- in Routine by Brian Wright
My Morning Routine: How To Be Productive without Going Insane
My morning routine single-handedly turned me into a real human again.
Before, when I woke up, for the first three hours of the day I could have passed as an extra in the walking dead.
Here’s a little something I’ve realized in my short life: if you don’t start your morning right, the entire rest of the day is gonna suffer.
(1) Kind of like children taking on the characteristics of their parents and home environment, or
(2) the fruit of a tree being weak or strong based on the quality of the seed…or even
(3) a river being contaminated up stream – the source of our day is the morning, and we need to do it right so the rest of the day grows into something worth living through, rather than being garbage zombieland.
Everyday without a powerful morning schedule, is a day left up to chance. Chance results, chance feelings, chance productivity, chance everything.
Chance has always been my least favorite word. Chance means I’m not in charge. Ew.
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My Morning Routine: The Kit
The purpose of a morning routine is two-fold: to make sure the most important things get done first, and to guide the rest of your day by controlling the starting line.
This section is about the activities I include in my personal morning routine and why. When scanning over my routine remember that your own daily needs and objectives are probably different from mine.
My Morning Routine Objectives
My morning routine covers all my bases. I need to stay healthy, I need to be productive, I want to stay mentally capable throughout the day and be happy with my accomplishments.
I make sure the schedule I maintain builds on itself. All the activities make sense, and are in the proper order.
My morning ritual turns me superhuman. I had a thought once when I was reading a book on habits, that if I could just take a bunch of things I knew were good for me, and made them habitual, I could literally be a superhero.
They call it the 1% for a reason.
- Almost nobody gets anything done
- Almost nobody has the perfect body
- Almost nobody is full of energy all day
- Almost nobody is super happy and thrilled about what they’re doing
Why? Because keeping up with all that stuff is hard, requires time and effort, and can be painful.
But If i could push through that pain and make those things habits, get them done in the morning, and maintain that, my life could take on a superhero like quality.
In order to create an effective routine, it’s important to know what you want from the routine first. A morning routine wouldn’t be usefull unless it got you better daily results. So what are those results? That’s your call.
My Morning Routine: The Schedule
Jumping out of bed first thing is no fun. So I don’t do it. You know what is fun? Waking up at my leisure.
After my alarm goes off, I spend like 5 or 10 minutes in bed just hanging out. I keep a thermos and a mug within arms reach. When the alarm goes off, I reach for the thermos and pour myself some pre-prepared peppermint tea and just chill.
Then I reach for my affirmations. Once I’ve taken a few sips and the gunk is out of my eye balls, I reach for a laminated sheet I created to set the tone for the rest of the day.
It’s basically an affirmation slash “get me in the right mood/mindset” sheet that I keep laminated and in the same spot next to my bed.
It’s important to get the ball rolling in the right direction. This sheet is the first part of that for me. Reading through the stuff I’ve written on it guides my mind to a place I want it to be, it reminds me first thing how I want to feel, how I want to behave, and who I am as a person.
Without it, your mind can quickly go off on it’s own little journey, and often not to a place where you want.
A good morning routine is going to put you in control, immediately. When you wake up to a prison alarm like BAHHHH BAHHHHHH BAHHHHHHHH, you go into fight or flight. Fight or flight means animal & automatic.
Getting out of bed:
I get out of bed when I feel like it. The morning is way better when there’s no pressure. Everyone hates that. You get out of bed in a hurry, you bump your head getting into the shower or stub your toe.
Then you eat a shit breakfast, or no breakfast at all. So when you get to work your not fed, not hydrated, on too much caffeine, and you expect to have a good day. It’s just a dumb way to live your life.
Getting out of bed needs to feel good. Once I’ve spent 5 or 10 minutes in bed getting my mind right. I decide to do something else I enjoy. Stretching. Stretching first thing in the morning does something magical and I highly recommend it. It takes me about 5 minutes.
Stretching makes you feel prepared. It’s not only for your body. After stretching, for some reason I feel like I’m more prepared for what’s ahead.
