Barriers to a Productive Morning: Things you should never do first thing in the morning: ‘not-to-do’ list for the perfect morning routine

Did you know that the morning is the most important time of the day because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have?

Morning routines: It’s obviously a hot topic all the time and you’ve probably come across those inspiring stories of people who started waking up at 4:00 am to become super productive.

But the truth is, waking up insanely early won’t lead you to be productive in the morning.

How much time we have in the morning is far less important than how we spend the time we have.

Not sure why?

Well let’s say, you have 1 hour each morning of organized, focused, and creative work and you have 3 hours of disorganized, semi-distracted, low to medium-quality work.

Which one is better?

The first one it is, obviously.

That’s why you must focus on what to avoid in your morning routine.

Distractions are everywhere. So, for a productive morning, you have to be aware of them in order to avoid those distractions.

In this article I’m gonna break down 11 things that you should stop doing when you wake up in the morning, if you’re doing them right now. 

What should go on your not to do list for the first thing in the morning? Why is it hard to be productive in the morning? What are the barriers to a productive morning?

BARRIER #1 : Hitting the snooze button on your alarm.

You expected this one to be on the list, right?

Many people snooze two or three times before waking up. Are you among them too?

There are 2 reasons why this is a terrible idea.

  • Hitting the snooze button is admitting defeat as your first action of the day. Here’s why. You had set an intention to wake up at a specific time the night before, but ultimately you failed. Snoozing gives you the relief of having to sleep some more when the alarm sounds.
  • Hitting the snooze button is basically denying yourself a good, healthy sleep that you could’ve had since you’re trying to interrupt your sleep cycle and then trying to get into a new one which is going to be inevitably interrupted early again.
What to do instead:

Every time you hit that snooze button, you jolt your own heart. Do yourself a favor and get out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off without snoozing.

This won’t be always easy. But here’s a little trick. Place your alarm clock/ mobile phone outside your bedroom, so that you have to get up and move to stop the alarm. But keep in mind, that with the right motivation in your mindset for the day, you won’t need any alarms at all.

BARRIER #2 : Checking social media/smartphone as soon as you wake up.

Are you one of those who just slide your hand under the pillow, pick up the phone and check whatever you missed as soon as you wake up?

Do you scan WhatsApp, Facebook, or Instagram to find out who reached out to you and what others are doing while lying on the bed?

If you’re one of the people who wake up in the morning and immediately check social media on your phone, you need to stop doing this.

  • There are 2 main reasons for this. If checking social media becomes the first action of your day, then the first action of your day is giving into a craving for novelty and that counteracts all of the work that you’ve been doing to build your focus muscle. Instead of giving social media the priority of your day, you can do other things like having breakfast, doing workouts, and reading a book for a bit. You should tell your brain “You have to wait sometime before you go and check all those novelty-inducing social media feeds.” This will surely make your mind focus on your work later in the day.
  • Most people start their day by checking social media feeds in bed. You tend to grab your phone and start checking. You intend to check those for about 5 minutes, but you end up looking at them for 20 minutes or even 1 hour! And there is no any healthy position to be looking at a phone in bed. You either look at your phone propped up on one elbow or with your arm above your head putting your body in a bad postural position. This can even end up causing nerve damage. This can be really painful and take a long time to heal. From today onwards use your bed to sleep and not for using your mobile phone.

As Tristen Harris says, “Looking at your phone as soon as you wake up frames the experience of ‘waking up in the morning’ around a menu of ‘all the things I’ve missed since yesterday.”

Such a mindset affects your productivity not only in the morning but also the entire day.

What to do instead:

I used to check my mobile early in the morning since I thought it was the best way to be updated. After I came across several articles about how it damages our productivity throughout the day, I gave up that habit a long time ago. Trust me my life has been a lot easier since then. In my opinion, the worst way to start your day is by checking your mobile phone and social feeds. Don’t check what other people are doing and compare their lives with yours. Just focus on what YOU want to do with your life.

The same applies for the activities such as checking emails. Skip and spare that part in the first few hours of your day.

BARRIER #3 : A scrambled bed.

It takes about two minutes to get your bed ready. So why don’t you prepare your bed as soon as you get up in the morning?

William H. McRaven says, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. If by chance, you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made. That you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

What to do instead:

It’s simple. As soon as you wake up, spare a little 2 or 3 minutes to prepare your bed. It will be a quick message to your mind that you’re ready for the day to begin.

Leaving the blinds closed is also another silly mistake we all do. You might not prefer the sun rays creeping into your room during the early hours of the day. However, there are many benefits of sunlight that our body expects.

Early morning sunlight helps us fight diseases, prevent inflammation, and strengthen bones. Even though leaving blinds closed gives us a sense of a prolonged night, we miss some of the advantages of the early morning sunlight.

BARRIER #4 : Complaining.

A lot of people wake up in the morning and start complaining. They complain how early it is. They complain about having to go to college or work. They complain about how tired they feel in the morning. Are you one of them? The words you use to express your thoughts are the major problem here. The way you express your feelings definitely has a tangible effect on your state.

Complaining means you’re focusing on the problems and obstacles, and it makes it harder to recognize the opportunities and to be grateful for what’s already achieved.

What to do instead:

Focus on the bright side of your life. focus on the things you’re grateful for each and every day. If possible, maintain a gratitude journal. All you need to do is to prepare a small notebook and write down what you’re grateful for. Include things in your morning routine.

