Your morning routine is like setting up a string of dominoes: You line everything up for success, but one false move can cause it all to come tumbling down. To set the right tone for the rest of your day, experts say you should adjust the following seven habits.
1. Hitting the Snooze Button
It’s tempting to steal a few more minutes of sleep, but, according to Joanna Kleinman, a founder of The Center for Extraordinary Relationships, hitting snooze has a negative impact on your physical and emotional well-being. “Physically, hitting the snooze button actually sets you up to be groggy and less productive because you are repeatedly waking yourself out of a deep sleep,” Kleinman told Mental Floss in 2016. “Emotionally, you set yourself up to be late, rushed, and stressed in the morning.”
The obvious solution, Kleinman said, is getting out of bed right away (even if it seems impossible): “If we listen to our minds telling us what we feel like doing, we will never be able to make the positive changes we need to.”
2. Checking Your Phone
Doing this first thing in the morning stimulates self-criticism and judgments in your mind, Kleinman said: “Your emails and texts are all about things to do, things to buy, things to add to your to-do list. This amounts to either the stuff that other people want you to be paying attention to, or what your mind says you should be paying attention to.”
Even if you leave your inbox alone and stick to Instagram, you can do harm to your psyche because social media causes you to compare yourself to other people. Bottom line: Checking your phone first thing can awaken your inner critic. To stop yourself from opening your favorite social media app immediately after turning off your alarm, charge your phone in another room. Begin your day instead with a self-affirming habit like journaling or meditation.
3. Planning Your Day
If you wake up and have no idea what’s on your schedule, where you have to be, or what you’re going to wear, then your day is already off to a frantic start. Psychologist and Certified Master Coach Joel Ingersoll recommends organizing your day the night before. This way, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go in the morning.
4. Drinking Water ...
You may be craving a cup of coffee as soon as your feet hit the floor, but what your body really needs is a glass of water, Ingersoll told Mental Floss in 2016. Since you haven’t had any liquids in your system for at least six (or hopefully eight) hours, your body is dehydrated. You can have the coffee (see below), but your body will function better—you’ll have fewer headaches, less fatigue, and smaller bags under your eyes—if you down a glass of water first, according to Ingersoll.
5. ... and Coffee
Don’t feel guilty about reaching for the coffee pot after you’ve had your water—it is actually good for your body, too, Ilyse Schapiro, a Registered Dietitian and Certified Dietitian/Nutritionist, told Mental Floss in 2016. “Coffee is a great source of antioxidants, and it can increase energy as well as help to stabilize our moods,” Schapiro said. “It can also help keep our brains healthier and our minds sharper.”
Too much coffee isn’t going to do you any favors, though. Stick with one or two cups a day, and be consistent with how much you drink, or else you’ll start getting headaches and withdrawal symptoms.
6. Skipping Breakfast
Have you been told to eat a good breakfast before? That’s because it’s important, Bruno LoGreco, life coach and author of Stop Sabotaging Your Life, told Mental Floss in 2016. “Eating a healthy breakfast consisting of nuts, fruits, and oats will satisfy your brain to get you through a tough day at the office,” LoGreco says. It’s best to skip the doughnuts and croissants, though, as these will give you a sugar high and set you up for a crash just as you reach your desk.
7. Rising Early
A study published by the American Psychological Association found that early risers are happier and more successful than those who go to bed late. They tend to be more proactive, get better grades, and better anticipate and minimize problems. Morning people are also thought to be at a lower risk for depression.
A version of this story originally ran in 2016; it has been updated for 2023.