How to Set up the Ultimate Morning Routine
Today, I want to talk about the importance of having a morning routine and also highlight all the things I have experimented with over the last couple of years in terms of building a routine that works for me.
When I was younger, I was never a morning person. In fact, growing up I was always last minute and rushed. I did not invest in the required time and effort to build a good foundation to start my day from. Cut to my second year in dental school, when a seemingly insignificant event completely turned my life around and changed my perspective about the importance of morning routines.
I remember the morning perfectly. We had an 8 a.m. lecture, so I woke up at 7:30. At the time, I lived quite close to dental school, so I would ride my bicycle over to class every day. Anyway, I woke up, got dressed, went downstairs, made myself a peanut butter sandwich and left for school, breakfast still in hand.
I recall I was cycling, when I had to dramatically swerve to avoid another bike in my path. The sandwich I was eating tumbled down from my hand into the morning rush hour traffic and miserably lay there as I biked away. That morning, I made a promise to myself – I’m never going to eat my breakfast on the go again. I needed to change the way I did things if I wanted to set myself up for success.
The Ultimate Morning Routine
My earliest introduction to the ultimate morning routine was in the hard-hitting book “The Miracle Morning”. It really opened my eyes to the morning habits of highly successful people. Hal Elrod’s quote “where you are is a result of who you were, but where you go depends entirely on who you choose to be, from this moment on,” really got me excited. I became obsessed with this concept and wanted to learn and take in all the powerful tactics he spoke about in the book. I wanted to take control of my daily narrative, right from the moment I woke up.
Time went on and I continued exploring different ways successful people spend their mornings. I kept listening to various podcasts and watching YouTube videos.
The first thing I experimented with in dental school was waking up a little earlier than usual and trying to learn something new each morning before leaving for class. I would make breakfast, sit down, watch a YouTube video, and explore my thoughts in a way I had never done before. This really helped me in setting up a good momentum for the rest of the day.
A couple lessons I learnt through my exploration and experimentation methods were:
- Routines don’t have to be locked in place
2. Routines don’t have to be jam-packed
Live a Life of Experimentation
There was a point in my life when I would tell myself – I’m going to meditate for 10 minutes, exercise for 30 minutes, then make breakfast and move on to the ten other things I have planned. Of course, the issue with this was that it became too much of a checklist. It wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed. And, as with most things you don’t enjoy, they never stick with you for long.
Different phases of your life will have different needs and necessities. For example, this year I picked up the habit of journaling. I challenged myself to a hundred days of journaling. Every day I would wake up, and before I got on the phone or made my morning coffee, I would sit down and write in my journal. I did that for a hundred days straight. It was amazing because I got to articulate my thoughts, and write down my goals and long-term plans. It was a glorious thing to experiment with. Nevertheless, once the hundred days were up, I said to myself – I think I’ve got enough value out of this activity, so let me try something else. I then went on to incorporate a new morning mobility routine for myself these last few months. The point i’m trying to make is, live a life of experimentation and try different things out to see what works for you best.
5 Tips to Set Up the Ultimate Morning Routine
Start the night before –
Your morning’s productivity level is decided from the night before. Bedtime procrastination can prevent you from waking up refreshed and recharged for the next morning. Avoid using electronic devices like phones, tablets and laptops for at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light in these devices can suppress the production of melatonin (a natural chemical in the body that regulates your internal “circadian rhythm”), causing you difficulty in falling asleep at night. Read a book or relax with some music before bed. Set an alarm for your bedtime and as soon as the alarm goes off, immediately fall into the bedtime routine you have planned for yourself.
Don’t try to tackle ten different things –
You don’t have to make big dramatic switch ups to your morning routine for it to be successful. It could be as simple as taking a cold shower instead of a hot one in the morning, reading a chapter of that book you’ve been meaning to read, exercising, or even calling up friends and family members you’ve been meaning to reconnect with. Choose one or two activities that you like and don’t load up your plate with more than you can handle.
One size doesn’t fit all –
Take up different activities and see how much you enjoy them. See if that activity is impacting your day or adding any value to it at all. Read a book, hit the gym, practice some mindfulness like journaling, meditation, or yoga. Whatever it is you like to do. Try it out and see if it is sustainable in the long run.. If it is, stick to it and if it isn’t, change it up with something else that interests you.
Don’t be so rigid –
We are all in different phases of our lives and have different needs. A morning routine, if executed well, can help you in fulfilling these specific needs. For example, if you’re into fitness and your day is quite busy, the morning could be a good time to take care of your workouts. If you don’t have time to exercise because of your hectic work schedule, try waking up a little earlier and getting your morning run in. Heading to the gym before work can give you a sense of control over your day. The same way, another person could accomplish another task they feel is more suited to their needs for e.g. tackling a particularly tough assignment first thing in the morning.
Get creative with personal challenges –
Set up little 30 day or 60 day challenges for yourself. Upon completing these challenges, it will be easier for you to anchor them into your existing habits because of all the conditioning you have done for one or two months. For instance, I’m doing a 60 day pushup challenge currently. While my morning coffee is brewing, I get down and quickly do my push-ups. The great thing is, I try to do five more each week. It may not seem like a lot, short-term, but fast forward a month or two later, and I have gone from doing 10-15 push-ups at a time to maybe 30-40 pushups in one go. It’s things like these that add a bit of spice to your life. You can keep yourself motivated by making only the slightest changes in your morning routine.
If you follow these tips, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a great morning routine that works for you. Let me know if any of these tips help you set up the ultimate morning routine for yourself. Goodluck!
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