We all begin our day at some point, whether it is at 10 am, 5 am, or even noon. Some people start their morning by exercising while others go straight online to check their social media notifications. Other people start by making breakfast while others prepare their kids for school. The point is, we all have our morning routine.
Whether your morning routine is effective, is another question.
If you do it right, your morning routine can set you up for a productive day, week, month, and even years. For this reason, you need to make sure your morning routine is effective. While it may seem infinite, on average we have about 25,000-morning routines in our adult life.
Some people may not take their morning routine seriously. But after seeing how some of the most successful people start their morning, you will begin making the most of your morning routines.
- Kenneth Chenault, the CEO of American Express, usually notes down the top 3 things he wants to accomplish the next day before leaving the office at night. Then items on that list will start his morning.
- David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, saves all his email until he reaches the office at 9:30 or 10:00 am.
- Anna Wintour, editor in chief at Vogue plays tennis every morning, starting at 5:45 for an hour.
- Jennifer Aniston, the actress, wakes up at 4:30 am and starts on her morning rituals right away. Her morning routine is usually washing her face with soap, drink hot water and lemon, and meditating for 20 minutes.
- Tim Ferries, blogger, and entrepreneur, usually accomplish small goals after waking up in the morning
The Science Behind Habits and Forming Routines
Routine is simply a series of activities that you do repetitively.
For instance, brushing your teeth every night before bed is a routine. Waking up every morning and exercising is also a routine. Reading the news every morning after waking up is a routine. Eating chips or any other snack while Netflix-ing is a routine.
Any sequence of actions that happen over and over in your daily life comprises a routine.
With that in mind, it is essential to point out that there are good and bad routines. So, hopefully, yours is a good, powerful routine.
Routines produce high achievers
Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
As we have seen above, all those successful people have their own unique set of morning routines.
Routines autopilot our brains
The reason why the routines of successful people are so effective and powerful is because of habits. Human beings are creatures of habit.
As it turns out, habits can put our brains into autopilot, where little or no self-discipline is needed.
First, an action occurs to serve your brain as a cue and putting it into autopilot or automatic mode.
For instance, immediately after waking up, you start a routine, and that cue to your mind will train your brain. After some time, your mind will automatically know it is time for this routine once you wake up.
Second, you execute the routine.
Third, you reap the benefits of your routine, which will make you look forward to the next morning.
See how powerful routines can be? The small actions repeated daily can have huge effects.
By establishing your morning routines, and implementing them daily, you can set yourself up for a productive day.
How to get the most out of every morning.
Manage your energy rather than your time
Think about the tasks you do best at certain times. For instance, most people are usually much more creative in the morning than in the afternoons. If you are one of these people, your goal should be to accomplish only your creative tasks during the morning hours.
Don’t waste your creative energy on things that don’t require creativity.
Ask yourself, what type of energy do I have most in the morning? It could be workout energy, meditating energy, or creative energy.
Then, focus on using that energy for the right task.
Prepare for the morning the night before
We have seen one high achiever, American Express CEO typically prepares the night before. So, try to organise your to-do list for the next day each night.
Preparing the night before can take you about ten minutes, but can save you hours the next morning.
Without scheduling your next day, you may be surprised to find out at the end of the day that you have not achieved anything meaningful. And that is scary.
It will help to also create your to-do list for tomorrow during the day, and then decide which one to give the highest priority at the end of the day.
Focus your positive energy
Some famous people like Oprah tend to start their morning by meditating. As it turns out, this could be one of the most powerful ways to begin your morning.
Take a few quiet moments right after waking up and focus on your positive energy for the new day. The best way to do this is through meditation, saying affirmations, thinking and feeling positive thoughts and feelings, or practising visualisation.
Numerous studies have shown that regular meditation can reduce blood pressure, relieve stress and fatigue, and boost your immune system.
Review your goals
We all have goals, and it doesn’t matter whether they are big or small. If you have something that you want to accomplish so badly, this is your goal.
Unfortunately, with our packed daily lives, we can sometimes get off the tracks.
