Are you not a morning person? For most, the angry alarm clock, rushed shower, and stressful commute doesn’t help to put us in the best mindset for creativity or problem solving. As Annie Murphy Paul explains, it’s because we’ve doing it all wrong this whole time.

Here’s your new morning routine:

1. Lie awake in bed for a little bit after hitting your alarm or give yourselves extra time in the shower (while avoiding task-oriented thinking, like what emails you need to respond to first).

In a study published in the journal Thinking and Reasoning, researchers Mareike Wieth and Rose Zacks reported that imaginative insights are most likely to come to us when we’re groggy and unfocused.

2. Before sitting down, grab yourself some caffeine.

Caffeine not only makes us more alert, as we all know—it also increases the brain’s level of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that influences feelings of motivation and reward when we hit on a great idea.

3. And finally, before you even look at your inbox or the piles of memos on your desk, watch this first:

study published in the journal Psychological Science found that subjects who watched brief video clips that made them feel sad were less able to solve problems creatively than people who watched an upbeat video. A positive mood, wrote researcher Ruby Nadler and her co-authors, increases “cognitive flexibility,” while a negative mood narrows our mental horizons.

For a complete list of the steps leading to a creativity-primed morning, read the rest here.

  • Hamish Atkinson

    Man, this is so true (spending time in the shower half asleep). My mind absent-mindedly turns over problems I was struggling with the day before, and often offers up great solutions. In fact, I often lose track of the task in hand (washing) and end up washing the same leg two or three times.

  • Chuck

    I do exactly this every day. Even though I could get up, dressed and out the door in under 30 minutes, I give myself one hour before I leave for work, taking time in the shower (where all of my best ideas come from) have coffee and breakfast and listen to the morning news before making my lunch and heading out.

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