Ever since the beginning of time, people have understood what is important about mornings. Rising with the sun, (or before), has been something that people have done for centuries. If you were running a farm, you’d have to rise before the sun came up in order to get all of the work done.
But now, just like back then, mornings still suck.
You only had so much daylight and you had to spend it wisely — the same applies today. Except back then, there were no phones to be distracted by, snooze buttons to post-pone the inevitable time you have to wake up, or screens to mess up melatonin production.
“Every morning, I wake up saying, ‘I’m still alive, a miracle.’ And so I keep on pushing.” — Jim Carrey
How can we return to the ways of those who got so much real work done, and apply what they knew about themselves and the world to the way we do our work today? Here are six of my own answers to that ever-important question:
1 | Don’t check your phone first thing
When you check your phone first thing in the morning, you are caving to an addiction, hijacking any positive and motivating thoughts you might have woken up with, and distracting yourself from the opportunity of time you have to spend in front of you.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” — Stephen Covey
If you’re still doubtful, try it. For a few days, don’t plug your phone in beside your bed or even in your bedroom. Take your phone charger out of its socket and move it to the bathroom or the kitchen. Wake up with an alarm clock, and have your morning routine materials set up. You’ll be too tired to go find it, and will, hopefully, end up doing something different instead.
Try it — I bet you won’t regret it.
2 | Implement the miracle morning
Many have called this the Hour of Power, and implement it accordingly. This is an hour, give or take, dedicated to YOU. This time is not for your email, or for creating a to-do list, or for doing menial tasks dedicated to your low energy moments in the afternoon. This time is for you to do the most important work for you — without interruption or input from others.
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” — Peter Drucker
I have a tracker for my Miracle Morning, and for the entire month of December, aside from a few days I was out of town, completed and checked off the elements of my Miracle Morning every day. The elements, outlined by Hal Elrod in his book The Miracle Morning, are meditation, affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, and journaling.
I usually will start off the morning with this outline, doing meditation with the Headspace app, read a list of affirmations from my journal, drink coffee and look over my vision board (both a physical one and a board on Pinterest — I know, female productivity and their Pinterest boards), exercise at my gym, read a chapter from my current book, and journal/plan the day with my bullet journal by Ryder Carroll. Having this structure in the morning had radicalized my days, weeks, and months.
“Remember, the moment you accept total responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you claim the power to change anything in your life.” — Hal Elrod
And if you feel like you don’t have enough time to get these habits done, you might want to check out another post I wrote called You Have Enough Time. Just the act of writing and researching it for myself showed me how much time I have in a cycle of a week not to only get work done and enjoy time with friends, but to spend time alone growing myself.
3 | Track your habits
Every morning, I get up and complete my miracle morning, drink water, make my bed, and post on my business’ social media. All of these are included in a habit tracker at the front of my morning journal.
This way, there’s no question of what I’m supposed to be doing.
I know exactly what I’m going to be doing in the morning, and I get the satisfaction and dopamine boosts from filling out the tracker with my progress and mini-accomplishments.
Make sure that you track your behavior in the morning — that way you get both the satisfaction of checking the boxes, and the awareness of when you’re falling behind on some of your most crucial habits. This habit has been a game-changer for me before 7 am.
[ Read More: How To 10X Everything In Your Life ]
4 | Exercise in some way
I’ve always enjoyed waking up and moving my body in some way, but it wasn’t until I started researching it that I realized how vital a keystone habit it can be in your life.
“Exercise not only changes your body, it changes your mind, your attitude and your mood.” — Unknown
If you’ve never heard that term before, a keystone habit is any habit that helps you to create and maintain more habits with greater efficiency and effectiveness. Working out/exercising in the morning serves this purpose because of how it gets your body started for the day.
“In a 2018 study published in the International Journal of Obesity, 2,680 college students completed a 15-week exercise program. Each week involved three 30-minute sessions of cardio. The students weren’t asked to change their eating patterns. Yet, those who stuck with the program made healthier food choices, like eating less red meat and fried foods. While the study didn’t test for the best time of day to exercise, the findings show how exercise can inspire healthier eating.”
From Healthline’s: 13 Benefits of Working Out in the Morning
Exercise is productive in and of itself, but it can also help you to continue to be productive further along into your morning. Not only does exercising help you to eat better, though. Exercise can help you to build momentum for further harder tasks in the day, inspire you to drink more water, and therefore help your brain to work more efficiently, and more.
5 | Drink cold water as soon as you wake up
When you think about it, water is literally what’s keeping you alive. You are about 75% made up of water, and so when you drink it, you are giving yourself life. If you’re like the average American, you probably wake up tired, sleepy, with a headache, and maybe even some dizziness. When I’m in a stage of the month where I’m particularly addicted to coffee, I most certainly feel this.
“If you have a very hot experience then shock yourself with cold water, it’s very very good for the nervous system.”- Gwyneth Paltrow
What’s interesting, is that those are all symptoms of dehydration.
Let me be the last person to tell you this before you decide to actually do something about it: You wake up every morning in a state of dehydration. You need to do something about it immediately after you wake up. Water helps you to breathe, think, lose weight, wake up, regulate your body temperature, and, dare I say — be productive.
Don’t deprive your mornings of something your body so desperately needs and craves every day.
6 | Wake up at the same time consistently
I’m convinced that we go through miniature traumas every day. Whether it’s a scare while driving, some frightening news, or a jarring statement by a friend, you go through a lot every day. On that note, stop scaring your body by jarring it awake at different times every day.
[Read more here: 5 Reasons Why You *Shouldn’t* Try To Wake Up At 5am Every Day]
We get used to what we do regularly.
Be intentional with the time you wake up. One of the key tenants of the lives of the most productive people on the planet is consistency — they do similar things at similar times in similar ways, every day. This doesn’t take away creativity and discipline, it adds to that person’s ability to practice them.
Your body and your productivity benefit when you wake up at the same time. Pick a time that you can wake up on at a regular basis. This will help you go to bed on time every night, and to wake up knowing what time it will be, what the sun outside will look like, and more.
“He that rises late must trot all day.” — Benjamin Franklin
While I’ve fallen out of my habit recently, during the second half of December and the second half of January I woke up every morning sometime between 6–6:30. Not only did I get used to going to bed at 10 pm to make this plausible, but I learned what the sun looked like. My habit trigger wasn’t my alarm anymore, it was waking up to my alarm and then realizing that the sun was right where it needed to be to wake up.
Make waking up less of a painful thing — make it something that marks the beginning of a new, incredible, productive day. Be consistent, and build the habit of waking up at the time you want, all of the time.
Productive people are consistent people.
7 | Eat the frog
Your frog isn’t email. Your frog isn’t outlining something menial. Your frog isn’t something that you’ll do anyway eventually. Your frog is the most important thing to you. It can be urgent or non-urgent, but it needs to be important. While the frog is your worst task, it is also the one that you are going to get the most satisfaction from completing.
“Ordinary people think merely of spending time, great people think of using it.” — Arthur Schopenhauer
Do your BIG THING in the morning. It will get you ready for every other big and great thing you have before you in your day. Best way to keep your morning and your day productive? Start it that way. [Read more here: 5 Ways To Guarantee You’ll Do What You Plan To Do In The Morning]
Good luck, and have a great morning.
Stay tuned for more articles featuring the morning, evening, and daily habits of leaders of the past and of the present. Also, if you’re interested, click the link below to read my new Kindle book, On Purpose: Discovering Who You Are With The Enneagram.