How to Have the Best Day of Your Life in 90 Mins or Less

“Win the Morning So You Can Win the Day” — Unknown

I’ve been a fan of Morning Rituals now for at least a decade. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got, was from a good friend — Scott Becker. Scott is a phenomenal engineer. He’s one of the smartest dudes I know — is extremely smart (like intimidatingly smart), and has a very clear thinking process. He and his partners sold their company Invite Media to GOOG in 2010 for $70M.

He once said to me “Success doesn’t come from luck. It’s engineered”.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve refined my Morning Rituals by cutting away the unnecessary, and keeping things as simple and impactful as possible. The end result is, I feel good, get a ton accomplished, and am ready for just about anything that comes my way.

7M’s1J — My Morning Sequence

Here are my morning rituals, in sequence. And then I’ll break them down for you one by one, after:

  • Make my Bed
  • Morning Coffee
  • Move my Body
  • Journal
  • Meditate
  • Meditations
  • Music
  • Make Money

Principles

I’m a big fan of mental models. Pulling from the hard sciences to construct mental shortcuts, modeled from how our physical world works. I like pulling my mental frameworks from the following disciplines: Math, Physics, Engineering.

Each item above is sequenced in order, to give me the biggest bang for the buck — while minimizing and eliminating the unnecessary. It’s the 80/20 of AM Rituals.

The primary principles I’m pulling from here are:

  1. Newton’s 1st Law of Motion + Pareto’s Law
“Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.” — Isaac Newton

Thing’s in motion have a tendency to stay in motion until a force acts upon it.

NeuroPsychologist’s have mapped this over to behavioral science — which is extremely fascinating, but a little too in depth for this convo (see below). In short once a new behavior is created… it has a tendency to remain.

My attempt is to find the smallest behavior I can perform, to get things into motion…

2. Fogg’s Behavior Model

Fogg’s Behavior Model

This is closely related to the above. Fogg’s Behavior Model is all about finding the smallest things you can do, to create new behavior’s so they stick — it’s applying inertia to your new behavior.

For my Neuroscience friends out there, this is hacking the Pre-Frontal Cortex’s decision making process (The FPC, LPC, OFC loop). It looks something like this:

3. Minimize Decision Fatigue and Maximize Cognitive Budget

Let’s say that every morning, you wake up w/ 100 mental points that you can use any way you choose. The fewer decisions you have to make, and the more routine you have, the more mental points you can allocate to important matters.

Here are 2 great articles on this topic, for those interested:

Minimizing Decision Fatigue

Maximizing Cognitive Budget

1. Make My Bed

This is all about momentum and priming. What’s the smallest thing I can do to tell my brain it’s time to get into action mode, and what’s the smallest thing I can accomplish to get right into action. Or as I like to say, “Find the tiny hinges, that swing open big doors”.

Total Time: 5 mins

2. Morning Coffee

I mean… what else do I need to say here. It’s coffee :). I’ve been a fan of Bulletproof coffee now for about 3 years. I remember when Dave Asprey used to post in little known bi0-hacking blogs. It’s cool to see him become a nationally known bio-hacker.

The other thing I’m doing here, is picking up my resting heart rate, getting a dose of anti-oxidants and blunting the downside hunger while I Intermittent Fast for the day.

Total Time: 12 mins

3. Move

I do some form of exercise and/or stretching. Right now, I’ve gone back to a great workout routine called Convict Conditioning. The premise is that it’s beneficial to use your body weight as a means of getting stronger, lean and fit.

Again — Here I’m using Pareto’s Law. I’m not trying to get bigger right now. Just focused on strength and flexibility. I get out and run w/ my weight vest on, do several pull-ups on building scaffolding in the neighborhood, and make my way to the East River and stretch.

Morning Workout Views

Total Time: 30–45 mins

4. Journal

This is a new addition to my routine. I discovered the 5 minute journal recently, and it’s been a nice addition to my morning rituals for several reasons.

  1. It’s the practice of introducing Gratitude in my day
  2. I quickly can sketch out what I want to get done for the day
  3. It includes daily affirmations — or positive self talk
  4. It takes 5 mins — so super easy
  5. And a surprise, it’s primed me to get into creating mode as opposed to consuming mode (for example: I’m writing this article, which has been in my Evernote notebook for months now).
My Writing Space

Total Time: 5 mins

5. Meditate

I use Headspace, which is a cool app. It has both guided and unguided meditations. There’s some really interesting science coming out on the benefits of meditation.

