When I was a teenager, my mom would literally have to drag me out of bed in the mornings. I’d take a quick shower and then dry my long hair by sticking my head out the window as I raced to school in my little red VW.

So to say I’m a natural morning person would be untrue. But I have trained myself to BE a morning person and I now really enjoy getting up early and getting a jumpstart on my day.

Mornings can be a tough part of the day for a lot of people. We don’t want to get up, and most of us certainly don’t want to go to work. But mornings are important. A good morning is the most important step to ensuring that you have a good day. If you stumble out of bed, shower, get dressed, and rush out the door with a cup of coffee, you’re not setting the stage for a productive day.

An effective day starts with an effective morning. You can’t be rushed and be at your best.

Get your day off to a good start:

1. Make a to-do list the night before. You can’t get your morning off to the best start if you don’t know what you have planned for the day. Do you need to wear a tie or skirt instead of your normal wardrobe choices? If you know what’s on tap, you can get your mind in the right place. Know how you’re going to spend your day by making a will-do list.

2. Drink a large glass of water. After a night of sleep, you’re dehydrated. So when you wake up, your body craves water. Consider avoiding caffeine first thing. It can be hard on your body. If you’re too tired in the mornings, try going to bed earlier rather than depend on coffee to wake you up. (But, if you’re like me, you love your morning coffee. Just drink some water first.)

3. Take a walk. Put on your running shoes and head outdoors. The treadmill is another option especially if the weather is bad. Feel free to run if the urge strikes you. A morning walk is a great way to wake up and clear your mind. You’ll feel great and get a jump on your day.

Any form of exercise is acceptable, provided you feel better at the conclusion than you did at the beginning. Now isn’t the time to wear yourself out. You should feel invigorated at the end. Find the best form of exercise for you. Walking is it for me. I love to walk.

4. Have a good breakfast. A good breakfast should make you feel good and provide the nutrition you require until lunchtime. You already know which foods are healthy and which aren’t. Make a few wise choices and note how you feel during the morning.

Continue experimenting with different food combinations until you find one that works best for you. I know a guy who eats exactly the same thing for breakfast every day of his life. I personally like a little variety. Try keeping a few boiled eggs in the fridge. An egg makes a great way to get protein first thing and eggs are good for you. Make breakfast easy on you.

5. Recite affirmations. You can say affirmations while in the shower, exercising, or driving to work. Find a time that works for you and be consistent. Use affirmations that address the challenging areas of your life. The things we say to ourselves repeatedly become the truth.

Another way of looking at affirmations is to follow the formula of “afFORmations” as taught by Noah St. John. His theory is that if an affirmation sounds like a lie to us it loses it’s effectiveness. Find the way that works for you. Either affirmations or afformations.

6. Get up earlier than necessary. If you start your morning behind schedule, you’re not able to take control of your morning. It’s much more enjoyable to spend your morning without the pressure of being on time. Go to bed earlier and get the sleep you require.

It may take you awhile to get used to getting up early but you may find, like I have, that those first 2 or 3 hours alone in the mornings are pure bliss.

7. Be prepared to deal with your most important task first. This should be easy, since you made a will-do list the night before. Know your most important task and be prepared to face it head-on. Our resources are at full capacity earlier in the day. We start to run out of gas by the afternoon. Put your resources where they can do the most good. Have a plan and get busy.

Of course, the other side of this is if you are motivated by wins, then do something easy and simple first so you can cross it off your list. That alone will give you an adrenaline rush and will make it easy to get on with the harder stuff.

Life can be hectic for sure. You’re not helping the situation by crawling out of bed at the last possible moment and eating a donut on the way to work — even if your commute is just from your bedroom to your office.

A good morning increases the odds of having a good day overall. Give yourself the time in the morning to gather your thoughts and prepare properly for the day ahead. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish before work starts.