In theory, mornings should signify a fresh start. After all, every day the sun rises is a brand-new opportunity to tackle your to-do’s and work toward your goals. But let’s be real: Most mornings are rushed, chaotic, and anything but productive. We wake up, hit snooze several times, then begin a madcap dash around the house to find a missing shoe while trying to chug a (too hot) cup of coffee.
Fortunately, mornings don’t need to be that way. We asked productivity and wellness experts for the strategies and tools that they use to start their days off right. Below are the tips and tricks that anyone — even the sleepiest night owls — can use to start their day on a more productive and healthier note. Ready to re-make your morning routine? Read on.
BETTER editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, BETTER does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.
"What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast," by Laura Vanderkam, $11, Amazon
If you want to improve your morning routine, consider this short book required reading. “Learning to use mornings well is, in our distracted world, what separates achievement from madness,” says productivity expert and author Laura Vanderkam. In this book, she uses both real-life anecdotes and scientific research to show how high-achievers use the early morning hours to improve their careers, health, and personal life — before the rest of us are even eating a bagel.
RCA Digital Alarm Clock, $10, Amazon
Using a good old-fashioned alarm clock might just revolutionize your mornings. “Your alarm shouldn’t have your email on it,” Vanderkam explains. “It’s too easy to turn off the alarm on your phone and quickly see what's come in — but then you can get sucked in and lose time that might be better spent on other things.” Make your alarm clock as “dumb as possible,” she suggests — and then see how much time you save.
The Five Minute Journal, $23, Amazon
Melody J. Wilding, a therapist and coach who works with high-achieving entrepreneurs, suggests starting each day by setting an intention soon after you wake up. “Ask yourself, ‘What one thing, if accomplished, would help me feel like today was a success?”
This journal, dubbed as the “simplest way to start your day happy,” can help you do just that. Each page begins with an inspirational quote, then prompts you to jot down a few things you’re grateful, a daily intention, and what would make your day great.'
Stanley Classic Vacuum Pint, $20, Amazon
Your body was asleep for 7 or 8 hours — it needs water, stat! Jeff Sanders, productivity expert and author of The 5 AM Miracle, says, “I wake up every morning and drink a liter of water while walking my dog, just before I brew my Americano.” While you don’t have to drink a full liter, keeping an insulated bottle, like this one from Stanley, by your bed can serve as a helpful reminder to rehydrate before coffee.
MyChelle Refining Sugar Cleanser, $18, Amazon
Help your skin wake up with this vanilla-infused multi-tasking cleanser that Laura Lea Bryant, a certified holistic chef and cookbook author, swears by. “I am obsessed with this facial scrub,” she says. “It smells like heaven, feels amazing on my skin, and I truly feel like it helps my skin glow.”
Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate, starting at $22, Nordstrom
Another tip for streamlining your morning? Pick multipurpose products. This beauty serum from Kiehl’s brightens up your complexion while working to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. “I spend a lot of time on video calls, so I need to look natural and camera ready without much fuss,” Wilding says. “After only a few days of using this serum, I could visibly notice a difference in my skin's brightness.” Healthier skin and less makeup? Win-win.
Brooks Ghost 10 Women's Running Shoes, starting at $54, Amazon
Not only will a morning workout will boost your endorphins, making you feel happier the rest of the day, but studies also show that you’ll burn more fat if you work out before you eat breakfast. Score! Another good reason to exercise in the a.m., according to Vanderkam: “You only have to shower once!”
As a runner, Vanderkam turns to these Brooks running shoes for her daily jogs. She’s now gone through several pairs, changing them out every 500 miles.
Dobby Be Free Knicker, $64, Athleta
Another must-have item that helps Vanderkam get up and out for her a.m. workout: leggings that hold everything you need to hit the ground running. “I like these tights that have a back zip pocket for keys and ID, and side pockets big enough to hold a phone — and energy gels if you're running far enough,” she says.
Vega Protein and Greens, $27, Amazon
Chocolate for breakfast? Absolutely, when it comes along with protein and greens — and no added sugar. This protein powder provides 20g of vegan protein, as well as nutrients from organic alfalfa powder, broccoli powder, and kale powder.
“Adding protein powder to a smoothie can be an easy way to give your breakfast a healthy boost,” says Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, nutritionist and author of The Small Change Diet. Throw a few pieces of frozen fruit, a cup of almond milk, and two scoops of this in a blender, and voila — breakfast is ready.
Quaker Quick 1-Minute Oats, $8.53, Amazon
Quick-cooking oats are a fast, easy, and healthy breakfast, Gans says. These oats provide 4 grams of heart-healthy fiber and 4 grams of filling protein. Plus, they couldn’t be more convenient — just cook in the cup, grab, and go. “Add non-fat or low-fat milk instead of water to provide more protein, and add a healthy fat, such as almond butter,” Gans suggests. “Both of these simple additions may help you stay full until lunch.”
Keurig K Select Coffee Maker, $130, Amazon
Prefer to stick with classic java? This coffee maker simplifies the process, so all you have to do a touch a button to brew a perfect cup every time. Choose your K-cup, select your strength and then your favorite coffee, tea, or iced beverage is ready in less than a minute. The water reservoir holds 52 ounces of water, so there’s no need to refill every morning.
Baloray Lunch Bag, $13, Amazon
Decision fatigue is real. This concept stems from having to make too many little decisions during the day — before the big ones that really matter. Cut back on the many choices you have to make in the morning — and sustain mental energy — by picking out your outfits, prepping your lunch and slotting appointments in your calendar the night before, Wilding suggests.
That’s where this stylish and functional lunchbox comes in handy. It’s insulated and has plenty of room for a sandwich, snacks, and a drink. Pack it the night before, so you won’t have to worry about it in the A.M.
Get our best picks for kids' lunchboxes here.
Stand Steady Standing Desk, $180, Amazon
Finally, it’s time to get down to business. “Standing for the first half of my workday keeps me energized and focused,” Wilding says. This standing desk allows you to adjust from sitting to standing as needed, giving you the flexibility to be comfortable all day long. Even though using a standing desk won’t burn a crazy amount of calories (only about 50), some studies do suggest that workers are more productive when using a sit-to-stand desk, like this one.
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