizing your tasks. Do you have to check two different email accounts, the Post-it notes on your computer, your calendar and your voicemail to figure out what you need to do? Get your to-dos all in one place."

Forgetting Your Moment of Zen

Man meditating on the beach

The morning is the time you need to set out your mind frame for the day, to feel grounded and positive about whatever you have to face. That makes some kind of mindful pause—either to meditate, do affirmations, or pray—hugely valuable in creating a healthy mindset for the day.

"Focusing on what you want to go well that day, meditating on it, asking your God what your task is for the day, etc., can be a great mental practice for getting you super clear and super focused on what you intend to accomplish for the day," says Ginny Leavitt, health coach and founder of Set-Point Wellness.

Natasha Solae, founder and CEO of GirlCEOUniverse, agrees, stressing the importance of "intentionality" in setting your day on the right track.

"If you want to set your day up for success, the most game changing thing you can do is to start your day off with intention," says Leavitt. "When you set your intentions first, you tap into your inner GPS, and create a crystal clear blueprint of exactly what you want to happen that day. This intention allows you to anchor yourself in your values, your passions and your aspirations so that you know that every task you complete for the day is one that actually brings you closer to your biggest goals instead of keeping you busy."

Forgetting to Get Your Body Moving

Morning run, two people on a beach

"One of the worst morning habits that can throw off a person's productivity is not making the time to exercise," says Deborah Sweeney, CEO of "The best way to reframe your morning to include exercise is to wake up a bit earlier than usual and squeeze in a quick jog, spinning class, or yoga before you head in the office. It's not always easy to wake up a bit earlier for exercise, but it's worth it for the extra energy it provides your body to keep you charged all day long."

Even a serious stretch session can make the difference between feeling sluggish or energized as you set foot out your door. Some kind of physical activity in the morning will make your mind feel sharper and you'll feel more ready to deal with what the day throws at you.

Forgetting to Check the Weather

Rubber boots in a puddle

"With the winter months upon us, a quick check out the window can let you know that you need to get out there, clear some snow, then get ready, versus waiting to the last minute and rushing out the door," says Rubina Tahir, chiropractor, author and lifestyle expert. "Dressing for the weather is important. If you feel good, you boost your productivity. In addition being cold or too hot can cause you to shift your focus when it comes to daily tasks—the goal is to achieve balance and stay ahead of mother nature."

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Alex Daniel
A journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Read more
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