How to Start Your Workday On the Right Foot

How to Start Your Workday On the Right Foot

Our mornings tend to set the tone for the rest of the day. If we’re frazzled and running behind, that can start a domino effect that continues to throw us off until we hit the pillow at night. On the other hand, starting off with an intention and a plan can lead to smooth sailing and an improved mood the rest of the day.

Here are a few ways you can start your workday on the right foot.

Wake up earlier.

When you leave just enough time to squeeze in a quick shower before you have to rush out the door, the chances of you being late or forgetting something important are pretty high.

Instead, try waking up so you have more than enough time to get ready, eat breakfast and mentally prepare yourself for the day. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, try switching an afternoon workout for an early morning workout.

Studies show that those who exercise before breakfast tend have more energy, eat better, and have a better mood throughout the day.

If exercise isn’t your thing, try devoting at least 15 minutes in the morning to a meditation practice. Most people find that their mind is most quiet at this time and the simple act of sitting in stillness can activate a meditative mindset for the rest of the day.

Use your commute effectively.

Sitting in traffic can be seen one of two ways — as an annoyance that only ups the frustration factor in your day or as a gift of rest and relaxation before tackling your tasks for the day. I’d go with number two.

I’m not huge on listening to the radio, but when it comes to my morning commute, I choose the radio show that will get me laughing all the way to work. It’s amazing how that can jump start my day.

If that’s not your thing, try a book on tape. Or, if you’re really starved for silence, just take the time to reconnect to your breathing and set your intention for the day.

Intentions can be simple: “I intend on having a productive day that flows easily from one task to the next.”

It’s about getting clear on what you want, and setting the stage for that to happen.

Have a plan of attack.

Productivity is often preceded by a plan. It doesn’t have to include every last detail of your day, but outlining what you need to do and the best order for it to be done in can be extremely helpful.

Start with your most important (or most-dreaded) task first. That way, if you were to get absolutely nothing else done in the day, you know that the most important task has already been completed.

Give yourself an allotted amount of time for work and for breaks.

FYI: Studies show that the less time you give yourself to complete a task, the more effective you are at getting it done — it takes less time and your work tends to actually be of a higher quality. Strange, right?

Eat well.

Being productive and staying on task for a full workday takes energy and energy is fueled by food — thus, being mindful of what you eat is essential if you want to make it to 5 o’clock.

So what does this entail? A breakfast that will keep you satisfied and full while offering the much needed morning energy boost.

Include whole grains, protein, dairy, and fruits and veggies if possible and avoid artificial sugars that will cause your energy to plummet before lunchtime.

Still not convinced you’ll have enough time to eat breakfast before bolting out the door? Then find alternatives that you can carry with you — make a smoothie the night before, or bake breakfast bars on the weekend that you can bring with you throughout the week.

Fake it until you make it.

If, despite your best intentions, your workday starts off in the dumps, fake it until you make it.

Give yourself five minutes to create a gratitude list. Smile at yourself in the mirror for a solid minute. Allow yourself two minutes to gripe to a friend.

Then, clear the slate and start fresh. Don’t continue to rehash the events of the day to anyone that will listen — that will only keep you stuck in a place of frustration and upset.

What do you to start your day off on the right foot?

Photo by FreeDigitalPhotos.

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Kayla Albert spent two years plugging away as a freelance writer before taking a job as a community manager for a local newspaper. She enjoys writing about productivity and personal growth topics. You can also find her at


  1. Michal Schmalz on the 27th September

    Nice article. I would suggest that when you talk about studies that show something you refer to actual studies not another articles.

  2. Jessica Dewell on the 1st October

    An addition that I also like: After I wake, I take 10 deep breaths (count to 8 on inhale and count to 8 on exhale) taking note of how I feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. Then when the rest of the routines start I am mindful of how to get the most of each moment.

  3. Gillian on the 2nd October

    Great tips to have a more productive start to the workday. Exercising in the morning and listening to audiobooks on the commute to work are fantastic for waking up body and mind!

  4. Scott on the 21st January

    Nice post Kayla! I can’t say enough good things about starting your morning off right. I’ve made it a habit to workout 5 days a week in the morning to start my day, mostly so I’ll have the energy and focus for the day ahead. It becomes almost like a drug, but a healthy one of course. Especially as an entrepreneur, creating a routine helps eliminate distractions so you can perform at your optimal level!

  5. Stef Gonzaga on the 22nd January

    Another great way to start one’s day right is to get a good night’s rest beforehand. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent what could have been productive hours sleeping on my couch just because I can’t focus and my brain’s too tired.

    The next thing I knew, it’s already dinnertime!

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