The best way to regain focus is by reviewing these goals. Start by creating a plan to achieve these goals, put the day in perspective, and then understand the most important thing to accomplish.
Ensure you use every minute after waking up, for what can help you achieve your goal.
Listen to music
Music has an unexplainable power. The right kind of music can add an energising aspect to your morning routine. Studies have shown that sound can affect your mood as well as the body.
When listening to a soothing song or nature sounds – be it ocean waves or a babbling brook – the body releases chemicals that may help boost your moods.
However, the type of music depends on your needs and preference. For instance, if you want to boost your energy, you can listen to rock ‘n roll if you are a fan; and if you feel stressed out, then the soothing sound might be your medicine.
While this does not work with some people (Winston Churchill usually stepped out of bed at 11.00 am), waking up earlier increases your productivity as well as giving you more hours to work.
Jack Dorsey, Square CEO wakes up at 5:30 to go for a six miles job, while Dan Kerson, GM CEO usually wakes up between 4:30 and 5 am to take to GE Asia. Tim Cook of Apple rises at 4:30 and sends emails before getting to the gym by 5:00 am.
These people are not necessarily morning larks, but they have taught themselves to become morning risers due to the very many benefits of waking up early.
If you use this morning hours to meditate or practice a quiet contemplation, you can have greater creativity as you will be working with a fresh mind.
Even recent research has shown that waking up in the morning increases the levels of well-being and positivity.
Make your bed
Famous blogger and entrepreneurship coach Tim Ferris starts his day by accomplishing small tasks. Making your bed is one of these small tasks you can do in the morning to improve your mood for the day.
By making your bed, you have already accomplished the first task of the day. And this will give you a sense of accomplishment and pride, which will encourage you to do even more tasks. And in the end, you will realise that one small task propelled you into accomplishing many tasks.
Making your bed every morning also brings gratitude to you, as it reinforces the sense that little things in life matter significantly. And if you can’t do these small things right, then you will find it challenging to do the big stuff. To make matters even worse, if you have a miserable day, you are going to come home to a messy bed!
Affirmations are simply the positive words, phrases, or statements you can use to re-wire your self-perception and the day you are about to start. They are a form of visualising the great things that will come into your life that day and eliminating the negative self-talk.
Your goal here is to affirm and visualise the good things that you want to occur in your life. While focusing on these things, you will start to believe that you can actually and will realise them, which in turn, pushes you to take the necessary action on them.
Affirmations are effective methods to improve oneself. They work just like workouts, by raising the levels of the feel-good hormones and making your brain create a new collection of positive thought neurons.
President Barack Obama usually does his cardio and weight workouts after waking up. Exercising during the morning increases the blood flow in your body, makes you feel strong, and releases endorphins. This prepares you to tackle the day with a clear mind while it increases your energy levels and helps you maintain optimal health.
Studies have shown that exercise is one of the most effective ways to relieve depression and anxiety.
Create your daily morning workout routine to pave you the way for a productive day.
This doesn’t have to be a rigorous exercise, like going to the gym and powerlifting. Even a brisk walk around the block can have tremendous benefits on your day.
Eat well in the morning.
What you eat in the morning will have a massive effect on your performance throughout the day, and therefore, you should make sure it is a proper meal.
According to experts, you should stay away from high fat, high sugar breakfast, and instead consume meals like oatmeal, smoothie, low-fat breakfast sandwich, and yoghurt and fruit parfait.
Eat good carbs and lots of fibre and protein to give your body the required energy to fuel your day. It will also satisfy your cravings for food.
Take a cold bath or shower in the morning
This may shock you, but some people find it a very effective way of starting the day. A cold shower has been found to increase the flow of blood, burn the bad fat, and produce dopamine into your body.
A cold shower will kick start your body, just like exercising.
Motivational speaker Tony Robbins usually plunges himself into a 57 degrees water each morning.
Reflect on your day’s achievement at the end of the day
With everything going on in your life, it can be easy to forget about the victories you have had during the day. So, take a few moments every night to contemplate and celebrate your achievements. This will help you put things into a proper perspective and encourage you to do more the following day.
