The Power of a Morning Routine

Over the past few months I’ve been working to build a solid morning routine in order to improve my productivity, health, and wellbeing.

Currently, my routine is as follows:

  • 5:48am – Alarm, get out of bed, drink glass of water
  • 5:50 to 6:00 – Eat breakfast, consisting of 30 grams of protein, which I have shopped and prepared for on Sunday
  • 6:00 to 6:10 – Shower
  • 6:10 to 6:15 – Dry off, shave if needed
  • 6:15 to 6:20 – Get dressed
  • 6:20 to 6:30 – Meditate and stretch
  • 6:30 to 6:35 – Brush teeth
  • 6:35 to 6:55 – Write down all the things I plan to do that day
  • 6:55 to 7:00 – Pack bag, water plants, leave for the bus
  • 7:00 to 7:30 – Bus/Walk to work while listening to an audiobook
  • 7:30 Arrive at work
  • 7:30 to 8:30 – Read
  • 8:30 to 8:45 – Prioritize all daily tasks, estimate time required for each one, and write out daily to-do list
  • 8:45 – Start working!

I’ve gone through a number of iterations in landing on this current routine, but doing so has allowed me to significantly improve the way I approach each day.

Our bodies operate on cycles, and by helping your body become accustomed to a specific rhythm, you’ll feel more energized both in the morning and throughout the day. Setting that morning routine also makes it a lot easier to get out of bed.

A mentor of mine taught me that you have to control your day – you can’t let your day control you. This starts from the minute you wake up, and by being intentional about how you spend you’re morning, you’re taking control of your own day, and ultimately your own life. Furthermore, in order to build better habits, incorporating these tasks into your morning routine can greatly increase the likelihood of success. I’m in the process of building a meditation habit, so I do that in the morning and haven’t missed a day since I started.

Make sure you take the time to write out, in detail, everything you want to accomplish in the morning. This will force you to estimate the time required to perform each task, as well as keep you focused on the things you have to do each morning. Doing so allows you to eliminate time wasting activities that aren’t serving you well.

Some people like to wake up early, others don’t. Regardless of what time your alarm goes off, setting a morning routine can help you control your day, be more productive, and live a healthier life.

Build Good Habits

Why is it important to build good habits?

Because they are the foundation for how you live your life.

From the moment you wake up, your mind controls your body based on the conscious and subconscious habits you have formed over time. These can be beneficial, like brushing your teeth every morning, or they can be detrimental, such as chewing your nails when you get anxious.

Building good habits has two critically important effects:

1. It makes it easier to do the things that are hard.

When a behavior becomes a habit, not doing an action causes a bit of pain. By building habits around actions that require significant effort, you can reduce the associated perceived effort.

Things that many consider to be good habits, like exercising regularly and eating well, can be difficult to accomplish because of the amount of effort required to do them. However, when you build a habit of running every morning and eating 30 grams of protein within 30 minute of waking up, your body will actually experience a feeling of distress when you don’t do this.

Charles Duhigg explains in The Power of Habit habits have a distinct structure: they start with a cue, that leads to a routine, and gets capped by a reward . By understanding how this loop works, you can teach your brain to crave behaviors that require immense amounts of effort.

2. It frees your conscious brain from having to make decisions.

When something becomes a habit, by definition, that action becomes almost involuntary.

We also know that willpower is a finite resource, which helps explain why it’s harder to maintain discipline at the end of the day than at the beginning.

As you build habits, particularly around things that are hard and require significant willpower, your conscious brain no longer has to use the precious willpower muscle to accomplish those tasks. They become automatic. This frees your mind to focus on the important decisions you face during the day, making you more effective in everything you do.

Habits explain why Barack Obama only wears a navy or gray suit and Warren Buffet spends 80 percent of his day reading. They can’t not act in these ways.

And they’re better off for it, because by mastering your habits, you master yourself.