We have routines for almost everything that we do in life. If we are going out to dinner, we shave, get dressed up, brush our teeth.
But many of us who work from home don’t have a routine for starting work. Or, at least not an intentional, deliberate, strategic routine. Maybe we snooze our alarms three times, stare at our phones for 15 minutes, and meander over to our desk.
But work is important. And feeling good and productive at work is important — whether it is at home, in a crowded office environment, or in a coffee shop.
Routines help us to feel good and productive. They prime our minds and bodies — and if we do it right, they become even more effective as we become accustomed to them.
I challenge you to implement a “Pre-Work” routine that helps you to quickly get into that productive work state. You’ve likely been there before. The times when you can crush through work twice as quickly. The times when you feel motivated to push forward and be proactive. To think through problems before they arise.
As much as it may seem as if those mental states have occurred randomly, they haven’t. They arose from times when you did certain things — whether intentionally or by happenstance — that help you to be your most productive.
Here is exactly how I spend 10 minutes getting to that ideal, productive, energetic state:
1: Caffeine & Theanine
Many people will recommend that you do a bunch of other things to wake yourself up before consuming caffeine. And I agree that caffeine should not be the first thing to affect you in the morning. But even if you take it first, it won’t be the first thing to affect you. Caffeine takes about 15 minutes to begin affecting you — unless you’re taking caffeine tablets that dissolve on your tongue, in which case it is immediate. If you’ve ever felt the effects of a caffeinated drink within 15 minutes, it’s more likely the effects of the sugar that is also in that caffeinated drink.
We take caffeine first because we are thinking ahead for how that will kick in with the momentum from the following steps. I shoot for 200–300mg of caffeine, with 100–150mg of theanine. Theanine is an amino acid found in tea and mushrooms, but it is widely available in pill form. Theanine helps to reduce the jitters and anxiety produced by caffeine, and caffeine + theanine makes for an incredibly effective combination.
2: 12 oz water
We all wake up dehydrated, and most of us spend the majority of our days in a state of constant dehydration. Dehydration can reduce exercise performance by up to 30%, and it certainly reduces cognitive performance as well. Chug a glass of water to begin the process of re-hydration.
3: 12 oz water, 3g himalayan sea salt, 7g lemon juice
Ok, that’s pretty precise. Not everybody has a digital scale in their kitchen. But an easy way to do it is add 1/2 tsp of Himalayan sea salt and 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice to a glass of water. Above and beyond waking up dehydrated, we also wake up with a lack of the essential vitamins and minerals that our brains need to operate. This is a simple concoction that will help you return to that optimal state, with easily accessible ingredients for low cost. You could also consider an electrolyte specific drink like Liquid IV or Pedialyte, but I think this is a great budget alternative, that costs less than 5 cents/ day rather than $1/day.
4: Cold water on your face
We’ve all heard of this, but we may not do it everyday. It helps me, and occasionally I even do an ice cube and rub it around on my face. The effect is the same.
5: Put on music and go to your workspace
Music has the power to amplify our productivity with no effort. But sometimes we forget that things like this help. Grab your headphones and start playing electronic music or binaural beats or non lyrical music that helps you to give your mind and body momentum. This is one where if you just do it, you’ll see absurd returns for the effort. Just don’t forget!
What we do most frequently for the longest duration is most critical to optimize. With the amount of time that we spend working, it is very powerful to optimize the start of that activity for peak mental performance.
It will pay off in productivity, with an added bonus that you’ll find yourself enjoying your work that much more.