Reflecting on your wins helps you defeat the discouragement that usually comes with obstacles.
For instance, former US president Benjamin Franklin usually asked himself every night “What good have I done today?” as well as “What good shall I do this day?” the next morning.
Clear your head every evening
Many people usually take their work to bed. However, the bed is a place for quality sleep and relaxation.
If you take other things that are not sleep-related, to your bedroom, you will make it difficult to fall asleep, which will make it hard to wake up the following morning.
To disengage from your work and other distractions at the end of the day, consider taking an evening walk. This will also help you clear your mind and think about what you have accomplished and slowly reach the state of sleepiness.
Clean up your home in the evening
Waking up the following morning to a messy home is not the best way to start a productive day. To avoid your place turning into a disaster and clutters, spend at least 10 or 20 minutes every night to tidy up. By doing this, you can combat stress the next morning and also help you avoid epic cleaning hours during the weekends.
If there is even a thing that you can do, clean it and don’t wait for weekends. These small tasks will give you a sense of accomplishment.
Practice healthy sleeping hygiene
Practising proper sleep hygiene will help you sleep better and get up the next morning feeling strong and refreshed.
Try to follow the same wake-up and sleep schedule, minimise exposure to blue light during sleep, set your bedroom temperature to between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and make your bedroom as dark as you can.
Quality sleep will enhance your performance the next day.
Banish snooze button
If you want to have a great morning, don’t hit that snooze. Experts believe that every time you wake up, snooze your alarm, and then get back to sleep, you enter into a new sleep cycle, which is usually light and fragmented and can leave you feeling tired throughout the day.
So instead of hitting snooze, just get up and start your day.
When you finally get out of bed, do some stretches to put your body in the proper position.
Wake up with soothing sound
If you don’t want to hit that snooze button, try setting your alarm to wake you up to a pleasant sound or soothing music. This will help you rise from sleep in a gentle, relaxed way. And in the end, it will also make the idea of a looming alarm less frightful.
Get your mind right
The first things you need to get in the morning are breath, sun, and stretch. You may be wondering, why should I include these things to my morning routine?
The truth is, a few moments of sunlight on your skin in the morning can help get rid of your sleep hormones, leaving you to feel awake and invigorated.
Water in the morning is also essential. Most people don’t think of drinking water until later in the day or when they feel thirsty. But according to experts, drinking water, the moment you wake up can go a long way to make your morning productive.
Oxygen is also an essential element if you want to have a successful morning. For this reason, make sure you take a deep breath every morning when you wake up. This is because our bodies usually have low amounts of oxygen when we wake up in the morning.
Rollover on your bed
Chiropractors have found that if you get out of bed before rolling over first, you risk straining your back or neck. So to avoid this, make sure you roll over onto your right side and get into a sitting position, and then stand up with a straight posture.
This is effective and one of the gentlest ways to wake up in the morning because it takes the pressure off your back and heart.
Look after your eyes after waking up
When you wake up in the morning, your eyes, after being shut for hours, are not yet adjusted to the light, and so exposing them to direct light is not healthy. This means not looking at your phone immediately when you wake up. Experts recommend that you wait at least twenty minutes before exposing your eyes to direct bright light.
But you can help your eyes adjust by first opening your window curtains to allow in some natural light.
Try multitasking in the morning
If you want to feel more productive, consider multitasking in the morning. For instance, you can try exercising while meditating or listening to a podcast.
Use technology for extra help
If you still need more help making your morning routine the best it can be, try using your phone. Numerous mobile apps can help make your morning hours enjoyable and productive.
Use apps that can track your sleep cycle, help you make delicious smoothies for breakfast, and so on.
There you go, some tips for creating a productive morning routine that will help you do more during the day. Try one or combination of these tips and see what works for you.
Also, don’t forget to maintain your morning routines seven days a week. Just because it is the weekend doesn’t mean you should abandon your routines. Keep it up and see your life getting better and better!