Science tells us that adopting a morning routine leads to greater performance and wellbeing.
It isn’t so much about what is in your routine, just that you have one.
Whilst putting together a personal morning routine is relatively easy, focusing your mind and developing the habit required to consistently achieve it is a lot harder. How you start your day anchors you and keeps you focused on what is important for you to achieve in the day. Finding the right routine for you takes some trial and error but there are some key elements that make a morning routine effective.
By putting a time limit on what you need to do ‘Nine before Nine’ helps create the immediacy – the future is ‘Now’.
1. Wake up refreshed at your right time
Getting enough quality sleep is critical to both your health and your productivity. I’m much better in the mornings so a 5am start works well for me. However to ensure I get the 7-8 hours sleep I need in order to feel refreshed the next morning I’m into my power down routine by 9pm each work night. By contrast, if you are someone who is wide-awake at midnight then (subject to work protocol) a later morning start will suit you better. The most important thing isn’t what time you wake up – it’s being in tune with your body clock and working to this to ensure you get good quality sleep.
2. Choose your state
It’s your choice whether you wake up mentally strong, able to block out any negativity and be ready to attack the day. The habit developed by most successful people is to be switched on and positive and their morning routine becomes part of that habit. If you’re not feeling mentally strong or positive then you need to look for ways during your morning routine to become more positive.
Most people will include some form of exercise during their morning routine in order to get their blood flowing and their mind active. It doesn’t have to be a jog or a gym session, a walk, swim or cycle will help just fine too.
4. Set your daily goals
Setting goals helps give yourself direction, focus and motivation. You will likely have medium to long-term goals and your short-term goals –ie what are you going to achieve today – are integral to achieving them. Setting goals for today helps frame the day and give your goals some immediacy. If you want to achieve your goals you must start Now! Your morning routine helps with this process.
Closing your eyes and visualising your daily goals will help you achieve them. You will develop muscle memory around the difficult or challenging opportunities or situations you face. Visualise what you want to happen in your meeting, conversation or presentation and perhaps the answers you will give to likely questions. This visualisation becomes a mental dress rehearsal, which gives you confidence that you have a workable plan.
6. Have breakfast to give you energy
Somewhere in your ‘Nine before Nine’ routine you want a breakfast that provides energy and nourishment. The experts’ wouldn’t recommend my two cups of coffee and a muffin but it is an important and consistent part of my morning routine.
You don’t need a lengthy meditation routine in the morning – just some time that helps you prepare a positive mindset and attitude to face the day. It might be the only quiet time that you enjoy during the day so it becomes your ‘safe haven’ and a time that you look forward to. I combine my visualisation and mediation period in the quiet time before the rest of the house wakes for the day.
8. Drink water
Drinking water in your morning routine will help kick start your day. If you can drink a litre of water within the first hour of the day (and I can’t) this will provide incredible energy that will last well into the afternoon.
9. Get started
The morning routine is the conduit to getting started for the day and taking action to make things happen. There are contrasting views on whether you should get the toughest things out of the way or just power through some basic tasks to get you in the swing of the day. I have a thirty minute train ride to the city after a twenty minute walk (the exercise in my routine) to the station which is a perfect time to respond to emails and listen to podcasts.
These are personal reflections only and you should trial whatever works for you. I just know that a morning routine provides me a consistent foundation to what often can be a variable and chaotic day.
I hope you can work out a routine that works for you.