Have you ever got to the end of the day and felt like you got nothing done despite feeling busy all day? Or perhaps you had lots of things you were going to start but never got around to?
I feel you. We’ve all been there.
Wanna do something about it?
I did and the solution is simple.
A morning routine.
If you are looking to kick-start your productivity, your creativity or even just return to a place of well being, then getting up an hour earlier and introducing a morning routine is my recommendation for you.
You’ve got questions though, haven’t you?
I love my morning routine and it’s really helped me to get some things done that I can’t find time for at other times of the day, and also to create a bit of “me” time.
But you’re not a morning person, right?
Undoubtedly, if asked, I would say I was not a morning person. I don’t like noise or people around in the morning. You won’t find me jumping out of bed with enthusiasm but I’m not pressing the snooze button either. I now get up at the same time every week day morning because I had planned to do so and so I will. I’ve got stuff I want to do. Okay, so occasionally my accountability partner (the husband) gives me a kick to make sure I get up (and so he can – maybe – go back to sleep).
So what do we do with this extra hour?
Well, that really depends on what you are trying to achieve in your day, but Robin Sharma, in his book the 5am Club, says the first hour of the day should follow the 20-20-20 rule “20 minutes of movement, 20 minutes of mindfulness, 20 minutes of learning”.
In fact, many proponents of the morning routine would agree, but what you include is entirely down to you. For me, movement is yoga after I’ve brushed my teeth, but Amy Landino even counts brushing teeth and moisturising your face as movement. For you it could be a walk, with or without the dog, or a visit to the gym.
Wait “5am Club”? Thought it was only an hour earlier?
Well, Sharma believes that you should get up before the sun rises and there are many influential business leaders who follow this practice but many of those also have the luxury of office work, work from home or are able to influence their own working hours in some way.
If 5am works for you, then do that. If it doesn’t, then don’t. Clearly, if you work an evening shift, a 5am start after arriving home at 11pm hasn’t given you enough sleep time. Getting adequate sleep is as influential to your productivity and creativity as your morning routine is.
Why go to bed early to get up early instead of sticking with your normal routine?
We’re not just talking about a plan of bathing, eating and dressing here – although clearly those things need to get done at some point (even if right now it’s just fresh pyjamas). The real benefit of a morning routine is being able to start the day as we mean to go on and creating a focused mindset.
We’re talking about waking up to the world slowly instead of being thrown into the distractions of email, news, social posts, and, well, other people.
We’re talking about starting the day in such a way that we are inspired to do more and end the day with a satisfied smile.
When we wake up to a new day it’s like our brains have been reset. We need a reminder of what is going on and getting in there with our thoughts first puts those things to the front of the list. In the evening you are likely ruminating on a conversation you had or a TV programme you watched and, night owl or not, your brain is getting ready for a rest.
Mindfulness, then. Like meditation?
Yes, if that suits you. Perhaps though you would prefer, as Landino does, to do some “stream of consciousness” writing, just writing everything down that comes into your head. This is of the kind as introduced by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way. (Side note: I haven’t read this book but it seems popular and I like to write in this way myself and have found it helps to get ideas out of my head).
Some other suggestions in this category are morning prayers, gratitude journals and affirmations. However, you may just want to focus on your creativity and work on your book or do some knitting, painting or brainstorming.
So that leaves learning…
Yep, and here you’ll be wanting to focus on improving knowledge of the topics that help you with your creative side or will assist in your becoming a master of your trade. You might do some online courses, or just read a book, or perhaps some research to support your job or hobby.
Does your morning routine always have to be in that order?
In short, no. You need to fit it to your needs and your cognitive functions in the morning. I like to do yoga first as it helps me to wake up. Then I feel ready to do some freeform writing before reading today’s page of The Daily Stoic (By Ryan Holiday), and then I may do some reading around topics for inclusion in a future blog post, or perhaps I will put a blog post together. I like to review today’s tasks before heading off to breakfast and then some of my learning time will actually spill over into my breakfast time, as I may listen to a podcast or YouTube video whilst preparing it.
Sounds like hard work?
If it was that easy to get up early in the morning we’d all be doing it already right? The point is, it isn’t always easy. Amy Landino, in her book Good Morning Good Life, urges us to defy those obstacles that prevent us from even attempting it. List them out, work them out of your life or work with them.
Start one step at a time. Set the alarm a little earlier than usual on the first day and get used to it. Then, as you slowly start to increase the time, make sure you have a good reason for getting up early. You might just want to soak in the bath, or paint your nails, or read a book. That’s all good too. My advice though? There’s no point getting up early and then sitting and scrolling social media though. You may as well stay in bed.
Be sure to plan ahead though. A good morning routine is also about having the right evening routine to support your efforts. Make sure you have everything you need to create that watercolour, that you have space on the desk or table to write, and that you already know what’s for breakfast. Leave decisions out of your morning. That’s definitely a complication, and we don’t like that round here.
What helps you with your productivity? What do you do with your mornings? Share in the comments
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