If we’re lucky, on average, we get about 25,000 mornings in our lifetime – how are you going to use yours? After 286 interviews with the world’s most prosperous CEOs and entrepreneurs, studies by My Morning Routine show that most of these power players have established morning routines with the majority getting up at 6.30am after 7 hours sleep. 75% exercise before work and 64% practice some form of meditation or yoga. Many keep their electronic devices out of the bedroom to prevent disruption.
I’m not here to tell you how your morning routine should look but my intention is to give you some ideas to help you to create a morning routine which is right for you, at this point in your life. Be kind to yourself in the mornings. A morning routine is a personal gift to yourself – it’s a present for you to create and then unwrap each morning!
“Today is the most important day of your life”
Hal Elrod, Miracle Morning
Creating good habits and a morning routine is critical for a lifetime of success. It has the ability to set the tone for the whole day. It helps to combat mental fatigue, limiting your decision making at the start of the day. Too many choices can cause over-load or the tendency to make poor decisions. A good routine gives you control, means you are non-reactive, reduces anxiety and enables you to be more productive throughout the day.
Getting enough sleep is critical to having a successful morning routine. It’s helpful to know how many hours sleep you require. I know I need 7.5-8 hours sleep to function well, so if I want to get up before the children I need to go to bed on time. Prepare as much as you can the night before – set your intentions for the following day by noting down your top 3 priorities, get your clothes out and prepare any lunches etc. Think about your night time routine. Do you want to read, reflect on the day or make yourself a calming drink to help you to sleep?
It’s often tempting to hit the snooze button but those extra minutes of non-REM sleep are of no benefit. Arguing with yourself about getting up is also destructive. In her book, The 5-second Rule, Mel Robbins suggests counting down from 5 to 1 and then getting up, taking the decision away. I have found the best way for me is to have my alarm on the other side of the room so I have to get up to switch it off. And then I am up! (Although most of the time now I am awake before the alarm goes off.) You could try a sleep app which helps to monitor your sleep patterns and enable you to find your optimum wake up time. If you want to wake up earlier, bring your alarm forward by just 15 mins and build up gradually, making sure you are getting to bed at a reasonable time too. If you have a bad night with limited sleep, give yourself a break and get up early the following day.
Here are 6 elements of a good morning routine, extracted from Hal Elrod’s book, The Miracle Morning. Hal uses the acronym SAVERS.
S – Silence
Aim for a few precious minutes of silence, even if it’s in the shower. You could use a guided meditation if you prefer or white noise (try Tide). You could practice mindfulness, use the time to reflect, take some deep breaths or jot down things you are grateful for. Take time to listen to the noises around you.
A – Affirmations
These are mantras to repeat as a way of changing the pathways in your brain. Words spoken out loud or in your mind such as: I am hopeful; I persist with confidence; I trust myself in making great decisions. There’s an excellent 30 day affirmation challenge infographic from Brian Tracy.
V – Visualisation
This is creating mental pictures of specific behaviours and outcomes occurring (ie school meeting, difficult conversation). It’s prepping the brain for what is about to happen. The brain doesn’t know the difference between actually experiencing something and imagining it. Imagine your future self. How would they handle the situation you are facing today?
E – Exercise
I find exercising first thing in the morning really helps to get my day off to a good start. If this doesn’t suit you then try a few basic stretches to energise and wake you up for day ahead.
R – Reading
Learning from inspiring people is a great way to invest in your personal growth. Just reading a few paragraphs each day will motivate and challenge you to new ways of thinking. Books which have inspired me include: Playing Big by Tara Mohr; Awaken the giant within by Tony Robbins; The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters.
S – Scribing
This is journaling, putting pen to paper. It helps to clear your mind, gain clarity and accesses your left brain which is analytical and rational. Writing often enables past frustrations and future anxieties to lose their edge in the present moment. Journaling about positive experiences helps you to relive it, releasing important endorphins and dopamine. I currently journal under three headings – gratefulness, affirmations and intentions.
It can take time to find the right morning routine for you. Play around with different elements and see what works best. Creating a new habit also takes time, so persevere. The results will be worth it.