Getting out of bed is a crucial moment. It’s the moment you leave your warm cacoon. This is the moment your brain is thinking about when it either feels pain, or pleasure from getting up. Remember that.
It’s now been about 15 minutes. At this point, I’m just now ready to leave my room and get started with “real” morning stuff.
I start with exercise. Partly for practical reasons and partly because science reasons. Ever have that experience where, once you finally wake up, you feel like your normal self? You almost wish you could just feel like that as soon as your alarm goes off.
But for some reason, upon waking, your a lazy version of yourself, and it takes a while to become the regular you who wants to wake up and do stuff.
Exercising first thing helps you become your regular self faster. It gets your blood pumping, oxygenates your blood, warms up your body and makes you feel good.
Putting it before everything else is just a smart thing to do. Then you can shower after that and move on to other things.
Shake all the staleness off you from sleeping. You’ve been inactive for 8 hours. Get yourself nice and lubricated again.
I slow down after the exercise. Once my blood is done pumping it’s actually time to tone it down a little bit. There’s a contemplative, peaceful period to each of my mornings that’s important for me to have.
Meditation is an important part of my life. I know not everyone is into meditation (although I’m not sure why). From the spiritual benefits, all the way down physiological benefits, it really seems like a bias more than anything that people have an issue with meditation.
Learn how to meditate for beginners
Meditation Machines: programs you can use to relax in your office
Personally, I see meditation as a constant companion of mine. Having it in my routine for the last 10+ years is no accident. It keeps me connected, in control, and takes the edge off life in general.
Don’t let the morning run away with you. Slow down and get some YOU time, with some type of mindfulness session or peaceful period.
It’s almost like pulling a rubber band back before launching it forward. This period where I’m taking time to think, be calm, and be silent might seem like going in reverse from the intense exercise I just got done with, but actually, it’s like gathering kinetic energy before launching yourself into the day.
I choose not to speak during this period, or make much noise at all. When you do that, you develop a particular friendship with silence. The only way I can describe the feeling you get is powerful.
Feeding my brain:
The last part of my routine is information consumption. Normally, I’m biased toward reading, but other ways of consuming information are just fine.
- Education youtube videos
- Courses you’ve bought
- Products you’ve bought in general
- Audio books
- Podcasts etc…
These are all good options for this part of the day, depending on your schedule. If you were trying to adapt my routine to your own life, you might listen to informational podcasts on the way to work.
Learning everyday is important. The thing about learning is that each time you engage with something that requires all our knowledge, you bring all your knowledge to the table. The more knowledge you have, the bigger the library you can use to get better results.
- Interacting with others
- Making money
- Educating others
- Exercising and staying healthy
Learning helps you understand yourself, your environment and the life you’re living better. Make it habitual by placing it in your morning routine.
These are all circumstances that are affected by what you have in your brain. There’s something to be said about storing useless knowledge in your head, but as long as you consume information that’s relevant to you getting the results you desire, I think you’ll be alright.
If you don’t do it in the morning, you’ll never do it. Reading takes brain sugar. If I don’t do it in the morning before anything else, I experience what I call brain pain (your brain saying “we don’t have the resources for this) and often procrastinate.
Stack your learning with breakfast. Sit down with your breakfast and tea (all cool peoples drink tea), and read while you’re eating.
I learned this from Tai Lopez.
1. Stacking is different from multi-tasking.
2. Multi-tasking is combining two resource demanding activities together. You end up sacrificing your results in one or both of these activities.
Stacking is combining one mindless activity, like eating, and one resource demanding activity, like reading.
Your reading is not effected by you eating because eating is a mindless activity.
*Another example of this would be listening to a podcast while driving.
Reading a book while driving would be an example of
Getting to Work:
Everything I’ve done has prepared me for this point. This isn’t technically part of my morning routine. The morning routine is over now and it’s time for my “creation period” or the part of the day when I’m productive in making money and taking care of business.
I use a modification of pomodoro sprints. The pomodoro method is a productivity technique that involves a series of sprints followed by short breaks.
