You all know about that morning-routine thing: Everyone raves that waking up early and sticking to your routine will help you get more done. But whether you get out of bed at 5 a.m. or 3 p.m., it's the first 20 minutes of your day that can set you up for success.
The brain produces electrical patterns, often referred to as waves. Scientists have found a correlation between the frequency of brain waves and the body's state. When you first awake, your brain operates at around 10.5 waves per second. The range from eight to 13 Hz, or cycles per second, is the alpha stage. It's been called the gateway to the subconscious mind.
Have you ever gone into a semi-daydreaming state while commuting? A few minutes pass, but you don't remember what happened. It's likely your brain entered the alpha state.
Without getting too deep into the science of brain activity, it's safe to say your subconscious mind is most active right when you wake up. You can train your brain to use this subconscious activity to think positively and accomplish more throughout your day. This quick checklist outlines six simple things you can do to make the most of these first 20 minutes.
1. Don't click the snooze button.
Don't ever click your alarm's snooze button. This tells your brain it's OK to procrastinate by putting your day on hold.
2. Do make your bed.
Your room will look cleaner and feel more organized -- both of which train your mind to want to get things done, right away. It's a small win, but you can build on it as your day continues.
3. Visualize your life.
This is probably the best thing you can do in the alpha state. Visualize your life. What will it be in five years, when you've achieved your goal of building your business? How about your relationships? Concentrate on how they'll look in the future and what you need to make them real. Tap into your subconscious mind to request what you want and then make your brain drive your actions.
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4. Watch a motivational video.
When you're up, not even a tough day can get you down. If you're truly motivated, you know you'll reach your milestones -- no matter what.
Big achievements are never easy. During the past year, I've found inspiration in quick-hit videos that help me refocus when I start to burn out between work and my studies. After you complete your visualization exercise, watch a video that reinforces the connection between intention and action steps.
5. Repeat your affirmations.
Simple affirmations such as "I will make this day the best day in my life" can have a huge impact on your life. It worked for Steve Jobs. First, compile a list of affirmations that fit your beliefs and core values. Repeat them aloud every morning.
6. Keep a journal.
During the past year, I intentionally developed several habits to become more mindful. Keeping a journal ranks near the top of the list in terms of impact on my life.
You can use a journal to write down some of your affirmations, spread positive thinking and plan your day through these "morning pages." Clear your mind of any thoughts that may interrupt your focus.
This story first appeared on Entrepreneur.com.