As much as we would all like an additional hour in the day, there are definitely only 24 of them…at least a quarter of which you’ll be asleep. This means that the hours you’re awake are precious, and it pays to be as productive as possible with your time.

The problem is, many stumble from their bed, haphazardly eat breakfast half asleep, and turn up at the office still thinking about the warm duvet they left behind. You’ve already wasted several hours of productive time that could be used to fuel a plan for the day ahead…even if it is in your pyjamas. Take a leaf from the books of those uber productive among us, and try doing these five things before breakfast for one week; we promise it’ll make a huge difference to your day.

Get Up Early

You might be tempted to roll past this one with no intentions of ever trying it, but the secret to a productive work day can lie with simply getting up earlier…even by just half an hour. In doing so, you’re awake before the rest of the household providing you with a little bit of ‘me’ time to get yourself sorted for the day ahead, plan your goals and check out your calendar. Wake up at the same time as everyone else, and you’ll be helping get the kids dressed/fed/off to school or involved in some household task or another without even a second thought to your work schedule. Those extra minutes can make all the difference. Psychologist Jeremy Dean said in recent research that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so give it a small amount of time and it will be worth it.

Exercise

Exercising before breakfast comes with a long list of benefits. It’s easy to put it off when you come home from work on an evening, so getting it done before the sun is even up enables you to tick it off your list, and can actually make you more prepared for the day ahead. Exercise wakes you up and can reduce stress during the day, something that is often needed in a busy day to day environment. It also prevents you from snacking on unhealthy food at your desk and on the go; if you’re getting up early to exercise your body, those sugary treats are going to seem less tempting. Your energy levels will also improve daily from just half an hour of activity.

Check Email

There’s various opinions about when you should actually check your email on a morning. Personally I find checking it before actually ‘getting’ to my desk officially gives me a good start to the day, and various others agree. You can prioritize what needs an answer that morning, what tasks you need to delegate and what needs to be acted on. If you leave emails until you arrive at the desk, you’re timing it with everyone else’s arrival which can lead to a stream of phone calls, additional emails and people arriving at your desk inviting you to meetings and so forth. Check in early and it’s a weight off your mind.

Set Your Goals

Whether you’re a list-orientated person or not, each day you need goals to obtain for the end of the day to have a successful day. Turning up and seeing where the day takes you can lead to projects getting delayed, emails left unanswered and you generally feeling a little disorganized. By taking time on a morning pre-cereal or toast, you can take a look at your list of long term priorities and projects and define a goal for that day that will help you towards an end-project. In doing so, your day immediately becomes more structured; you can plan your goals around meetings, block your calendar if you need an intensive hour on a particular assignment, and have a satisfied feeling at the end of the day that you achieved what you set out to do. Even if you didn’t quite get something as completed as you hoped, at least you had the plan in place; without it, you might not have even started that work at all.

Check Your Industry

It goes without saying that you need to keep up with industry news, but there isn’t always time for it during the day. Instead, make a little time for it before your morning coffee; check in with industry blogs, news websites and see what the latest broadcast is. Even just ten minutes of glancing between articles can give insight into what’s happened in the last day or so. It’ll make you stay ahead of the game and enable you to keep a focused head for the day ahead of you, all before you’ve had your morning meal.