It takes only 30 minutes and leaves me feeling refreshed and ready for the day.

Jessica Ball, M.S., RD
January 24, 2021
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Credit: Getty Images/Maria Kovalevskaya / EyeEm

Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where assistant nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two, and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.

I used to be a morning person. In college, my most productive hours were in the morning before my roommates woke up. But, full disclosure, I fell away from it in in the past year. It can be hard to keep a healthy work-life balance working from home. I routinely find myself waking up and wandering over to my desk to "check a few things." Next thing I know, it's 12pm and I haven't had anything to eat besides coffee and the morning has evaporated.

When there are not as clear of boundaries for the workday, I can become less focused and productive when I need to be. To help me find some normalcy, I started adding back in some structure to my morning that centers around when I make my coffee and I'm never looking back. This new routine has helped me be more productive and focused during my day, and has even helped me sleep better. Not to mention, it's all free.

Here are three things I am doing to form a "morning routine" that take only 30 minutes and help me start my day on the right foot.

Yoga

My preferred method of making coffee is to use my French press. For those of you that use a French press, you are probably familiar with the downtime associated with boiling the water and letting the coffee steep. A few weeks ago, I decided to do some light yoga and stretching while I waited for the water to boil. Since, this has become a refreshing staple of my mornings. It helps me get moving to start the day, which naturally helps boost your energy levels. It also keeps me from going immediately to my phone and checking work emails. Definitely worth the ten minutes while my water gets to the perfect coffee temp.

Meditation

After I pour the boiling water over the grounds in my French press, I have about five to ten minutes of waiting before it's ready to drink. Instead of scrolling or getting carried away at my computer, I have found that this is the perfect time to work in a quick meditation. I love the Headspace app. It's downloaded on my phone and is set to remind me to meditate every day at 8:30am. They have guided meditations for a variety of topics, some as quick as three minutes and others that can take up to 20 minutes. Practicing meditation can decrease stress, improve your focus and lower your blood pressure, plus it is a rewarding feeling to take time for yourself before diving into your to-do list. I usually do a ten minute meditation while I wait for my coffee to steep. Right now, I'm almost through their sleep health course and I would highly recommend it.

Reading

After my coffee is poured and ready to drink, I take the remaining 10 to 20 minutes before 9am hits to read a book. Reading was something I loved before grad school, but got out of the habit in the hustle and bustle of life… until last year. Getting through chapter each morning helps me stay consistent with my goal of reading more and lets me escape my apartment even if it's only for a few minutes. It also helps my brain wake up a bit before I start working, which helps me feel awake and focused as I approach my day. Aside from being really pleasant, a 2016 study found that reading might even increase longevity in people over 50 years old (and there's nothing wrong with getting an early start).

This whole routine takes about 30 to 40 minutes, so I can easily fit it in before I start my workday. It has helped me feel more accomplished beyond just getting my work done, and improves my clarity all day long. Since being consistent about doing this every day, I feel more focused and mentally healthier because I've taken some time for myself to start the day. If you are needing some help creating boundaries and structure working from home, give this free, quick and easy morning routine a try.