WHAT IS A GOOD MORNING ROUTINE
Have you ever had one of those mornings where you feel completely dis-organised, are running late and feel stressed? You probably went on to have a pretty bad day right?
Morning routines can be an antidote to the chaos. They help set your day up for success. An effective routine will put your mind in a really good place. And it will help you to be more productive. I had previously assumed drinking all of the coffee was a morning routine, but it turns out there is more too it.
In this article we’ll look at:
- What a routine is
- Why is doesn’t need to be anything arduous
- Some principles to follow to craft an effective morning routine
- How you can adapt it over time
A GOOD MORNING ROUTINE DOESN’T NEED TO BE EXTREME
You may have heard of some of the extreme morning routines followed by celebrities. Mark Wahlberg gets up at 2.30am to workout. Ex-Navy Seal Jocko Willink is famous for his daily 04.30am watch post on Instagram. So called ‘wellness experts’ have been promoting some pretty wacky stuff like drinking liquid charcoal, using ‘Human Chargers’ (look it up), and walking around outside barefooted.
The good news is you don’t need to undertake any of these drastic measures to get a head start on the day.
Benjamin Spall, the author of ‘My Morning Routine’, spent two years studying the morning routines of dozens of entrepreneurs, leaders and creative people. In the book he shares a number of tips on how you can get the most out of your morning. I’m going to give you the key recommendations.
Ben defines the morning routine period as the period of time between waking-up and starting your working day. There is no right or wrong way to fill this time, and there isn’t one routine that works for everyone. What he recommends is being intentional rather than rigid.
TOP TIPS FOR CREATING A GOOD MORNING ROUTINE
MAKE MORE TIME
Get up slightly earlier. You don’t need to be an early-riser but try getting up 5 minutes earlier than usual for a week.
START THE NIGHT BEFORE
Write a to-do list. Setting some objectives for the next day will make you far more productive. Using your email inbox as a to-do list does not allow you to move towards bigger goals. Don’t do this.
I’m going to share another blog about being more organised, so I won’t dwell on this. For now the key thing is to not write too many tasks down, and give them a level of priority (i.e. 1-3) so you can focus on achieving what is really important.
Get organised. Choose your clothes, make breakfast if this works for you (things like overnight oats can be prepped the day before), prepare anything else you need for the day.
It turns out that decision fatigue is a thing. There are a limited amount of decisions we can make each day and wasting energy on deciding what to eat in the morning will make you less effective.
Tidy up. Waking up to messy environment can make you stressed.
Get enough sleep! Get to bed early. Most people need between 7-9 hours sleep per night to function fully. Margaret Thatcher got by on 4 but annoyingly I need 9 hours! The best morning routine will count for nothing if you’re really tired.
Keep your phone out of the room. The blue light from electronic devices stimulates your brain and has been shown to make it harder to get to sleep. Having the phone by your bed is also a tempting distraction.
GET OUT OF BED AND DO THE SAME THING EVERY DAY
Do not check your phone and look at social media and emails when you wake up. You will go down a rabbit-hole and flood your brain with information too early. It can set the tone for a day of constantly checking social media, making you less focused.
Exercise Working out at any stage of the day is great for your physical and mental health. It releases endorphins that make you feel good. So doing this before work really sets you up for the day. It can be hard to get motivated but once you get into this habit it will be worth it.
Doing exercise first thing is not for everyone, but getting your workout done early means you are less likely to skip it. As the day goes on things like work, family or school can all get in the way. Plus you are likely to be less motivated and more tired by the end of the day.
Do something you enjoy like working on a side-project, or writing a journal. Getting your creative juices flowing can help put you in a good mood.
Consider some kind of meditation. This doesn’t mean sitting cross-legged humming to yourself. Just take a few minutes to relax your mind. Apps such as Headspace are really useful for clearing your head. A short rejuvenating walk outside can also achieve this. This has the added bonus of the natural blue-light from the sun helping to wake you up.
Make small, achievable changes. Try a few minutes of exercise, a few minutes of meditation etc. Then pick what works for you and do it for longer.
WORKING AROUND DISTRACTIONS
You can still win the morning if you have children. Just reduce your expectations. You’ll have less ‘me-time’ – but you can still get a lot of this stuff done. The key is identifying the things that work for you and fitting them in. Get up a few minutes earlier if needed.
Actually spending quality time with your children before starting your day can be really helpful and rewarding. It will achieve some of the principles mentioned above.
Travelling? Lots of these principles can be applied whilst away from home. You just need to adapt to your new environment and available facilities.
Some popular things that productive people do in the morning include:
- Taking a cold shower – this floods the body with adrenaline and makes you feel energised.
- Having a bullet proof coffee – the healthy fats from things like MCT Oil are a super-efficient source of energy that has a noticeable effect on cognitive function.
- Taking a nootropic supplement to help sharpen the mind and boost mood.
Morning routines can change over time and with changes in your life i.e. having children or changing jobs. Continually assess what works for you and adapt as you need.
Do not beat yourself up if you miss a day. These are just principles to follow to be more efficient. Missing a day does not matter!