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4 Ways to Dominate the First Hour


Get energized, get happy, and get things done the rest of the day.

Yesterday morning I hit the snooze button on my alarm twice, ate a late breakfast, drank too much coffee, and didn’t change out of my Under Armour sweat pants till 11 a.m.  I checked my e-mail before I did any work, refreshed my Facebook page five times in a row, and read an article about the strongest beer in the world. Then I took a break.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I didn’t get a lot done.

I don’t spiral out of control often because I normally stick to my “morning ritual”. To me, how you spend the first few hours is really indicative of how the rest of your day will be. If you wanna get all Tony Robbins, you can say that your first few decisions are setting you up for success or failure.

Wake up or sleep in? Scrambled eggs or pop-tart? Water or whiskey?

These are the things that shape the rest of our day.

And despite my recent transgression, I have four tips I follow every morning (well, almost every morning) that will help you feel energized and more productive.

1. Get some fresh air and drink some water

The quicker you can get out of bed and outside, the quicker you’ll wake up. I like to take a walk around the block while bouncing a tennis ball (hand-eye coordination, plus I like to annoy neighbors by bouncing it against their garages) or stand on my deck and drink a full glass of water. Be prepared for that final huge yawn – it wakes you up better than coffee.

2. Breathe like you mean it

So you’re outside on the deck (clothed, of course) or bouncing a tennis ball against your neighbor’s Buick. Instead of breathing in through your mouth and letting your chest rise, try taking long, deep breaths in through your nose while pushing your stomach out. Hold your breath for a few seconds then exhale through your mouth. Congratulations, you’re now using your lungs properly.

3. Stretch

We all know the benefits of stretching, but we rarely do it. A few months ago I told myself I’d start stretching before bed. Didn’t happen. (Apparently there’s a difference between telling yourself something and actually doing it.) So I stuck it in my morning routine where I now feel guilty if I skip it. I use a kitchen timer and do one-minute stretches for my quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, and hip rotators.

4. Breakfast before work, phones, or other distractions

Checking for text messages or refreshing your inbox before your first meal of the day is stupid. Trust me, it can all wait. Put on some music and actually cook yourself something healthy and tasty. It takes less than 20 minutes and you’ll be much more likely to eat well throughout the day if you start with a good blend of protein, carbs, and fats.

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