Productivity experts are always extolling the virtues of getting up an hour earlier to get more done, yet many of us are additcted to our snooze buttons. Here, we asked the experts how to make the start of our days run more smoothly so we’ll maybe actually want to get out of bed.
Exercise and meditation are healthy ways to start the day, but you can also get mood-boosting benefits from spending time in light. Scientists at the Neurobiology Research Unit at the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark found that 30 minutes of bright light–from the sun or light-therapy lamps–reduces anxiety.
Make mornings about execution and not assembly, says Julie Morgenstern, author of Never Check Email in the Morning. Everything you need to start your day should be premade, packed, or prepped the night before. Don’t leave decisions–such as what to wear–for the morning. “We clutch under pressure, and choosing takes more time,” she says.
Improve your mood by traveling to work on public transportation, bicycle, or foot. Researchers from the United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia found that commutes involving physical activity improved the effects of sleepless nights and general unhappiness, and traveling by train or bus gave people time to relax, read, and socialize. In fact, a study done at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business found that talking to strangers gives commuters a boost in happiness.