Date
March 23 2016
Written By
Paul Jaworski
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How to Start Your Day

The Night Before

The perfect start to your day starts with proper planning.

First order of business: decide what you're going to wear tomorrow. Don't make important decisions like how you're going to present yourself to the world when you're half-awake. Don't get caught in a frenzy when you realize you don't have any clean shirts in the morning. Handle that stuff ahead of time.

Your next task is to get to bed early. Turn off the laptop and the TV, put away your phone, and read a book instead. The light from these devices negatively impacts your sleep, and therefore your morning. If you really must stare at your laptop screen late at night, use a program like f.lux to filter out the blue light from your screen. In fact, you should use this program regardless of how late you're on your laptop, since it gradually reduces the amount of blue light on your screen as the sun sets.

Okay, I know I said to put away your phone, but there's one last thing you need to do on it before you shut your eyes. Ditch your traditional alarm clock, and get an app like Sleep Cycle. Apps like this track your sleep patterns, so you can figure out if something is waking you up all night like your dog kicking you in his sleep. Even more beneficial is the "alarm clock" feature. Waking up in the middle of deep sleep to the awful sound of an alarm clock is jarring and a pretty awful way to start your day. With Sleep Cycle, you set your desired wake-up time, and it wakes you up at some point in the preceding 30 minutes, when you're at the lightest phase of your sleep. This makes it feel like you're waking up naturally, and you'll feel much more refreshed and rested.

 

Wake up Early

You picked out your clothes, you read some of that novel you've been putting off instead of watching Bob's Burgers until 2AM, you've got your cool, hi-tech alarm app downloaded. The next thing to do is get up early - earlier than usual. Start by getting up 30 minutes before you normally do. Give yourself more time to get ready and get moving in the morning, and stop rushing. Stop creating unnecessary stress in your life by hitting the snooze button.

Speaking of the snooze button, when your alarm goes off, get out of bed... immediately. Don't lay around dreading getting up. Don't read emails or look at Instagram on your phone. Just get up. Don't even think about it, just do it. If you have trouble doing this, "train yourself" by laying down during the day, setting an alarm for 15 minutes from when you lay down, and getting up immediately when you hear it go off.

 

Meditate

Meditation is the single most important thing I do on a daily basis. There are tons of studies backing up its effectiveness in reducing stress, improving attention, and regulating emotions. It is not an exagerration to say that it will improve every aspect of your life. There's a reason CEOs of major companies like Salesforce and Tupperware swear by it.

If you're brand new to meditation, I suggest starting out with Headspace to learn the basics. It's pretty straightforward, but doing guided meditations in the beginning can really help you ease into it. Once you're levitating, I recommend using Insight Timer for your daily practice.

 

Exercise

After meditation, exercise is the second most important thing I do for my physical and mental health. You know exercise is good for you, but what you probably don't realize is just how much better you'll feel when you make it a part of your daily life. Don't have time? I guarantee that working out will make you more productive. Don't have money for a gym? Do bodyweight exercises. Don't want to lift weights or do push-ups? Start surfing, rock climbing, hiking, running, something!

There are many paths to being in good shape, so I'm not going to tell you what you should do, but I fucking love lifting. If you're interested in that, find a solid program and stick with it. Don't just go to the gym and start doing random stuff. Here is a helpful program picker. Once you've found a program that matches what your goals are, read up on it. Read as much as you can about the lifts you'll be doing, the frequency of the workout, etc. There's a lot of information out there, so don't get overwhelmed - just start lifting. Track your workouts with an app like Fitocracy, and get involved with a community like /r/fitness.

Sidenote: if you sit at a computer all day, you probably have bad posture. Check out this writeup on how to improve that.

 

What Now?

Start today. Don't put it off. Add in these things one by one if you need to, but start doing something right now. You'll thank yourself for it later.

 

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