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6 Ways Nonprofit Professionals Can Supercharge Their Morning Routine

There are two types of people—those who are morning people, and those who are not. But whether you wake up ready and raring to go or need a little coaxing to get out from under the duvet, taking small steps to improve your morning routine can set you up to make a bigger impact throughout the day.

Hal Elrod knows all about this. After the economic crash of 2008, he found himself struggling in terms of his career, finances, and health. To get himself out of this rut, he began researching the personal development practices of highly successful people, developing a morning routine (which he calls his “miracle morning”) around them. His new morning habits led to such a huge improvement in his overall well-being that he even began training for an ultramarathon.

As a busy nonprofit professional, it’s important to take time in the morning to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the day. The nonprofit world is unpredictable and each day brings new challenges and problems to solve. Luckily, Hal shared some of his secrets in his LinkedIn Learning course The Six Morning Habits of High Performers

Here are his top tips for starting your day on the right foot. 

1. Carve out some quiet time

Right when you wake up, designate some time for some peace and quiet. Whether you meditate or just sit quietly for about 10 minutes, this practice can help you center yourself and lower your stress levels. As a result, you’ll be able to step into the day with a clearer and calmer mindset. You may even find that new ideas come to you during this time. 

If you’re new to this kind of quiet contemplation, don’t worry about whether you’re doing it “right.” The important thing is to relax (but not too much—you don’t want to fall back asleep). As Hal says, “the benefits of spending time in silence will simply be amplified and deepened over time,” so even if it feels weird at first, stick with it. 

2. Develop affirmations that are focused on results

Affirmations are positive and motivating statements, and they can help you focus on who you are and who you want to be that day. Hal uses them a little differently than most. He recommends creating morning affirmations that are framed as commitments to achieving specific results. 

To craft your affirmations, identify what you’re committed to, why it’s meaningful, what activities will help you achieve the desired result, and when you’ll do those activities. That way, you can focus your intentions, so if you feel yourself going off track as the day progresses, it will easier to realign yourself with your goals. 

3. Visualize what success looks like

Visualizing what your day will look like is a good way to prepare yourself to overcome obstacles. For example, if you’re nervous about a virtual meeting with an important prospective donor, imagine yourself speaking confidently and compellingly on the call about your organization’s work. Imagine the donor nodding and agreeing that they want to help. Then, picture the positive end result: in this case, a generous donation that kickstarts a long-term partnership.

Try to make your visualizations as specific and detailed as possible, and don’t dwell on potential negative outcomes. The goal is to worry less about the task at hand—because the less anxious you are, the more likely you’ll be to navigate the situation successfully. 

4. Do a little exercise

An illustration of a woman doing yoga in her home while her dog sits on the sofa.

You don’t have to do an entire workout first thing in the morning (unless you want to), but doing some kind of exercise to wake up your mind and body will set you up for a more energized and productive day. 

This could be as simple as a minute of jumping jacks or squats, or you could follow a yoga routine on YouTube. If you already work out at a later point in the day, you don't need to move that up—just add on a few minutes in the morning to get your blood pumping!

5. Read something every day

Reading just five pages of a book a day adds up to 150 pages each month. That means you could read as many as a dozen books every year, depending on the length, just by dedicating a few minutes in the morning to reading. 

It could be the biography of an inspiring nonprofit pioneer, a book designed to teach you a new skill, or just a novel that your colleague recommended. Either way, it’s a great way to deepen your knowledge a little more every day, while also giving you something interesting to talk about at the virtual watercooler. 

6. Write things down

To start your day on a positive note, Hal recommends listing three things you’re thankful for. It could be the people in your life, your home, or the fact that your job allows you to make a difference in the world. This can make trying times feel more manageable, which is especially important right now.

After you’ve created this list, write down the three most important things you need to do that day. These should directly tie to your goals and the impact you hope to make. Hal says that by getting clear about priorities, he’s been able to make strong progress toward goals he previously didn’t think he could accomplish, so putting pen to paper can really pay off.

Improve your mornings, afternoons, and evenings

Taking even a few of these steps in the morning can make a big difference. Who knows, maybe you’ll even become a morning person! 

Whether you want to be more productive, learn a new skill, manage your stress better, or support your team’s growth and development, you can find thousands of expert-led courses on LinkedIn Learning. To learn more, get in touch with our team.

This post was based on the LinkedIn Learning Blog article “6 Morning Routine Habits Successful People Swear By,” authored by Rachel Parnes.