Striking a balance between work and family life is one of the top three concerns for parents going back to work. Another challenge is the feeling of constant time restraints. One way that working parents can find balance between work and family life is by making the most of the early morning: perhaps the only time of day where we have uninterrupted time to ourselves.
Whether you consider yourself a ‘morning person’ or not, getting up early is a habit that’s been proven to positively influence your attitude, energy levels and performance throughout the day.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham reviewed 83 studies on energy and self-control and found that both have limited capacity and tire out just like a muscle. So as the day goes on, it’s harder to maintain control and focus.
That makes the morning, when self-control is highest, the most important time of the day. But this doesn’t necessarily mean getting up early to crunch out all your work. The trick is to fill this time with good habits that will set your whole day up for success.
Early to bed, early to rise
Getting up early can’t be considered without also looking at what time you go to bed. Getting up at 5:30 am after crashing at 11 pm is just burning the candle at both ends. If you’ve been a diehard night owl, try setting an alarm one hour before the time you’d like to be in bed – just as you set an alarm to wake up – to signal that it’s time to wind down. Work out how much sleep you need to feel good, when you’d like to wake up and count backwards for bed time. Easy, right?
Sneak in some morning exercise
Exercise is widely recognised as the best activity to include in your morning routine. Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes soothes the brain and keeps you in control.
Drinking lemon juice with warm water as soon as you wake up spikes your energy levels and kick-starts your metabolism, which is a great way to load up on some much-needed natural energy for your morning routine.
Enjoy some calm
When life is going full tilt, reserving some ‘me time’ in the morning can make all the difference. The morning is the perfect period to take some time to yourself and prepare for the busy day ahead, leaving you refreshed and focused.
Soaking up the peace while doing stretches, journaling or sitting quietly with a coffee and thinking about how you’d like the day to go can put you in the perfect frame of mind to tackle any challenge.
The morning is also a great time for goals. Setting goals for the day puts everything into motion. Narrow your goals to a few achievable ones that can be broken into steps.
Some people also like to use part of their morning time to catch up on the news and reply to emails, prep for meetings or review documents that require uninterrupted concentration.
And let’s not forget food. Eating a proper breakfast in the peace of your own company is so much more enjoyable and beneficial than wolfing down mouthfuls while helping the kids find their socks or sorting through your inbox.
When you get to work
Once you’re at work:
- Clean your workspace: Studies have found that people who work in a clean workspace outperform those who work in a cluttered one3.
- Do the most important things first: No matter what else happens in your day, the critical things will be done.
- Assign time to clear your to-do list: Make it a point to complete the most important tasks, but keep referring back to your goals during the day.
By making small changes to your morning routine, you can help improve your overall productivity throughout the day. For more tips, statistics and insights into work, productivity and family life visit The Real Deal on Working Parents.