How To Start Your Day For Optimal Productivity

How To Start Your Day For Optimal Productivity

How you start your day can really determine your productivity. Morning routines have trended their way around the business space for a while, but for good reason. A great routine can genuinely help us to optimize our performance later in the day, but how should we start?

The inspiration for this blog post came from one of our recent webinars, “Organize Your Space with TextExpander and Shift.” In case you’ve yet to explore our webinars, we host and co-host regular sessions on all things TextExpander and productivity. You’ll be able to watch previous webinars on-demand as well as see which themes are coming up next, so it’s well worth tuning in!

Now, though, here are our suggestions on how to start your day with optimal productivity in mind.

Explore Your Optimal Wake-up Time

An elaborate, long morning routine may not actually suit your chronotype! We’ve chatted about these on the blog before, as each of us has our own personal circadian rhythm. Some of us naturally rise earlier, and some of us naturally peak in energy later.

According to the Sleep Foundation, there are four main chronotypes:

  • “Lion: The lion chronotype stands in for the early bird. These individuals wake up early and are most productive in the morning, but may have more trouble following a social schedule in the evenings.
  • Bear: According to Dr. Breus, the bear chronotype makes up about 55% of the population. People with this intermediate chronotype tend to follow the sun. They do well with traditional office hours but also have no problem maintaining a social life in the evenings.
  • Wolf: The wolf chronotype is equivalent to the classic night owl, and is believed to make up approximately 15% of the population.
  • Dolphin: The dolphin chronotype is based on the ability of real dolphins to stay alert even while sleeping. Human “dolphins” are best described as insomniacs.”

Although lots of “productive morning routines” advocate for a pre-5 am rise, consider that this might not be in alignment with your body’s natural energy patterns. We recommend doing a chronotype quiz and experimenting with what is recommended for your type.

Stay Screen-Free For As Long As Possible

This is one we’ve experimented with casually on the TextExpander team, but it can be so powerful. Many of us have to use screens for our work, so carving out some tech-free time in the morning is especially important. Excessive screen time can be harmful, so finding ways to limit it during an impactful part of your day is great.

If you’re looking for ways to get started reducing your screen time in the morning, why not try:

  • Getting an alarm clock. If you use your smartphone’s alarm to wake up, you’re much more likely to start your day scrolling through your phone.
  • Turning off your phone at night. This may not be practical for everyone, but ask yourself if you genuinely need it switched on overnight, especially if you have a landline.
  • Try “Focus” modes or “Do Not Disturb” if turning your cell phone off feels too scary. Apple now lets you schedule these on iPhone to limit distracting notifications at unwelcome times.
  • Have a “Phone Spot” at home. This is where you leave its charger and ideally where you’ll sit while using it. This can help avoid the “wandering” effect that happens when we forget we even have our phone in our hands and wander around holding it.
How To Start Your Day For Optimal Productivity

Fuel Yourself, Physically And Emotionally

This is one for you breakfast haters. The benefits of breakfast are endless, and a delicious meal is one of our favorite incentives for getting out of bed on time! If you’re a breakfast skipper, consider that it doesn’t need to be a homemade, three-course affair. Instead, find a quick and simple breakfast that works for you. You could try a pre-made smoothie or a slice of toast with delicious toppings. For those of you who are more adventurous, try making a breakfast with productivity-boosting benefits.

Then consider what would fill you up emotionally. For some that might be a meditation practice or time to pray. You could carve aside quiet time reading in your favorite chair with your most beloved hot beverage. Perhaps you have a hobby you’d like to dedicate some morning time to. Either way, choosing an enjoyable activity that fills your spiritual cup can ground you before things get hectic.

Get In Some Exercise

It may not be for everyone, but the science on getting some movement in the morning is compelling. A 2020 study found that older adults who performed moderate-intensity exercise in the mornings had better working memory and executive function throughout the day. Getting out for a walk is especially important for anybody who works from home, just like the TextExpander team. It could be just ten minutes of dancing to get the blood flowing if you prefer to workout after work, but morning exercise can really boost your mood and productivity.

Include An Activity With A Bit Of Variation

The same routine, however “optimal,” can get repetitive and even boring when done every day. Try adding in something that creates the feeling of there being a “wildcard” in your day if you’re feeling stuck. This could be an actual card, like pulling a tarot card if that’s your thing, or picking a completely random workout video every morning. Whatever it is, adding at least one thing that is an unknown can make the rest of your routine feel more enjoyable.

Spend Five Minutes Deciding What You Want To Accomplish Today

This tip comes directly from the Organize Your Space webinarScheduling our days can reduce our stress levels, because at every stage of our day we know where to focus our energy. We also think this avoids the “headless chicken” approach: only doing that which feels most urgent, regardless of how important it is.

If you’re ready to uplevel your planning sessions, consider printing out a copy of the Eisenhower Matrix. This tool will help you determine just that: what is most important to do on any given day, rather than just what feels urgent. It’s a really helpful approach in deciding what deserves your attention.

Watch the Organize Your Space Webinar

If you love exploring ideas that will help boost your productivity, the Organize Your Space session is for you. Don’t forget that we host new webinars all the time, sometimes with great co-hosts like Shift. You can see what’s coming up next and catch up on replays here.


  • How you start your day can boost your productivity and help you feel prepared.
  • Find out what your chronotype is so that you can create a morning routine that suits your natural energy fluctuations.
  • Start your day with breakfast and fill your spiritual cup with a morning practice to fuel yourself emotionally too.
  • Morning workouts improve working memory and executive function.
  • Switch things up and avoid monotony with a daily “wildcard” activity.
  • Always plan your day, deciding on what is most important before getting started.

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