I have a confession to make: I’m addicted. Addicted to routines.
The reason for this is simply: Because it works.
I work pretty well with routines and I like working, so routines give me some kind of structure to hold myself onto (I’m very chaotic, but when I need to get stuff done, I need a routine). I am more productive, when I’m doing my daily routines.
Since a lot of people have been asking me about my morning routine, I finally decided to write some details down.
This is by no means complete and/or static. I switch up my morning routine regularly and try to optimize it where I can, so this is just a current snapshot of my routine.
Let’s get started
You snooze, you lose
A very important, and frankly the only real, trick to have a morning routine, is duh, getting up early.
I’m a big believer that people should generally get up earlier, mainly because it is the perfect time to either have “me time” and focus on yourself or focus on certain hobbies or passions of yours and advance there.
Why get up early though? The thing with early mornings is, chances are, you’re alone in the morning. Whether you have kids, a partner or live alone, everything is more quiet in the mornings. And quiet means more productivity for you and your goals.
People who woke up or are getting prepared (even if it’s just your neighbours) are making noise and noise can be distracting if you’re focused on your daily morning routine.
When you get up at 5am or 6am, nobody is awake, but a few people who won’t disturb you anyway.
So there is a general calm in the morning and it’s a really interesting feeling. You probably felt it when you had to get up for an early flight once and realized: “It’s so quiet!”
Getting up early is worth it:
“Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” by Benjamin Franklin
There are tons of successful people who get up early, so you might be a snooze button away from your own success!
The trick however, to actually get up is even simpler than just getting up early: Lose the snooze, because when you snooze you lose (Yes, I had to think for 5min. for this word combination. Yes, I’m proud of it.)
I consistently got up at like 6am every day before I introduced a snooze button to my life, via my iPhone.
The snooze button is that sneaky thing that seems like your friend and pretends to give you 5 more minutes of sleep, when it actually fast-forwards the time and gives you like 10 seconds of sleep (at least it feels like it, and I can’t be the only one who thinks this!).
Most of the time you’re even more sleepy after the first snooze, because science has shown that those additional 5-15 minutes of sleep are not really usable by your body.
You’re confusing your body by telling it “actually you should get up”, but you continue to sleep.
And 99% of the time, you oversleep or sleep too long so that you can’t really have a proper morning routine.
My suggestion is to lose the snooze button entirely: Remove any chance of hitting the snooze button the night before, so you have to get up. Less snooze, more productivity.
An other alternative: Put your phone or alarm so far away that you actually have to get up to shut it off.
Now the actual hack here is to not get back to the bed, because it’s a trap! You think it’s a good idea and that you’re awake anyway, so you stagger back to bed and lay down for 2 minutes. BOOM it’s already 7:30 and you haven’t done anything yet. Snooze time continuum has struck again!
So I repeat this again:
- Set the alarm far away from your bed
- Get up and turn off the alarm
- IMMEDIATELY go to the bathroom
That’s the only way to successfully beat the continuous snoozing, that’s robbing you of both time and sleep.
I know it’s hard and I know the logical part of your brain isn’t really awake at that time, but give this hack a try!
The actual routine
After the bathroom, I get dressed with something comfortable and go to the kitchen to prepare my girlfriend the simple breakfast I prepare every day.
While I’m preparing it or waiting on certain steps, I write down my goals.
In the last few months I’ve realized the power of writing down your goals.
I’ve read only one book about it, but it convinced me. And I’ve seen multiple studies showing that successful people are writing down their goals.
It’s logical: If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there?
Also this is a really interesting concept, that I learnt at the Elliott Hulse seminar, and it underlines the idea of goal setting:
(seeing + listening + doing + experiencing) * repetition = belief
(beliefs + experiences) * repetition = habits
habits cause automatic perceptions and behavior = results
So technically, you’re feeding that first part through writing down goals to really build beliefs that you can achieve them. I know it’s wishy-washy, but I think there’s something to it. We’ll explore that more deeply in another post.
After that I generally write down my “35 MIT”. This stands for “3 to 5 Most Important Tasks” and is essentially my todo list for the day. I’ve also heard people write it down the night before. You can definitely include it in your evening routine.
While writing, my kettle is already heating up for me, so I can prep some Action Tea. I generally have it every morning, because it helps me to kickstart my mornings and be focused the entire morning.
What I do next is highly dependent on the day of the week: If it’s a workout day, I’ll prep my clothes and my shakes and get going, if it isn’t, it’s very likely that I’ll drive my girlfriend to her workplace.
If I can squeeze in some writing before that, I do it. I generally try to write around 1000 words every day. Some is being used for this blog, some for different projects (and some not at all). It keeps the mind sharp.
If it wasn’t possible before my driver duties, I generally sit down after I come home again and try to write.
I generally only write in the morning, simply because the words flow better in the morning. I don’t know why that is exactly, but I think it’s mainly because I’m a morning person.
Which brings me to the next point:
What if you’re not a morning person?
I’ve heard multiple people say that they are either a morning person or an evening person, depending on their habits.
Back in the school days, you always had those people who started learning for the exam the night before, and the morning before. I was always a morning person.
I can however understand that for some people it just might not be the right time.
I think if you can find the time to squeeze in some work at night, and still not make your day go unproductive, you can definitely do all those things at night.
However, I’d encourage you to at least try for 3-4 weeks and experiment, whether you can get used to getting up early in the morning. Humans are generally habitual, meaning we do what we repeatedly do, best.
If it’s absolutely not possible for you to open your eyes before 7am, maybe you really are a night person and you should work later at night.
A lot of writers actually start their writing late at night.
I think Tim Ferriss mentioned multiple times that his writing times are between 11pm and 4am or something like that.
Different people, different habits, different preferences!
How to build your own productive morning routine
In order for you to build a proper morning routine, you need to have the basics in place:
- get up as early as possible (without sleeping too little)
- try 6am and 5am, run with the one that works better for you
- make sure to have a list of things you want to do
Some people prefer to workout first thing in the morning, I do that on workout days as well. Other people prefer a meditation session in the morning. Maybe you want to read a book and improve yourself first thing in the morning.
It’s really up to you. But here are a few ideas you can use, which are taken from the Productivity Ritual article:
- a specific breakfast that you really like, which gives you energy and makes you feel good
- immediately doing some exercise after waking up
- meditating in the morning
- journaling to get you into the writing mindset
- brewing a special tea
- working on your hobby
- going for a walk
- reading a book
These are just some ideas of all the things you could do and I think it’s really dependent on your lifestyle and your goals, what you want to include in your morning routine.
As you can see there are a lots of positive things about a morning routine and I’d encourage you to build your own routine by experimenting and trying. A morning routine can help you increase your productivity immensely. You’re focused and working towards a specific goal, be it improving your health or expanding your mind.
Let me know how it goes and please share your morning routines with me.
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