If you find it difficult to come up with new ideas, here are some things that you should be grateful for and that you should include in your gratitude journal.

  • I’m grateful for my parents who look after me well.
  • I’m grateful for my family who are there for me no matter what.
  • I’m grateful for my beautiful and peaceful home.
  • I’m grateful for having a best friend whom I can share any secret with.
  • I’m grateful for having enough to eat and drink.
  • I’m grateful for having a proper and a quality education.
  • I’m grateful for living in a safe and beautiful country.
  • I’m grateful that I’m able to see the beauty of nature.
  • I’m grateful for having access to inspirational and positive content.

BARRIER #5 : Untidy living area.

This might seem far less concerning but is absolute truth. If you wake up to find your living area a mess, how would you feel fresh in the morning? It could be your bedroom, your study area or wherever you’re going to spend the rest of your morning, it won’t be productive if you don’t find it as a calm, organized place.

What to do instead:

Never forget to clean up your living area the night before. And gather all your equipment, supplies and other stuff you’d be needing for the whole day the evening before.

BARRIER #6 : Not preparing your day the evening before.

So, you decided to get up early in the morning and you did get up too. you have like two hours or even 30 minutes of extra time, so what are you going to do? Going about it random?

What to do instead:

For being productive, planning out your day is essential. It will reduce not only the amount of time you waste wandering but also the number of decisions and tasks you have to complete each morning between getting up and doing your work.

For that preparing your day the evening before is essential taking 10 to 15 minutes.

Avoid needless decision-making in the mornings. Use your morning time for productive action instead. Take a little step towards your long-term goal. Improve your skills. Learn something new. You have the whole day ahead for the rest.

Keep in mind that you don’t need a detailed plan as working at a busy, exhausting office. You just need to make sure your morning time gives you its best worth.

BARRIER #7 : A long to-do list.

Having a to-do list is a common productivity tip. But how does it feel to start your day by looking at a long to-do list with hundreds of tasks? I’m sure it will give you nothing but a headache!

What to do instead:

Don’t allow yourself to feel exhausted and stressed in the early hours of the day with a long list of to-dos. Instead have a clear idea about your tasks and organize the tasks according to their priority. Keep it to a minimum.

Don’t mention irrelevant or unimportant tasks in your to-do list. If there are a few less important things to do, make sure to prioritize your to-do list. Focus on being productive rather than being too busy.

If you have a big task to accomplish how about breaking it down to bits? Then you can continue accomplishing those small tasks sequentially.

Start by practicing it today.

BARRIER #8 : Having an unhealthy breakfast.

Some people would like to have breakfast full of sugar or simple carbs. But neither of these is gonna set you up for sustained healthy energy throughout the day. Some people wake up every day and convince themselves to go to Starbucks and get a breakfast sandwich. No! These things are not healthy.

What to do instead:
  • Try to avoid sugary food at all costs.
  • Also never forget to skip your breakfast.
  • Make sure that you’re eating a healthy breakfast on a regular basis.
  • Hydrate your body after you wake up in order to function your body well.

BARRIER #9 : Getting straight to work.

Mornings are the perfect time to start anything fresh. It’s also the perfect time to take care of your body and get inspired. If you’re one of the most people who are trapped in a busy lifestyle, you might find it impossible to corporate positive habits into your daily routines.

What to do instead:

Instead of waking up and rushing to work, take some time to do things that is good for your body, soul, and mind. Even if it’s a simple 20 minutes it will truly be beneficial for your health.

BARRIER #10 : Waking up at inconsistent or random times.

Maybe it would not be possible with some jobs and for people who work shifts during the week, the consistent times may be difficult. If you’re one of them, then this is not about you.

Some people get out of bed in an instant while others roll around in bed for a long time. But neither of them is suitable.

Getting up instantly as soon as you wake up won’t give your body sufficient time to adapt. When you wake up your body requires a few more minutes to prepare for the awakened state.

On the other hand, staying in bed for a long time will do nothing but urge you to stay some more time.

What to do instead:

Laying 3 to 5 minutes in the bed serves as enough time for the body to adapt. Getting up 3 to 5 minutes from the time you woke up will work best for you. What you can do is just sit up! Once you’ve done that you’ve won the battle against sleep.

BARRIER #11 : Not having a good night’s sleep.

Last but not least, let’s not forget the benefits of a good night’s sleep. All activities depend on sleep. A good sleep on the other hand makes everything better.

What to do instead:

Listen to your body. Have a good sleep when you actually need it. it means don’t get into bed unless you’re actually sleepy. Don’t force your sleep.

As mentioned earlier in a previous point, be consistent about the time you go to sleep. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Establish good sleep routines.


Waking up early for the sake of being productive won’t work unless you aren’t distracted. The quality of your time is more important than the quantity of that time. In order to be productive, you should only include the tasks that matter the most and avoid unnecessary, time-consuming tasks.

If you’re doing one or few of these activities as soon as you wake up, it’s time you make some changes to your everyday morning routine. Don’t try to fix them all at once. Try focusing on one task at a time, and then move to the next.

All you need to practice is building good habits while leaving bad ones behind. Get a proper sleep, be organized, and use your day fruitfully.

That wraps up the article. And it’s time to hear what you have to say.

Do any of the above facts sound familiar to you? Or did I miss anything?

Either way, let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Thanks for reading!

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