There are 2 main types of mediation — Mindfulness meditation and TM meditation. The best way to think of them is, one involves observing, the other involves a more active approach.

I’m a big fan of Mindfulness meditation because

  1. It’s the practice of observing — which for someone w/ an Engineer’s Mindset, is an extremely useful practice.
  2. It’s a nice way to get into my day, before the demands of life call on me.

Total Time: 20 mins

6. Meditations

“Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness — all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading. Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man’s two hands, feet or eyelids, or the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature’s law — and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction.” — Marcus Aurelius

I’ve read this passage almost every morning for the last year. Marcus Aurelius was Emperor of the Roman Empire during the warring years w/ the Germans.

And during that time, he kept a journal of his thoughts, which was discovered and turned into a book called “Meditations” (a link to Amazon, but not an affiliate link. Enjoy!”

It’s probably one of the best condensed philosophies one can read on being a good person, accepting life, and being content.

Total Time: 2 mins

7. Music

This is really about priming myself. It depends on what mood I’m in, but I have 3 playlists I’ve created that are my go-to’s:

  1. Playlist 1: God Damn Right It’s A Beautiful Day  I use this playlist when I’m looking to get more upbeat. These are songs that just make me feel good.
  2. Playlist 2: J — This is a playlist compromised of my favorite Jay Z songs. I use this playlist when I need to get into Business / Hustle mode.
  3. Playlist 3: Chasing The Train — This is a playlist compromised of all John Coltrane songs I like. I use this playlist when I need to get into a creative / artist mood.

Total Time: 1 min (to choose and play on my Sonos)

8. Make Money

“Lock my body can’t trap my mind, easily
explain why we adapt to crime
I’d rather die enormous than live dormant that’s how we on it” — Jay Z

I look at my calendar and to-do list and place 3–5 items on my Mission Critical list. These are the 3–5 things that, no matter what, must be done today. These items are pulled from my 6 month Northstar, ladder to my 5 year gameplan, which ladders to my life mission (another story for another day).

I take those 3 items and rank them based on urgency, and revenue creation/cost savings — and then using a simple binary calculation find the most important item for the day.

  1. How urgent (1–10): 1 = Meh, 10=Fuck man… get to work!
  2. Revenue/Cost Savings ($X/hr.): How much $ comes in the door/stays in the door if this gets done divided by the amount of time I think it’ll take.
The Formula is Urgency X Rev = Rank

And then I work on the #1 highest ranked item on that list (Descending order). In fact — barring anything urgent (which almost nothing is more urgent than this) I refuse to walk out of my door until that item is done or nothing more can be done w/ that item. I’ll sit at home — where it’s nice and quiet and I’m in control of external stimuli — and work on #1 until it’s shipped.

Total Time: 30–90 mins

Total Morning Routine Time: 90–120 mins

And that’s it! By the time I walk out of my door, It’s like shooting out of a canon!

And when I get to the office (whether it’s 9AM or 11AM) I make a cup of tea, open email and make any adjustments I need to my Mission Critical list, and then try and spend some time working on solving someone else’s problem.

Getting Started

If you’ve never had a morning routine, this can feel extremely daunting. So my best advice is to start small.

Here’s a Sample Schedule to get started:

Week 1

  1. Make bed

Total Time: 5 mins

That’s it! Don’t try anything else, until you can get 5 days in a row.

Week 2

  1. Make bed
  2. Move (Just get in 5 pushups and 5 air squats)

Total Time: 10 mins

That’s it! Don’t try anything else, until you can get 5 days in a row.

Week 3

  1. Make bed
  2. Move (Just get in 5 pushups and 5 air squats)
  3. Meditate (Start w/ 5 mins)

Total Time: 15 mins

That’s it! Don’t try anything else, until you can get 5 days in a row.

And guess what?! Now you’ve got 15 days in a row of a 15 min morning routine, and you’ve created some momentum. You’ve found the “tiny hinges that swing open big doors”. And you just keep adding from there.

If you found this interesting, or useful I’d love it if you would recommend it, and share it on Facebook and Twitter.

And if you have a great morning routine you like, drop me a comment here. I’d love to hear what works for you.

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