How To Escape Snooze Prison and Create a Nice Morning Routine
I’m not a man of habits, and I hate mornings. If you’re reading this, chances are that the same goes for you. You’d probably hit that snooze button until your fingers are bleeding, forcing you out of bed. But rumor has it that if you win the morning, you win the day. It turns out to have something to it.
Frankly, I never thought I’d become a morning person. Lying in bed, repeatedly reaching for the snooze button every five minutes used to feel like the very essence of a day off to me. That day off habit, however, managed to sneak it’s way into my working days as well, leaving me endlessly tired and miserable until I had my 3 cups of espresso to regain control (quitting coffee, and the benefits of that, is a story for later). Tired of this, I made some changes to regain control and escape this snooze prison, and I thought I’d share them with you. Oh, and by the way, it’s 7am in the morning.
Before you start
The main idea of a morning routine is to form a habit which removes as many decisions as possible, and sets you off in the right mindset to enjoy the day. Productivity is a nice side effect. But forming a habit usually takes around three weeks (read the great book Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz for more on this, and life), so prepare to put down some effort the first time. I went through hell the first days when the alarm rang, but it couldn’t be more worth it in the long run.
Step 1: List your morning routine
Spoiler: this will change when you start getting your habit in place, but you have to start somewhere. Write down how you want to spend the first two hours of your day in a bullet list, containing nothing related to social media. Your list can look however you want, but I recommend some sort of meditation and a cold shower, it really boosts your focus and energy. As little as ten minutes of morning exercise has also been proven to be great for energy and discipline. My list, which is also a hint for some upcoming posts:
- 5:30 wake up
- 10 min Wim Hof method breathing (to energize and set the mode for next bullet)
- 20 min meditation, usually Mindfulness-based stress reduction
- 5 minutes stretching, removes all of that morning stiffness
- Cold shower, don’t even get me started on the benefits of this
- Get dressed
- Tea brewing, usually Lapsang Souchong
- 20 min Duolingo French lessons
- Reading through blogs etc. I’m following (not social media-like stuff)
You may notice two things: there is no breakfast involved and it’s not adding up to two hours. Reason 1: new research shows that breakfast is not “the most important meal of the day”, the phrase is just a result of skilled marketing by breakfast food companies, so I’d rather skip it. Lost quite some fat by doing so. Reason 2: Packing a schedule for two whole hours would leave you stressed out, have some free time to allow you to dig deeper in eg. an article you find particularly interesting or just enjoy the morning.
Step 2: Take control of the evening
Having to wake up to a mess is the worst possible start of a day. Take five minutes to clean up around you, especially the bedroom and kitchen which is likely where you’ll spend most of your morning time. Take out clothes for tomorrow, to remove that decision from the morning. Spend last 30 minutes of your day away from your phone and other screens.
Step 3: Set alarm for at least two hours before any scheduled activities
In my case it’s 5:30, because I have to leave 7:30 to catch a train. It sounds terribly early, even for me still, but your body will get used to it sooner than you think.
Step 4: Do. Not. Snooze.
I can’t stress this enough. Don’t do it. Put the alarm device where you can’t reach it from the bed. The alarm brings you up from deep sleep, and when you daze off snoozing you fall into a light sleep. In no way on earth is that going to make you feel more well rested, au contraire. Don’t snooze.
Step 5: Work your way through the list
Start with the first thing on your list and then work your way down to the last bullet, leaving your phone or any disturbing elements out of sight until you’re through. In the beginning it may feel a bit weird and you will have to check the list to do it in the right order, but eventually it will become second nature and you will enjoy it. If it starts to feel “too boring”, change something.
Step 6: Enjoy the rest of your day
Thats it, put some energy in to forming a daily morning routine and you’ll have more energy than ever before. Doing so is what opened up the time for me to start writing this blog, along with staying updated with what I care about and learning French. Besides, the long summer days here in Sweden means that’s it’s already sunny and warm outside when I wake up, which adds up to me having a couple of weeks of extra summer compared to when I was a snoozer. Winter is coming though…
Motivation and tips
This post was just a brief introduction from the top of my head, I really recommend that you check out these brilliant things from some of my favorite authors and producers:
- Tim Ferriss “5 Morning Rituals That Help Me Win the Day”. All three podcast episodes are highly worth consuming, along with the rest of his show.
- Vice documentary “Inside the Superhuman World of the Iceman”. This opened up a whole new world to me. Watch it before looking at the miniclass below.
- Wim Hof Method’s miniclass in breathing techniques, cold and commitment. It’s short and free.
- The meditation app Headspace. If you haven’t tried meditation before, this will give you a nice introduction. Try their “Take10” program.
- The learning app Duolingo for learning languages. It just makes it a natural part of your daily life. Try Swedish.