One of the benefits of working from home—not having to follow someone else’s schedule—can also be a drawback. When you don’t have an external influence giving structure to your days, it can be hard to stay focused and productive. Create an internal structure with a morning ritual and take control of your day before it takes control of you.

1. Try to wake up without an alarm.

It’s incredible how good it feels to wake up on your own. Often, alarms interrupt the deepest part of your sleep, leaving you groggy. When you let your body’s internal clock wake you, you feel alert because you were ready.

In order to do this, you’ll need to go to bed at a consistent time in the evening. Before you fall sleep, tell yourself what time you want to wake up. I say, “I intend to sleep deeply and wake at 7 a.m. feeling rested and refreshed.” If you’re concerned about oversleeping, go ahead and set your alarm for a little after your target time, as insurance.

Of course, if you’re sleep-deprived, this will be difficult. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Determine what time you want to arise, then count back about seven to nine hours from there to see when you need to be in bed. If that bedtime is earlier than usual for you, approach it gradually by going to bed fifteen minutes earlier each night.

It may take a while to figure out your optimum sleep schedule, but stick with it. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel when you follow your body’s natural rhythms.

2. If you use an alarm, don’t hit the snooze button.

This can actually make you feel more sluggish, and getting up at the last minute makes you feel rushed. How you begin the day affects the rest of it. When you start off out of control, you’ll be frazzled all day.

3. Resist the urge to check email or your phone first thing.

You want to get centered and decide your own agenda for the day, before you expose yourself to outside influences.

Author and coach Patricia Charpentier says, “If I get sucked into checking email first, I’m gone. Then I’m in multitasking mode and I’m hopping from thing to thing. A set practice helps me focus on one item at a time. I’m more mindful of my choices and where I’m putting my time and energy.”

Painter and creativity coach Tracy Verdugo says, “I used to wake up and think about work right away, which was stressful. Now I’ve created this habit of being thankful first thing instead, and it’s a much better way to start the day.”

Plus, looking at the news or social media can make you feel tense and anxious. It’s much more beneficial to feel good, which leads to tip #4.

4. Do something that makes you happy.

Carve out space between awakening and getting to work to do something just for you. I know, it feels decadent to focus on yourself first, and your to-do list is more than a mile long. But taking this time will make you calmer, happier, and more productive. A morning ritual is like a charging station. Just like your phone, you can’t operate with a drained battery. A morning ritual recharges you every day.

It also allows you to set the tone for your day. Life coach Anna Kunnecke says, “My morning ritual gives me a chance to clear my mind of everyone else’s priorities for me. I’m not being shaped by the forces around me; I’m shaping my world from my mind and heart.”

The activity you choose isn’t important. What’s important is that it brings you joy. Meditate, do yoga, journal, paint, take a walk, talk to a friend, dance to your favorite song—whatever puts you in a positive mindset. It doesn’t need to be complex or time-consuming. There is power in simplicity.

And another benefit: a morning ritual provides space for insight and clarity to come to you. If you’re wrestling with a problem or trying to come up with new ideas for your business, your ritual will open the channel for creativity.

Life coach Carla Robertson also uses rituals to transition into her work time. This can be a great way to make that mental shift from “off duty” to “on duty.”

5. OK, now you can look at your to-do list.

Before you settle into work, take a moment to review your list and decide what is most important. Kunnecke does this as part of her morning ritual. She says, “I update my Daily Compass, a tool I created, which is a map of my day. I plug in appointments, block out work time, and plan my entire day in advance. Then I identify my top priority for the day—the one thing I must get done.” This helps ensure that you’ll stay on track all day.

Take charge of your mornings with these tips, and set yourself up for success!


  • Ashley Ellington Brown

    Award-winning Author and Expert on Morning Rituals

    Ashley Ellington Brown is author of the multiple-award-winning guide A Beautiful Morning: How a Morning Ritual Can Feed Your Soul and Transform Your Life. She also authors the blog Joy Detectives. A freelance writer for more than twenty years, she has been published in Yoga Journal, Thrive Global, The Daily Positive and the anthology Song of Ourself: Voices in Unison. Brown’s own morning ritual inspired her to write A Beautiful Morning in order to share this powerful tool with others.