Morning routines are often touted as the key to a successful day and as an extension of that, a successful life. There are countless articles out there about the morning routines of successful CEOs, stars and celebrities, but is there really anything we can learn from them or is it all just bullsh*t?
Well, I don’t think having a good morning routine is going to suddenly turn you into a superstar overnight, but I’ve come to believe that a solid routine made up of high-value activities can be hugely beneficial to your life over time.
What is a morning routine?
First of all, what do we mean when we talk about a “morning routine”?
There’s nothing particularly special or mythical about it.
A morning routine is simply the stuff you always do as soon as you wake up. The routine is made up of the habits you perform each and every day, consciously or subconsciously, as soon as you get up in preparation for the rest of your day.
The thing is, what you may not realize is that how you manage that time can have a huge impact not only on your day ahead, but on your life as a whole.
Think about that for a second.
What is your morning routine like currently? Do you get out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off and get down to some reading, exercise or writing your To-Do List for the day?
Or are you someone that beats the crap out of the snooze button several times before succumbing to the reality that you’re going to be desperately late to the office if you don’t stumble out of bed and get ready the next time the alarm does off?
Check out this post: How To Beat The Snooze Button
Do you sit down to a leisurely breakfast while contemplating the day ahead?
Or are you someone that leaves the house still getting dressed and stuffing a piece of toast in your mouth as you close the door?
We all have different routines in the morning. Some will have routines that are making life better and others will have morning habits that are actually hindering them getting the most out of life.
They say that the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day and after having become far more conscious of what I do in the mornings myself, I have come to agree with this. So it kind of seems logical to develop the habit of making your mornings count.
The ‘morning person’ mindset
In the same way that we’ve been conditioned to “hate Mondays”, many of us go through life claiming we are not morning people.
Check out this post: How To Get More Out Of Mondays
But ‘being a morning person’ is not some trait that is set in stone. Being a morning person is simply a mindset. Anyone can be a morning person.
And that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to be up before the sun rises. Circumstances are different for everyone. Late nights, kids, socializing, work shifts – the things that you having going on in your life will affect what time you can get up in the morning.
But it’s not just about what time you wake up, it’s about getting up earlier than you might do otherwise in order to get a jump on the day or do something that improves your life.
Most people are actually at their most productive in the morning hours.
One of the beautiful things about early mornings for me is that the time is mine. It feels as though I actually own it. It’s a relatively short, but special period of quiet “me time”.
The quiet atmosphere is my opportunity to reflect on the new possibilities that await in the day ahead and put myself in the right frame of mind to achieve all my goals.
And I have to say that I personally find that there is a very powerful energy in the early morning.
Maybe it is just the fact that it is quiet and I have time to myself.
Maybe it’s the light.
Or maybe it’s because I have had a good night’s sleep and my batteries feel recharged.
I’m not really sure, but I just know I like it.
So, before you write yourself off as “not a morning person”, I urge you to give it a go. It really is just a case of forming a habit.
What to do in the mornings?
Ok, so you’ve committed to getting up a bit earlier in the mornings. What are you going to do with that extra time? How can you use it to your maximum benefit?
That all depends on your goals, so if you are clear on those, it will make things easier.
A lot of people say that eating a good breakfast is an important part of a morning routine, but I am not sure I necessarily agree. It may be if you plan to plough fields all day, but the average office worker’s energy expenditure doesn’t require a huge amount of calories and there are plenty of people thriving on an intermittent fasting schedule, so for me, it’s just one of those sayings that get passed down by your Granny and shared without any real scrutiny, like fake news on Twitter.
Some people would eat breakfast, but always end up skipping it because they hit snooze too often and never have time to eat before work.
But again, it may be that you function better with a good breakfast inside you, so you need to work out what is best for you and prioritise your mornings accordingly.
My wife and I are now in the fortunate position that we can work from home, so having a structured and productive morning is really important. I find that I can focus well up until about 2 pm and so push the tasks that require less attention into the period after that.
I wake up at 6 am, which gives me time to do 30 mins of stretching/yoga/exercises, plus some reflection on the tasks and challenges ahead for the day.
