For those of us that don’t quite have the perfect work-life balance down, 10-hour days in the office can be killer. Managing a to-do list for this week is nearly impossible when you’re barely getting through today. But changing your morning routine even a little bit can radically transform your efficiency and confidence at work.


Julie Morgenstern, the author of Time Management from the Inside Out ($6 on Kindle), believes she’s unlocked the secret to maximizing productivity. Through observing her clients at companies like American Express, Bank of America and Microsoft, she traced their loss of concentration to checking email in the morning. “It opens up a whole reactive part of your brain,” she says. “You may feel like you’re getting something done, but it’s very hard to shut your mind off and regain focus once you open that window shade.” Scroll on for her morning routine tips for getting more hustle out of your day.

How to Be More Productive


1. Make a plan. “The more decisions you take out of your morning, the less hectic it’s going to be,” Morgenstern says. Before your head hits the pillow, pack your bag for work, prep your breakfast and elect a big project to devote your efforts to tomorrow. With the logistics out of the way, you can now use those early waking hours to treat yo’ self.

2. Smell the coffee. Whether you enjoy a calming cup at home or prefer to stop by your favorite cafe, centering yourself at the beginning of the day puts you in control. Try connect on a sensory level and avoid multitasking (ahem, or checking your Instagram feed). “By starting your day that way, you’re more able to find that centeredness again when your mind starts to wander in a meeting,” she says.

3. Practice self-care. When you’ve done something for yourself, you have more energy to serve other people. “It becomes a well spring that you can pull from throughout the day,” she says. Many of Morgenstern’s clients feel fueled by exercise, but you can get the same effect from anything that you enjoy, like journalling or listening to music.

4. Prep during your commute. Instead of upping your Candy Crush game, use your commute to transition from home to work. If you have a big project that requires strategic thinking, review notes from past meetings or visualize solutions.

5. Conquer tough tasks first. Devote your first power hours at work to a project that requires the most concentration. While it’s tempting to warm up with the easy stuff, like responding to emails and cleaning your desk, they actually steal your energy from your more important assignments. Knocking out the larger things on your to-do list gives you a sense of accomplishment and relief, which can move you forward all day.

What morning rituals do you swear by? Tweet us @BritandCo and drop some knowledge.