Want to get out of overwhelm—and get more done in the process? Here’s how:

 

Set up the right morning routine

 

Tim Ferriss.

Barack Obama.

Oprah Winfrey.

Arianna Huffington.

 

What do all these people have in common—other than being insanely productive?

 

They swear by their morning routines—and if you want to get on their level of productivity, you need to swear by the same.

 

Establishing a consistent morning routine is one of the most effective ways to eliminate overwhelm, increase productivity, and get more out of every day. Think about it this way—how you start your morning sets the stage for the rest of the day. So, if you start your morning reactively and fostering feelings of overwhelm (for example, by immediately jumping into email the minute your eyes open), you’re going to feel reactive and overwhelmed all day long.

 

On the flip side, if you start the day proactively and with intention (for example, with a solid morning routine), it allows you to tackle the rest of the day proactively and with intention, which can help you better manage everything on your plate and keep overwhelm at bay.

 

So, in a nutshell, if you want to maximize productivity, you need the right morning routine. But what, exactly, does that morning routine look like?

 

The ideal morning routine to maximize productivity

 

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to developing a morning routine; ultimately, you need to figure out what works for YOU. There are, however, a few key practices that you should consider if you want your morning routine to set you up for success for the rest of the day.

 

So, what are those practices?

 

Meditation

 

No matter what your experience with mindfulness (or lack thereof), if you want to be more productive throughout the day—and get out of overwhelm in the process—meditation needs to be a cornerstone of your morning routine. Period.

 

Meditation is one of the most effective tools for increasing productivity, better managing stress, and not falling prey to the overwhelm trap.

 

Meditation has a laundry list of benefits that will help you ramp up productivity and minimize overwhelm, including:

 

  • Increased focus (A 2012 study published by The Journal of Neuroscience found regular meditators performed significantly better when asked to identify a specific number sequence on a screen that rapidly flashed over 100 numbers per minute than people who had never meditated);
  • Better stress management (Meditation has been shown to lower cortisol, the stress hormone, and improve emotional regulation);
  • Increased creativity (Studies show that meditation encourages divergent thinking, which is key in developing new ideas);
  • Increased ability to overcome setback and challenges (Meditation has been shown to build resilience)

 

If you’ve never practiced meditation, start with five minutes a day. As you become more comfortable, try to work your way up to 20 to 30 minutes. (For more on how to get started with mindfulness meditation, check out this comprehensive guide from The New York Times).

 

Exercise

 

There is a seemingly endless list of benefits you’ll get from exercising—including increasing productivity. A recent study found that employees reported massive increases in productivity on days they worked out—a 21% increase in concentration, 25% increase in finishing projects on time, and a whopping 41% increase in motivation to get things done.

 

Clearly, working out works—but if you want to squeeze the most productivity maximizing/overwhelm minimizing benefits out of your workouts, plan to work them into your morning routine.

 

Working out in the morning ensures you experience all of those benefits (like increased focus and motivation) when you need it—before you jump into work. The rush of endorphins you get from AM workouts can also help you better manage stress throughout the day—which can keep feelings of overwhelm to a minimum. And last (but certainly not least), making exercise a part of your morning routine ensures you’ll actually get it done—and other priorities throughout the day won’t get in the way.

 

Reading

 

Nearly one-quarter of all adults in the US (24%) haven’t read a single book in the past 12 months—but if you want to increase productivity and decrease overwhelm, you shouldn’t plan on being one of them.

 

Reading has a laundry list of benefits; not only does it expose you to new information and ideas that can help you in your business, but it’s also extremely relaxing.

 

Research shows that just six minutes of reading reduced stress levels by a whopping 68%—so if you want to kick overwhelm to the curb and spend your day feeling calm and collected, spend a few minutes reading every morning.

 

Visualization

 

You might think visualization is too out there or “woo woo” for your taste. But the fact of the matter is, it works—and if you practice it regularly, it can be a gamechanger when it comes to getting out of overwhelm and getting more done.

 

In case you’re not familiar with the practice of visualization, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like—it’s the practice of creating a mental image of an event that has yet to happen, and (this part is a must) fully embodying how you’ll feel when that event happens.

 

Visualization works on both the brain (by training your brain to create new neural pathways that support your visualization) and the body (a recent study found that “virtual workouts”—or practicing an exercise through visualization—increased muscle mass by 13.5%, nearly half the increase of people who practiced the same exercise in real life).

 

If you want to eradicate overwhelm, spend five minutes every morning visualizing what it would be like to be in control of your work. Fully embody the experience. The more you visualize getting rid of overwhelm once and for all, the more your brain and body will conspire to bring that visualization into reality—and the less overwhelmed you’ll feel as a result.

 

Want to learn more? Check out these posts:

 

Start Your Day Off On The Right Foot With Morning Tips From Some Of The World’s Most Productive People

The Highly Productive Morning Routines of 10 Badass Women

The Morning Routines of 10 Successful People

If You Can See It, You Can Achieve It: Why Visualization Is The Key To Hitting Your Goals