One of the more popular quotes bouncing around at the moment whilst people are making this year their best ever is ‘win the morning win the day’ a simple mantra to get people to take action first thing in the morning. It’s often credited to Tim Ferris the author of the 4 Hour work week and other best selling books as well as wildly popular podcast. His theory is that by completing a series of simple tasks first thing in the morning then his day will be best position for success.
It’s a solid premise and has a number of positives towards this approach, though my reason for developing a morning routine is slightly different. Though I try to incorporate little things that will improve my well being for the day, but for me the reason for a morning routine is to complete the tasks that i consider a priority.
The approach I taken to maximise the effectiveness of my morning routine is broken down into 5 simple steps;
At the moment (these will change with time) for me alone, not my family, my relationships, just for me. This is a self-focus activity that will better assist me throughout my life. So at the moment my priorities are;
To Move (walking a approximately a kilometre)
To Learn (reading at least a chapter / 20 minutes)
To Improve a skill (I’m building my skills in writing at the moment)
So if i get nothing else done today I’m happy if I’ve moved, i’ve learned something and i’ve improved a skill I’ve been practicing. Pretty simple it's the mark of a good day. That’s not to say other things don’t contribute to a good day but if i get these things that are specific to just me then it’s been a good day.
And if these are the things that make for a good day, why not do them first thing?
Before the family is awake, before checking email or social? If they are truly a priority then surely we should do them first.
So what does my routine look like?
- Wake, dressed, toilet and brushing my teeth
- Head outside to the gym ready to go, have a glass of water and make a coffee
- Go for my walk approximately 10-15 minutes depending on the speed of my stroll which is often dictated by the volume of thoughts bouncing in my head
- Sit down to read and enjoy the coffee i made early with is now cooled
- Then stand to write / type I’m using an iPad with a tiny keyboard at the moment so my patience is tested but so far it’s working.
All in all it takes me about 55 minutes or so to complete my routine, which is great on days that i have that length of time but when I’ve got an early start what do i do? I adjust, i get my walk or my walk and reading done before the first clients session and i get my writing done afterwards before tackling the rest of the day.
I don’t want to be locked into a set schedule, because if something changes I could become lost and if I have a bad week of missing my schedule then I’m likely to be thrown off for longer and it might take me weeks to recovery. My day isn’t ruined if I don’t follow the plan it’s just not as a smooth a start as I would like.
Whilst I listed my routine above this is not all that goes into it, my routine starts the night before, I look to remove any potential obstacles that might arise the night before so i start my day stress free.
I like to have a cold water and a coffee in the morning, so the night before I take a coffee cup to the gym and i check that there is water in the machine and coffee available, I also leave my current book on the bench in the gym so that its there waiting for me in the morning and my water bottle filled and in the gym.
I then get my clothes ready for the morning and then i can go to bed knowing I’m not hunting for a pair of socks or my watch in the dark or worse yet waking somebody up whilst i’m walking back and forth through the house (I’m a little noisier than a mouse) the feeling of preparedness enables me to sleep better knowing that I’m ready for the first things I’ll encounter tomorrow.
Once you’ve got your priorities and your plan and you’ve prepared next is time to perform. It’s now simple you’ve got your priorities so you understand why your doing things, you’ve got your plan so you know how you’re going to do things and your prepared so the obstacles are taken care of, so now all that’s left is to go ahead and run through the routine.
I like to take time to enjoy each of the individual parts of the routine, for someone that hates being late i’m not stressing about time if i accidently read for an extra 5 minutes and need to cut my writing time down that’s fine, if i’m anxious and keen to start writing before i lose a thought i might shorten my reading but i try hard to follow the predetermined flow and joy the individual parts of the journey.
The final crucial element to success with a routine and with all habits in general is the ability to pivot.
When things aren’t flowing like you’d hoped or you need more time then we need to be able to adjust. Some mornings all i get in before my first client is the walk and coffee other days i’ve finished everything, the goal is to have a series of tasks that when i complete one it will bring me joy so doing all of them is great but only get a couple done still brings me a level of happiness.
So I take time to reflect on how the morning has gone, what i liked, what i didn’t like, is there anything i need to change? If i can quickly run through these then i feel i’m giving myself an opportunity to change direction when required, it also keeps my priorities on track. Are these still important to me? Am i comfortable with the sacrifices required to complete these items?
One thing i’ve learned about my mornings is I like to do them in silence, i used to have the stereo on for background noise but for me these days silence is blissful, i’m alone with my thoughts and for reading and writing this is fantastic.
So this is what works for me, I’m not telling you to get up and spend an hour getting everything done and turn out to be a beacon for organisation and efficiency but having a plan to start the day off right and can be a great kick-start to each day and enhances your productivity overall.
To help you plan your morning routine we’ve put together a planner that will step you through the process that i’ve outlined above. Download your copy now