**You asked, we listened - welcome to a snappier Sunday Supplement (thanks for the feedback)**
3 morning habits to supercharge your productivity
Most morning routines pass in a blur of necessity—punctuated by alarms, coffee pots, and ironing boards; before arriving at your desk to blearily start the day.
But, what if there was a better way to start your day? A way to optimise your morning to heighten your working memory, maximise your focus, and make you 20% more productive?
It’s easy, costs virtually nothing, and will only take you around 15 minutes.
H2Oh Yes please
If someone told you to not have anything to drink for 7-9 hours—it would be difficult, right? And yet, most of us will reach for caffeination rather than hydration when we wake up.
Your brain mass is about 75% water, and when that level dips even a little, it can result in sluggishness, brain fog, attention deficit, sleep problems, and imbalanced mood and emotions.
Maintaining proper hydration has been shown to help sustain focus and memory - two vital components for a productive day. The same study also showed that energy levels dipped, and levels of anxiety and depression rose in the dehydrated control group.
So, what better start to your day than a glass of water? (You need it to take your Heights anyway 😉) Try to keep a full glass next to your bed, and drink it when your alarm goes off before you get up.
Here’s what our in-house dietitian, Sophie Medlin had to say about hydration and the brain:
‘Being just 1% dehydrated can significantly affect our mental performance, so make sure you’re getting plenty of water in the morning to catch up with the dehydration we all experience overnight. Particularly if it’s hot or we’ve had alcohol, our brains are very likely to be underperforming!’
Have a mindful moment
A regular mindfulness practice trains your brain to pay attention, and will result in compound benefits - in much the same that a daily plank tones your abs. Consistency is key here, so building into a time when routine is queen—like your morning—is the easiest way to make it into a habit that sticks.
People who meditated regularly for a few weeks increased their working memory by 30%. In real terms, that means that meditation can greatly improve the amount of information you can hold and process in your brain at any given moment.
Mindfulness meditation can also help with your emotional awareness and control, critical thinking, creativity, stress management and sleep—all crucial for a productive day.
Involving mindfulness in your routine can look very different to each individual person. Essentially, it's the practice of being present. That could be with a daily meditation, but if that’s not for you, it could be perfectly and deliberately setting up your workspace to be distraction-free, or it could be the ritual of making your tea—it just has to be something you can get lost in.
How our Chief Science Officer, neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart starts her day mindfully:
‘I know I have a better day if I prioritise doing my meditation early in the morning routine. Any time of day is fine of course, but it’s more likely to be relegated to the bottom of the to-do list later in the day! I tend to pick super-charging meditations rather than calming ones in the morning.’
Nourish those neurons
Proper nourishment has a huge impact on performance at work. A study by the International Labour Organisation showed that poor nutrition impacts productivity by up to 20%. That’s like losing one out of every five hours, just from lack of proper sustenance.
When it comes to the mornings though, breakfast in particular plays a lead role in how successful your day is. In a study from psychologist, Roy F. Baumeister’s book, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength—researchers asked one group of children to come to school and have a healthy breakfast before starting lessons, and another group to skip breakfast altogether. The breakfasteers had fewer issues with behaviour and better learning patterns than those who hadn’t eaten. And, after having had a snack, the children who had skipped breakfast showed improvements in behaviour and learning as well.
Our advice? Just make time for it - in a way that suits you. If you’re hungry straight away, then breakfast is an easy one, but if it takes you a while to come around—plan ahead and have something easy and nutritious on hand.
Sophie’s simple #brainfirst brekkie ideas:
‘Ideally, pack protein into your breakfast and try to get two portions of fruit or veg in. Yoghurt with berries and nuts is the perfect start to the day, as is eggs and/or salmon with some spinach and mushrooms.’