Having the right morning routine is crucial if you want to have a truly productive day. Hal Elrod, author or The Miracle Morning says that: “How you wake up every day and your morning routine dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life”. By creating a healthy and productive morning routine, you set the stage for a highly effective and efficient day. Think about the last time you had a really productive day where you achieved a lot – did you wake up late? Was your morning routine rushed and chaotic? Probably not. Some people scoff when I say that having the right morning routine is one of the best things you can do to boost your overall productivity. Other people will say something like: “I do my best work at night, there's no point getting up early”.
To give you an idea, here's what my morning routine looks like:
5:00am – Alarm goes off, no snoozing, get up and put on my gym gear.
5:05am – Coffee in hand I sit down to start work. My objective for the next 30 minutes was determined the night or even days before, so I can get started straight away.
5:35am – Time for a 20 minute meditation session using Headspace.
5:55am – Back to my desk to finish up any loose ends, review my calendar and get ready to leave the house.
6:15am – Get into the car and drive to the gym.
6:30am – I begin a 45 minute workout with a mix of resistance and cardio.
7:15am – Jump in the shower and drive to work.
7:45am – Arrive at work, have breakfast and a smoothie.
8:00am – Continue with the rest of my day. Feeling satisfied after another awesome morning.
I'm going to challenge you – if you think you're a night owl or if don't have a properly thought out morning routine, I want you to follow the 3 simple steps below and see what impact this has on your life.
1. GET UP EARLY
Lets start with what time to get up. I've already written about why getting up early (I'm talking 5-6am) is hyper-productive. I'm a big fan of the early start and getting up early is one of the most common traits among the worlds top performers and high achievers. The benefits of being an early riser are:
1) It helps you start your day with purpose. By getting up early and having a pre-planned morning routine, you're starting your day with real purpose. Contrast this to lying in bed hitting snooze over and over. When you do this, you're effectively saying you don't want to wake up to your life. By getting up straight away and starting your morning routine, you bring a real sense of purpose and meaning to your day. This is a huge psychological boost and a great way of getting your mind in the right space before you carry on with the rest of your day.
2) You can get in some uninterrupted work time. Working from 5-6am is one of the only times of the day that you can almost guarantee that you won't be distracted, making it the perfect time to work on something that requires your full attention.
3) You maximise your mental power. Decision fatigue is the reduction in brain power that you experience throughout the day as you start to make decisions about what to wear, what to work on next, what to eat for lunch and so on. By getting up early and working on something productive you can maximise the use of this mental power. That 5-6am block of time in my calendar is one of the most productive times of day.
4) It's the perfect time to tackle your most important goals. With your brain power maximised and no distractions around you this is the perfect time to work on your most important goal for the day. Then, should you get distracted later on, or if a crisis hits that requires your attention, you can deviate from your schedule knowing that you've already ticked off your most important goal for the day.
5) It's natural. Humans aren't meant to work late into the night. It messes with your circadian rhythm and throws off your bodies natural production and secretion of melatonin (the sleep hormone). Getting up early is much more natural and conducive to increasing and sustaining your energy levels.
2. SET YOUR AGENDA THE NIGHT BEFORE
I hope you can now appreciate why getting up early is so productive. Now it's time to work on something worthwhile and use this newly discovered time more effectively. We've already touched on the idea of decision fatigue which highlights the need to set your agenda and goals the day before. If you're going to go to the effort of waking up early, you don't want to spend the first 10-15 minutes of your day working out what to do. It's important that you plan how you're going to use your morning the night before. So for me, I like to get up at 5:00 am, make a coffee and then spend the next 30 minutes working on my number one goal for the day. I make sure that I already know what I'm going to do so that I can get straight into it without wasting time or energy. Because I plan my weeks in advance, not only do I have a clear idea of how I'm going to spend the next morning, but I've planned the next 2,3, 4 or even 5 mornings. How this works is on a Sunday I'll work out the 2-3 main goals I want to focus on and use that to plan the smaller tasks that I'm going to address each morning.
Not only does planning your morning like this maximise the use of your mental energy, but it's a great way of adding purpose to your day as we discussed above. When my alarm goes off, if there's ever a temptation to sleep in I know that this will throw off my entire weekly plan. Most mornings when the alarm goes off I wake up feeling excited because I'm about to work on something important and conducive towards my goals. I haven't used the snooze button in ages and strongly recommend you start doing the same.
3. GET YOUR MIND AND BODY IN THE RIGHT SPACE
Meditation is quickly becoming a mainstream practice and is incredibly beneficial to your productivity. There's more and more evidence to support the health benefits associated with being more mindful and practicing meditation is one of the most common traits found among the world's top-performers. Incorporating even just 10 minutes of meditation into your morning routine is one of the most beneficial things you can do to improve your productivity. Sitting down to be mindful like this is like hitting the reset button and a great way of starting your day with a clean canvas to work from. I like to meditate for about 20 minutes after I've done about 30 minutes of work. The only reason I don't do this first thing is that I find I'm better able to focus on the exercise once I've finished my coffee. I use a guided meditation app called Headspace which takes you through a program of sessions and introduces new techniques slowly over time. Headspace isn't spiritual or religious in any way and because it's guided, it's easy to follow along without your mind wandering off (too much).
Incorporating some form of exercise into your morning routine is another one of those great things you can do to set yourself up for success. Getting regular exercise (whether it's in the morning or not) will help boost your energy levels meaning you don't hit that mid-afternoon lull. I enjoy exercising in the morning as a way of physically and mentally preparing myself for the day. I also use this time to listen to Podcasts and because working out doesn't require huge amounts of attention, I can really absorb the information I'm listening to.
And there you have it – three simple steps for creating a healthy and productive morning routine. So here's your challenge:
- Over the next week, implement at least one of the above steps into your morning routine. You can either download Headspace and start meditating for 10 minutes each morning, get up early to do something productive or if you don't already, incorporate some form of exercise into your morning routine.
- Take small steps. Don't try and change your world all at once. Make your goal for the week to introduce one tip from above.
- After you've successfully implemented that tip, try adding another into your routine.
- Keep tweaking your morning routine. It's going to be unique to you fit it around your lifestyle.
- Let me know in the comments how you get on and if you have any morning routine rituals that I need to try.
Good luck and have a productive day!