This article is the 3rd in the 6-part series, Lifehack Challenge: Become An Early Riser In 5 Days. If you’d like to join, leave a comment that includes your promised wake-up time. The hard part is actually getting out of bed!

Do you have a morning ritual? For years my grandfather started his day the exact same way. At 4:30am he’d wake, put on his bathrobe, walk to the kitchen and put two eggs on to boil. Then he’d put on a pair of slippers (or boots in the winter) and walk to the end of his very long driveway to pick up the day’s newspaper.

When he arrived back at the kitchen, he’d pour the boiling water off the eggs to make coffee. (Kinda gross, but it worked for him.) By the time the coffee was ready, the eggs had cooled enough to eat with a slice of well-jammed bread as he read the entire paper.

This week’s challenge is about rising early. But more than rising early, it’s about rediscovering productivity at the start of your day. You need not wake at the crack of dawn in order to have a productive start to your day. But you do need to take a close look at how you start your day and figure out how to get more from it. Establishing a morning ritual is one good way to do just that.

Why a Morning Ritual?

A morning ritual is something you do every day as part of your morning. My grandfather enjoyed egg water coffee over a newspaper as part of his morning ritual. You might enjoy yoga, singing ABBA tunes at the top of your lungs, or sipping coffee in quiet reverie. What you choose to do doesn’t matter as much as why you do it and what you get out of doing it repeatedly. There are some specific benefits to maintaining a morning ritual:

  • A morning ritual gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning. We all need something to get out of bed for! Once you’ve found the right mix of action and stillness, sound and silence that gets your day off to a perfect start you’ll never want to miss out on your ritual.
  • It becomes as much a habit as getting out of bed at a certain time. Your alarm goes off and there’s no need to think about what you’ll do next. You simply do what you always do.
  • Starting your day with a few simple tasks is an easy way to begin a cycle of results that’ll power you through your day. Something as small as a nicely made bowl of oatmeal may not seem like a big accomplishment until you’re having a hard day and realize that going through the motions of your morning ritual makes the day easier.
  • Your morning ritual will help you enjoy the luxury of time you’ve given yourself by rising at an appropriate time. (Notice I didn’t say “early.” You might be working on an evening ritual!)
  • A morning ritual is entirely about you. Sure, you’ll have to deal with other people at some point in your morning. If you’re lucky, you’ll get at least a few minutes of time just for you. This is your chance to center yourself and embrace your day instead of fleeing before it.

Once you’ve decided that you’d like to have a more structured morning ritual, you’ll want to set aside some time to experiment with what works best for you. The easiest way to get such a block of time is by waking a bit earlier than you would otherwise.

Getting Started

Getting started with a morning ritual isn’t especially difficult because we each have things we’re already doing every morning. The thing to keep in mind with a morning ritual is that you’re hoping to achieve a certain state of mind in going through the motions of your morning.

5 Steps to putting your morning ritual into place:

  1. Draft a short list of the things you do each morning and what you’d like to add.
  2. Figure out how much time it’ll realistically take to do everything on your list.
  3. Adjust your wake time to accommodate your new ritual.
  4. Go through your list each morning for at least 2 mornings before making adjustments.
  5. Once your adjustments are made, enjoy!

You can use these steps no matter what your perfect wake time. It might be good to have your list handy until you can get everything done through your brain’s early morning fog without issue. If part of your ritual involves exercise, that fog won’t stay around for long!

Then What?

Once you have the basics of your morning ritual in place, it’s time to optimize for increased productivity. Is there a personal project you’d like to get a head start on with a few minutes of focused attention each morning? Do you want to write a book, learn a foreign language, correspond via snail mail, or build a blog? We all know the value of putting time each day toward reaching a certain goal. The rhythm of your morning ritual will lend itself to daily participation in projects you might never get around to otherwise.

Remember when you’d rush out of bed, barely shower, and head out the door on your way to work without noticing the world around you? Those stressful starts can be gone for mostly-ever if you’re willing to put the time and effort into creating a morning ritual that adds joy to your day. That’s what lifehacks are supposed to be about anyhow, yes? Figuring out the shortest path to a better life? I hope so.

If you have any tips to add or even a summary of your morning ritual, we’d love to read it!

Here are a few links to readers blogging about their Lifehack Challenge experience.

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