Best morning routine
What's your best morning routine? And why it a matters
It's the last week of 2018 as I write this. The dawning of a new year and the hint of longer days and shorter nights gives me hope that my need for extra sleep will fade and that I'll be able to get up without sleeping through several snooze cycles on my phone. My best morning routine is relatively simple but one I'm going to make changes to on January 1st as I launch The 12 Days of Habit Change Challenge
The Habit Change Challenge is a series of daily videos with a step-by-step guide to embedding new habits and discarding unwanted ones. It's a fun way to instill some positive changes to the way we run our lives. It's not fluff but based on recent scientific research.
Why a morning routine matters
In essence the more activities we are able to do on autopilot the better. Repeated frequently on a daily basis they become habitual and require less mental energy and willpower. Routines which become immoveable are carried out effortlessly and achieved subconsciously, leaving our conscious mind to concentrate on the important decisions we have to make every day. These morning rituals become as simple as breathing.
Morning routines add to our motivation
Getting a good start to the day gets the day off on the right foot. Achieving a few daily habits early on is energising and helps to motivate when we begin a difficult task. Our first priority of the work day is likely to be the most urgent and most important on the list. The Eisenhower Matrix is a way of categorising our to-do list into four quadrants so we focus on the activities which make the most difference to our business. Read more about implementing the Eisenhower Matrix in this post.
With a group of daily rituals out of the way, you'll have the mental capability to tackle ‘deep work' as Cal Newport describes the ‘most important task', (MLT) of the day.
Morning routines conserve our willpower
Unless your work is all routine, tackling new, complex, time-consuming projects require the application of willpower. As we live in a distracted world where our every waking minute is liable to be interrupted by either a piece of technology or a human being, it is ever more difficult to stay focused on one thing. The ping of the email or pop up notification from Facebook act as oral and visual interruptions to our every task.
To ignore them requires willpower. Willpower is like a battery which is recharged every night when we sleep and which gradually drains away during the day as we expend it. Trying to stick to challenging work when your reserves of willpower are fading is almost futile.
So if your morning routine requires using some of that willpower, beware. Reign in your expectations a little until the goals you've set yourself have become automatic.
Once your best morning routine becomes habitual you're off to the races every morning and your willpower can be applied to your MLT.
The best morning routines form keystone habits
Keystone habits are those which are firmly embedded in your daily routine. They may be listening to the news at 8.00am or having lunch at 1.00pm. They could be choir proactise on a Thursday or going to the gym on the way to the office.
Keystone habits are positive routines which we barely think about. They are entrenched in our weekly and daily schedule. They are useful to us as a means of anchoring new habits to existing activities.
If you have your best morning routine in place and want to add an additional activity to it, you're much more likely to succeed if the new activity is done before or after a keystone habit. Learn more about this by taking part in the Habit Challenge.
Morning routine research
If you are looking for inspiration from people who have established a morning ritual then read the interviews on the My Morning Routine website with successful entrepreneurs, writers and all manner of creatives. With over 300 examples of morning routines, the site gathers together statistics which are updated weekly about the waking times, sleep patterns, breakfast consumption, use of technology and first drinks of the day.
The sleeping patterns vary widely with one person waking and another going to sleep at 3.00am. The averages are fairly predictable, so if you go to bed at 11.00pm and wake up at 6.30am, drink a glass of water before a coffee and eat porridge for breakfast, you're pretty normal!
Hal Elrod's Miracle Morning
The master of the morning routine is best-selling author and speaker, Hal Elrod. His book, The Miracle Morning, describes six recommended habits for an optimal start to the day.
S = silence – a period of reflection or meditation
A = affirmation – meaning thinking about one thing we're grateful for
V = visualisation – how do we want our day to pan out?
E = exercise
R = reading, and
S = scribing
This is an extremely popular book and many who follow Hal's advice attest to its success. I would work your way up to all six new habits as starting out by trying to do all of them at once may rapidly sap your willpower.
Personalise your morning routine
There's no right or wrong choices when it comes to your personal morning routine. If exercise, meditation and water are not for you first thing, then choose one or more activities which motivate YOU.
I get up around 7.15am, go downstairs, drink one glass of water and make a coffee. Then it's time to watch Squawk Box on CNBC for a catch up on the stock markets before having a shower and getting dressed. I have to admit I check my emails and social media first thing and put off exercise although from time to time I do my stretching rather half-heartedly. Changing our habits is hard but I'll be working on it in the new year. Will you join me?