Have you ever had one of those mornings where you woke up filled with energy and fired with enthusiasm, and got straight into your day? Chances are, you raced through a stack of work before lunch, and kept up that sense of momentum in the afternoon. In the evening, you felt happy and relaxed, pleased with what you’d accomplished.

Or … have you ever had one of those mornings where you dragged yourself out of bed, downed a mug of coffee, and pried your eyes open whilst surfing the web or watching television? Chances are, your day didn’t really pick up from there: you found yourself procrastinating, wasting time, and making mistakes. In the evening, you felt like you’d wasted the day.

Getting your morning off to a great start lets you have more good days and fewer bad ones. There are a few simple steps and routines you can put in place to maximise your chances of an energised, productive morning – and a great day to follow:

Get Enough Sleep

If you find yourself extremely reluctant to part from the duvet in the mornings, it could just be that you’re naturally lazy … but it’s more likely that you’re not getting enough sleep. Some people are fine with six or seven hours, others need nine: so don’t assume that your current sleep quota is enough for you.

Ways to maximise your chances of a good night’s sleep include:

  • Going to bed earlier (set an alarm to remind you to go to bed, if necessary!)
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evening
  • Switching off the computer and television and reading for an hour or so before bed – bright screens can prevent you from getting sleepy

Drink Water and Eat (a Healthy) Breakfast

Many people swear that they’re not human until they’ve had their morning coffee. I’d suggest holding off on the coffee for at least a little while after waking up, and drinking a big glass of water instead: being slightly dehydrated will knock your concentration levels right down.

Don’t forget the importance of eating breakfast: your brain won’t run well without fuel. If you don’t feel hungry in the mornings, you’re probably eating too much at dinner. A healthy breakfast like baked beans on wholewheat toast, or oatmeal, will give you slow-release energy to see you through the morning.

Pray, Meditate or Write

Starting off the day with some quiet, inward-focused time really helps you to think about your priorities and goals, and to decide how this day is going to contribute towards your general purpose and aims in life. Depending on your religious beliefs, you might find prayer a helpful way to do this – or you might prefer to meditate.

If you find your mind wandering during prayer or meditation, try writing instead: taking the time to work through your thoughts in a journal will pay dividends, as it often helps you to work out solutions to problems, or to articulate worries that have been nagging unvoiced in your mind.

Get Straight Into Your Day

The first part of the morning is often spent either idling (catching up with friends on Twitter, watching the news on television) or rushing around (finding the kids’ school books, packing lunches, hurrying to work).

Try to set up your morning so that you can get straight into the important part of your day. That might mean doing your work first and saving distractions for when you really do need a break. If your mornings are often fraught and busy, get into the habit of putting as much as you can ready the night before.

Tackle a High-Resistance Task

All of us have jobs on our “to-do” list which we really don’t feel like getting on with. Perhaps we’ve been putting off a particular phone call or email for weeks. Maybe we’re writing a book or a dissertation, but can’t ever seem to get started.

If you tackle one of these high-resistance tasks right at the start of your day, you’ll get a huge sense of achievement. It doesn’t need to be time-consuming – just something that you feel a strong reluctance to do. When you overcome this, you set yourself up for a great day when everything else feels like a downhill ride!