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What you do after you wake up can set the tone for your entire day.
Or so they say…
It hadn’t been my experience that how I started a day made much impact on the rest of it at all. To be honest, every day felt about the same.
That is until I stumbled on a powerful morning routine that created positive momentum and had me spending my time more intentionally and in a more productive way.
That’s what I’ll be sharing here.
The Purpose & Value of Routine in Productivity
There’s a lot of talk about morning routines out there.
And while I will tip my hat to anyone who’s part of the 5 AM Club and has a 12-point morning routine, it has never been my style, and hasn’t worked for me.
Truthfully, I’ve often thought of a routine as a fluid thing. Because the moment you think you’ve got something that works, it begins to grow stale and makes life too predictable, too boring, and ultimately, unproductive – which is the opposite of the desired effect.
If your routine isn’t serving you now, then you are serving the routine. But your routine should always be in service to you.If your routine isn’t serving you now, then you are serving the routine. But your routine should always be in service to you. Click To Tweet
Occasionally, though, I still stumble upon routines that work for me. And right now, I have a morning routine that works surprisingly well.
It’s entirely possible it’ll stop working for me at some point, but right now, it’s serving me perfectly.
Here’s what it is.
Step #1 – Put Headphones on & Go for a Walk
I like to listen to podcasts. So, before I do anything else, I grab my phone, plug in my headphones, and begin listening to a podcast.
The temptation is to stare at a screen first thing in the morning, and that’s something I wanted to put a stop to. But listening to a podcast gives me a sense of being connected while I’m not actively staring at a screen, which is perfect.
From there, I will put my shoes on, head out the door, and go for a 35-minute walk.
Getting some exercise first thing in the morning gets your blood pumping, and some of your best ideas also tend to come to you while you’re walking.
We all know the health benefits of walking and being in the sun. But there are some fascinating psychological benefits too.
Walking for Health says:
It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. Physically active people have up to a 30% reduced risk of becoming depressed, and staying active helps those who are depressed recover.
So, whoever said it was a better idea to stay inside your home than to go outside for a walk hasn’t a hot clue about health or science.
Step #2 – Meditate
The idea with this morning routine is to make seamless transitions from one part to the next. Otherwise, there’s too much friction for it to be effective or productive.
Typically, when I meditate, I will set the stage by putting a guided meditation on, lying in bed, closing my eyes, and focusing on my breathing.
But when I do it as part of this morning routine, once I’ve returned from my walk, I simply walk over to my bed, lie down, close my eyes, and continue to listen to the podcast episode until it is finished.
Sometimes that will be five minutes. Sometimes it will be closer to 30 minutes.
Either way, I don’t have to think about turning a screen on to find and play a guided meditation, again saving my eyes and avoiding unnecessary screen time.
Doing it this way takes a lot of the guesswork out of meditation as well.
“Should I do it this way? Or should I do it that way?”
No, simply lie in bed, close your eyes, and be with yourself until the podcast episode is done.
After walking and meditating, you should feel fresh and energized. I envy anyone who says they wake up that way, because that has rarely been my experience. But even if you do wake up fresh, walking and meditating can still set a positive tone for the rest of the day.
Healthline has identified 12 science-backed benefits of meditation, including:
Reduced stress, improved sleep, decreased blood pressure, and more.
Step #3 – Publish
Since the end of July, I have been in the habit of publishing daily. This has started to look a little different over time, but the point is that I have not broken the chain.
So, after I have finished my walk, my meditation, and my podcast episode, I’m ready to engage in the first part of my day. And most of work life is filled with writing, so I turn my attention to writing.
If you aren’t in the habit of publishing, or it is not an important part of your day, then simply replace it with whatever creative work is, be it writing a poem, working on a painting, recording demos, or otherwise.
After the walk and meditation, I find my ideas have started to solidify, to where most of the article is already written in my head. I just need to get in down in digital ink from there.
I’m not necessarily trying to reach a certain word count. Because I have more to say on some topics, and less to say on others.
The goal is to finish a piece that I can schedule for publishing on my blog at 2 PM (that’s another decision I don’t make).
Step #4 – Eat
For the latter part of 2019 and most of 2020, I practiced intermittent fasting. So, I got used to skipping breakfast.
This is not what I’m practicing now (mostly because I burned out at the top of September), but the point is I don’t find myself needing to eat until after I’ve finished publishing. Likely because I’ve got a lot of practice with intermittent fasting.
At this point in the day, it would be easy to prepare two meals (one for now, one for later), so that I don’t need to stop in the middle of the day to make another meal.
This isn’t to say I work right through the day without stopping. I find it hard to focus beyond 90- to 120-minutes, so it’s worth taking a break every two hours if not more frequently.
The point is that, by the time I’ve worked my way through the routine, I feel energized, and I feel good enough about myself and what I’ve achieved that it sets me up for additional wins throughout the day.
I might spend additional time learning and reading, working out, and doing other productive and beneficial activities that don’t revolve around screen time.
And that’s why this routine is so powerful. It’s easy to do, there’s basically no thinking involved, and by the time you’ve completed it, you’ve created enough momentum in a positive direction that you’re more likely to follow through on that positive momentum throughout the rest of the day.
Powerful Morning Routine, Final Thoughts
In these strange times, self-care could not be more important. If you aren’t intentional about your mental, emotional, and physical health, you will pay a price for it, just as I did.In these strange times, self-care could not be more important. Click To Tweet
And while I’m no doctor, and this is not health advice, I think it wise to examine your daily routine and ensure that you’re spending sufficient time in self-care. You will be more productive as result.
What morning routines have worked for you?
Let me know in the comments.
Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.
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