I want to be ready to influence my world – before my world is ready to influence me.
I’ve found that how I start my day – determines largely how I spend my day. In a nutshell, how I begin and spend each day is really important to me – and influences the rest of the days I have left.
What could be more important than getting a firm grasp on how we start each day with a morning routine?
So long ago, I created the habit of getting up around 5 am. Sometimes a little earlier, sometimes a little later. My first battle of the day is to win the battle of the bed. Putting mind over mattress. According to Jocko Willink, this habit alone is the cornerstone of discipline and serves you more dutifully in the key areas of your life.
During the weekend, while travelling, or when the clocks change – I don’t miss my morning routine because I love it, and it instils a sense of purpose, peace and ritual in my day. I consider it the single most important time of the 24hrs that each day contains, as these small actions are done over time and have led to the long-term benefits that I currently enjoy in life.
And I would encourage anyone wanting to raise their living standards to spend time building this one habit. It’ll make a difference in every area of your life for sure. Here’s how I do it:
The morning routine
Going to bed relatively early the night before for 7-8 hours of sleep helps (even though it’s usually interrupted by my little daughter), and I currently wake naturally sometime around 5-6 am, so that by 7-8 am I can spend a bit of time with my wife and daughter over coffee, then travel to my office.
(I rarely work from home, as I believe home is to be used and called as “home” – my place of rest & refuge, and work – well I don’t like to waste time when I’m working, and therefore only do work there)
I use dayscore.net to create a check-list for building this habit that I have as a bookmark to open on my tablet home screen as soon as I wake up, and I tick the items off during my morning routine, which usually takes me 1-2 hours:
- Drink a glass of water – Remember that you’ll have far less energy when you’re dehydrated. And get less done.
- Quiet reflection time of meditation / prayer / spiritual reading
- Exercise – home workout or trail run (keeps me vibrant and full of energy throughout the day). Sometimes I have a protein shake after this.
- Look at goal list / mindmap / dreamboard
- Plan the day in my pocket notebook (prioritise my 5 most important tasks for the day, single out the most important task, look at any tasks I have to do every week on that particular day, and ask what I need to do? Who do I need to talk to? Who am I waiting on? What would have to happen for this to be an excellent day? For me to end the day proud?)
- If it’s Monday, then I do a weekly review.
- Make sure I’m well presented (shower, shave, brush teeth, clothes)
- Eat Breakfast (quick look at twitter & facebook)
My day then begins with spending time with my family, settling into an office space clear of clutter (mess creates stress), and getting to inbox zero, before doing my most important task of the day, before moving on to the rest of them.
For beginners, I’d advise starting with just one or two items on the list and then building it up into something that fits you best. For me, it’s still just 1 to 2 main tasks/goals per day.
More about the benefits of setting up and keeping to a morning routine can be heard in this excellent podcast:
He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign. – Victor Hugo