Then I prepare breakfast before everyone else wakes just before 7 am. We then eat breakfast as a family before doing the school run and heading back home to do a few chores (putting on some washing, quick tidy-up). I then get stuck into my task list and my first Pomodoro of the day by 08.45 am.
Check out this post: What Is The Pomodoro Technique?
If I were still office-based, the only difference would be that I would move the chores to the evening and travel straight to the office after dropping the kids off at school. I would still get up early enough to do the morning exercise and the reflection, because I have found that it adds real value to my life and sets me up for a productive day.
The morning, for me, is definitely my most productive part of the day, simply because mentally and physically I seem to be at high to peak levels. It’ also because of the fact I have created the habit of a daily routine, so my mind and body expect to perform well at that time of day.
The best way to structure your morning involves some very generic advice, plus the things that are in line with your own personal goals.
For example, if eating more healthily is a major goal, it makes sense to include perhaps planning and preparing healthy meals and drinking smoothies, or whatever your preferred choice of healthy breakfasts happens to be.
Quick Tips For A Good Morning Routine
Here are five useful and actionable tips I have found that have helped me to establish a good morning routine.
1. Be clear on your goals
There are a million and one different ways you could use your mornings, but the best way to use the time is by doing activities related to your overall goals.
What don’t you seem to have for during the day, but would like to dedicate some time to, given the opportunity? Reading, exercise, learning a new skill, crafts, learning a language, listening to music, studying for a qualification . . .
So many options.
Getting up just thirty minutes earlier each day gives you an extra fifteen hours a month to dedicate to self-improvement. That’s massive!
If you are clear on what you want to achieve, it makes getting much easier because now you have a good reason to get up.
2. Plan the night before
Be clear on what your schedule is in the morning. Being ready to jump straight into whatever great, productive activities you have planned without thinking about it will make it easier to get up and at ’em.
If it is exercise you’re doing, have your kit laid out and ready.
If you’re doing some work on your computer, make sure you know what you’re doing the night before. Don’t get up in the morning and then sit down at your laptop and go, “Hmm, what should I work on now?”
Also, don’t multi-task or spend time on anything else, other than the task you have planned to work on.
Preparing for a productive morning should be part of your evening routine.
3. Sleep rhythms
Getting a sufficient amount of sleep, but also waking up at the right part of your sleep cycle will make it much easier to get out of bed in the morning.
Winding down properly at the end of the day by developing a good evening routine can help your sleep quality.
Check out this post: Tips For Productive Evening Routines
4. Do not hit snooze
Get out of the habit of hitting snooze. It provides no value and is kind of pointless when you think about it. Actually, it may even be bad for you. Read more in the post linked below.
Check out this post: How To Beat The Snooze Button
5. Start with an easy task
There is a well-known productivity strategy that says you should start your day by ‘eating a frog‘, which is a metaphor for your most important task that you least want to do. However, when you’re just getting started with a new morning routine, it is probably better to start off with some easy tasks to build momentum and satisfaction.
You’re looking to create a habit here, so don’t bite off too much too early, because that is one sure way to sabotage your attempt at building a solid routine.
Once you’re established, you can look more seriously at eating frogs.
Check out this post: Eat That Frog! Book Review
Time Hack Hero Takeaway
What you do in the morning can definitely set the tone for your whole day. From personal experience, I can confidently say that when I have a productive morning, I’ve had a productive day.
Having a good morning routine puts me in the right frame of mind for the day and I always find it much easier to remain productive throughout the day, in contrast to those (increasingly rare) days when maybe I wake up late and miss my morning exercises and reflection.
If you don’t currently have any particular routine in the morning, other than falling out of bed and grabbing a slice of toast before heading out the door for work, I recommend you try to structure something more productive and see if it makes a difference to your life.
If it doesn’t, no harm done – go back to your old ways, safe in the knowledge that the whole morning routine thing is a bunch of crap.
But what if it works and makes a big difference to your days?
What if . . . ? 🙂
[Featured image credit / Pxhere]