The secret to a successful morning!

What is the secret to a successful morning routine?

I am a morning person, and I can arrive at work to start the day job with a sense of fulfilment following a productive morning because I have been up before 6 a.m. 

The morning is the best time for getting some stuff done. This practice is something I preach to many a person who listens, but I always get the feeling that the majority are humouring me when they nod in agreement. I can see it in their eyes. I can see the ‘are you frigging kidding me, get up two hours before I need to… are you crazy’ flickering across their face when I mention the benefits of an early rise. There is a noticeable shuffle of the feet, indicating a nervous avoidance when I state that I believe a day that kicks off so early is a much more productive day.

However, on a plus, I had someone tell me the other day that they had moved much of their daily routine to the morning, and they are getting so much more complete (or completed). From that comment, I have hope that some people listen and act on my morning routine sharing.

Forbidden City, Beijing, China. Photograph by Iain Robertson.

I have a specific morning routine, and it works for me. If you are going to set up a morning routine, make it work for you. Design your own and make it what you want it to be. This approach is part of what makes a successful morning. It would be best if you weren’t trying to squeeze in another person’s routine into your morning. It will not work, and it will demoralise you. Stick with what YOU want to do. But there are a few things to do to get the morning success that you would sincerely benefit from. 

1. Plan the night before. Layout your work clothes and pack your morning bag the night before. Batch cook food and have it container ready if that’s your thing. Organise whatever you need for that productive morning. If you are writing, then sharpen your pencils. If it is exercise, then get your kit ready and if it’s yoga, stretch out your mat.

2. Make the morning routine your own. Many people have a morning routine that they have polished over the years by giving allowance to the power of default. Get better by design. Decide what type of morning routine suits you, put that in place, and use the time wisely to bolster your longer-term strategies.

3. Organise your route and clear the path to your morning zone. There is no point in falling over discarded trainers or picking up dirty dishes on your way to your routine. This clutter will distract you and put you off balance, and you will be using them as an excuse for why you failed to execute.

4. Do not use your phone to sleep or awake because it will screw with your head and redden your eyes. Keep your phone far away, invest in an alarm clock and keep that on the other side of the room. If you have a nearby bathroom, put the alarm clock next to the toothbrush and paste. You will have to move to dull the noise of the alarm, and a fresh mouth is also an awakening experience.

5. Hydrate yourself first thing in the morning by jugging down some fresh, cool water. Add lemon if you want to get some energy but make it the night before, and don’t worry about the toothpaste and lemon mix. That car crash will open more of your senses.

6. Energise your body with some exercise. This effort can be for a prolonged period of time, and it is your thing, or it can be for a quick two-minute stimulus to get the blood going. It is your call because it is your design.

7. Do your thing. Again, this is what you want to do. You want to write, and then write. You want to paint, read or do something else, then just do that. Your design, but make it personal and link it to your passion.

8. Calm your mind before you leave your routine zone. Take the time to catch a breath and a reflective thought and begin to focus on your day. Repeat to yourself the positive mantra that gets you engaged for the day and makes you productively focused.

9. Plan a weekly goal for the sense of compounded achievement. Don’t kill it by aiming for the impossible goals. Just a gentle touch of what you might want to move forward on. It is a marathon, not a World Cup final. Pace yourself.

10. Make your exit easy with a pickup and go approach. Remember you have planned the out, so don’t overthink and get out of the house. Get direction and move with it at a deliberate pace.

11. Adjust and refine your mornings until you have satisfaction, and don’t be afraid to start again with some other central piece of work. There is no point in forcing in what won’t work, but there is every point in achieving the possible that seemed impossible.

12. Build the habit and celebrate the streaks of continuity. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was achieved through routine and alignment, and they knew how to throw a good celebration.

It is a struggle to get going with something new. It can feel like a brutal climb up a wet and windswept hill but persevere with it because the satisfaction is worth the pain.

If you need a further incentive, then think of the arithmetic. How many mornings and how many hours extrapolated over time will give you how many days back for your heavenly pursuits?

If you put an hourly financial cost to that gain of what you achieve and framed it against a paid-for education course, there is a clear conclusion.

There is gold in them there hills.

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