The breaks are necessary for me every 2 hours to reset my brain, otherwise, you’ll notice diminishing returns on your focus.
This method eliminates lapses in focus. Whenever you’re focused for a certain amount of time, and you know there’s a break afterwards, it’s easier to sit down for two hours and just go.
Find a block of time where you’re doing nothing but creating your dreams. Whatever they are. You’re a human so you’ve got goals. Work toward them. No distractions, and breaks only when you need to refuel.
How to Create your Own Routine
You might not have the freedom to create a morning ritual like mine. I’m self employed, work from home, and can do what I want all day, every single day.
This might not be the case for you. Regardless, you can’t just give up and say “morning routines aren’t for me”. That’s called letting life push you around.
Create a morning routine anyway. You just need to take the basic formula and fit it to your circumstances.
Not having a morning routine is NOT an option. Don’t be a quitter.
I haven’t gone into great detail about how to create your own morning routine here because, frankly, it’s not necessary.
Stefan James (at projectlifemastery.com) has created a wonderful program called Morning Ritual Mastery.
I’ve given you a bunch of tips to guide you towards constructing a routine that does what mine does, but honestly, you should just let him guide you through his program.
That way there’s no confusion, no thinking, and he even shows you how to fit everything in, even if you’ve only got 15 minutes.
He’ll also show you have to create 30 & 60 min routine for yourself if those work better for you.
He’s only asking $27 for the entire program. It’s 7 steps long, super simple, and seriously effective.
You could go at it alone but…I’m just not sure why you would with the investment for an expert guide being so little.
Create Your Own Morning Routine: Step 1
Decide what your outcomes are. There’s zero good in making a morning routine willy nilly. Decide what you want the end result of you having the routine in the first place to be.
Results I’m talking about include:
- More free time
- Less stressful mornings
- Increased productivity
- Silent time for yourself
- A moment to catch your thoughts and plan your day
Create Your Own Morning Routine: Step 2
What activities achieve those outcomes? Rather than just making a huge to do list for yourself in the morning (a common productivity trap is the idea we need to be busy all the time to be productive) come up with a list of five activities you could do each morning to accomplish the outcomes you desire.
If your outcomes are to (1) have a clear plan for the day’s most important tasks, (2) to maintain your health & energy, and (3) increase your knowledge, then your morning routine will look like this:
- Wake up
- Read a little
- Plan the days most important tasks
- Start those tasks with the time i have left
- Head off to work (or however your life goes)
Create Your Own Morning Routine: Step 3
Examine your evening routine. When you wake up each morning, it’s easy to make bad decisions with fog brain (my affectionate name for it).
Your brain loves the comfort of that warm bed. Either way, it’s your job to make it easy on yourself to wake up and get out of bed each morning.
An easy way to accomplish this, is to eliminate stress. The brain is simple minded like the hulk, and “BRAIN DON’T LIKE STRESS. BRAIN THINK THIS HARD. BRAIN NO DO.”
Aaaaaaand suddenly you’re procrastinating slash hitting the snooze button.
Make everything easy.
- Slippers by your bed.
- Coffee already made in a thermos.
- Breakfast already half made.
You know how you fold your clothes for the next day and put them next to your bed? Makes it easy to get dressed doesn’t it?
Do that with everything.
Creating a morning routine that works for you won’t be super difficult. But there will be some trial and error. Waiting on your perfect routine only prolongs the shitty phase where you’re super uncomfortable. It’s easier just to be guided along so you have the perfect one right away, the first time.
This is your last chance to check out Morning Ritual Mastery.
Avoid any hassle you might experience, and make it quick and easy.
Create Your Own Morning Routine: Step 4
Push through the shitty phase. Imagine leaving for a family trip. Everyone’s in the car and your off. 10 miles into the trip, you realize the kid left his favorite bear or something…
Suddenly you have the slam on the breaks, turn the car around, and go back, and then start all over again.
Think about how you would feel if that happened to you. This is what it’s like for your brain and body to change routines. It’s uncomfortable at first. Just push through the week or so where it’s uncomfortable, and then once it’s habitual, you’ll feel normal again.
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