By Dermott J. McVeigh
“In planning for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
One of the most effective strategies to mastering your productivity is to establish a morning routine that allows you to centre your thoughts, get your blood pumping and generate dopamine in your brain. Without it, your day is likely to be dominated by distraction and stress.
Morning routines aren’t necessarily easy to establish though and if you’re relying on will power to make a good morning routine stick, you will fail. Your morning routine needs to work for you and be enjoyable so that you naturally want to expand it. That’s what this article is about, helping you to create a morning routine that is enjoyable so that you don’t want to quit.
1. Evening planning
Let’s be honest, no one feels like getting straight into a bunch of chores as soon as they’ve got out of bed in the morning. To give your morning routine the best chance of being enjoyable, there is a certain amount of preparation that is needed the evening before. Think through the main elements of your planned morning routine and what resources you’re going to need. Here are some ideas:
- What temperature will the room be when you aim to get out of bed? If it’s going to be chilly then have a hoodie or a blanket ready.
- What food do you plan to have for breakfast? Get the food organized the night before and make sure the kitchen is at least moderately clean so that breakfast doesn’t feel like work.
- What exercise do you plan to do? Leave your exercise gear out the night before so that you can get straight into it.
Planning for your morning routine is essential.
2. Get your body ready
You also need to think about things that will have a negative physical effect on your body and make you feel less like getting out of bed. The two biggest issues that affect most people are dehydration and exercise. Your body will naturally dehydrate overnight and if you aren’t hydrated going to sleep, then you will likely feel tired and lethargic when you wake up. Restrict your coffee and alcohol in the evenings and try to get at least half a litre of water before your go to sleep.
Some evening exercise is a great way to get blood flowing into your muscles and make you feel much more like getting up early.
3. First things first
Most people don’t feel like bouncing out of bed and straight into the gym at 5am. Try to make your morning routine as easy as possible by doing the most enjoyable thing first. For me, thats 15 minutes of meditation when everyone else is still asleep.
If your plan is to get out of bed and relax into a chair for quiet and relaxed meditation, then you will be much more inclined to roll out of bed in the early morning. Especially after a few mornings of trying this routine you will find that is a great hybrid of sleeping and waking.
Try 15 minutes of meditation using any meditation technique. Don’t worry about getting it right, you can’t fail at this task. It’s all about appreciating the stillness and silence.
4. Coffee, coffee, coffee
Let’s be honest, most of us love the experience of tea or coffee in the morning. Well, now is the time for it in your morning routine. Taken before your meditation will make the relaxation more difficult, but taken now will help kick start your body for the day.
When you emerge from your meditation (and had coffee), you will be much more likely to be ready to engage in some exercise. If you’re in great shape then this could be your time for cross fit. Alternatively, if your fitness has seen better days, then now is the time to get moving. Go for a brisk walk, even if it’s only for 10 minutes. It will get your heart pumping and blood flowing but most importantly it will trigger the generation of dopamine in your brain. This is the neurotransmitter that makes you feel good and also helps your brain remember things (which is essential for what comes next).
The first meal of the day is critical for a productive morning. Without it your body will become frantic by mid-morning and you’ll be much more likely to indulge in high sugar snacks. Your body has been fasting for the past seven or eight hours and jump-starting your metabolism with a protein-rich breakfast such as cottage cheese, almonds, eggs, protein shakes, and Greek yogurt are great options. Stay away from high sugar foods!
7. Prime for the day ahead
Priming is an extremely powerful and quick method to prepare you for an amazing day, every day.
- Sit up straight with your chest out and breath deeply. Feel relaxation run down through your neck and into your back. (60 seconds)
- Change your breathing. 2 short breaths followed by one deep breath. (60 seconds)
- Place your hands on your heart and feel its power and strength as you breath into it. (60 seconds)
- Think of 3 things you are grateful for right now. Step into each picture in your mind and experience the emotion with as much depth as you can. (180 seconds)
- Visualise a ray of light beaming down from above you cleansing and healing your body. Ask for the best parts of your to be strengthened. (90 seconds)
- Send your energy back out into the universe to benefit all the people you’re close to and the people you will come into contact with today. (90 seconds)
- Think about 3 goals you would like to achieve. Take each one in turn and step into the mental picture of achieving the goal. Feel the emotion of success. (180 seconds)
- Stretch and reflect on the powerful work you have just completed. Prepare to dominate the day. (120 seconds).
- What’s the one thing?
Regardless of how busy you are, your plan for the day should include one thing that you will do that will progress you closer towards your goals. Aside from the obvious progress that comes from consistent action, making sure you do one thing every day towards your goals is essential to keep your goals at the top of your priority list in your sub conscious mind. Otherwise it is too easy for the urgent to overshadow the important.
Write the one thing down on a piece of paper or an index card and put it in your pocket and commit to getting it done.