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Last Updated on February 25, 2018

Why I Have a Morning Routine and How It Makes Me Sharper Every Day

Why I Have a Morning Routine and How It Makes Me Sharper Every Day

Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, remarked that approximately 95% of our society settles for less than what they want in life. In fact, Elrod hit rock bottom after a tragic car accident. Then one morning he decided to go for a run and listen to a podcast and he was hooked. Once he committed to this newfound routine, he uncovered his path to success.

So, how can you avoid being in the 95% and join the 5% who live up to their potential in life? The answer is simple, you have to wake up! In the words of C.T. Fletcher,

“This is your wakeup call, this is your week to make it happen, wakeup the Hercules in you!”

My goal is to demonstrate to you why a morning routine will provide a literal boost in your life and how it will make you a mentally sharper person. I will then show you how to flip the switch and kickstart your own morning routine.

    Photo credit: Source

    My Crazy Morning Routine

    Consider this a revised edition to an article I previously published – 5 Ways My Crazy Morning Routine Will Transform You into Superman. Since I published my morning routine, I have continually tweaked it. I am attempting to manufacture the perfect morning routine, which will then manufacture the perfect day. Let me show you what my routine currently looks like.

    • 3:30 am: wake up, stretch, take a pre-workout supplement, do 80 push-ups, plank for 60 seconds or more, 30 bicep curls, and listen to an audiobook.
    • 4 am: take a nootropic, do 80 push-ups, plank for 60 seconds or more, 30 bicep curls, and run for 5 miles while listening to an audiobook.
    • 5 am: cool-down, shower, and personal hygiene while listening to an audiobook.
    • 5:30 am: use a posture belt and practice speed reading.
    • 6 am: write or research, do 80 push-ups, plank for 60 seconds or more, and 30 bicep curls.
    • 7 am: eat breakfast (unless intermittent fasting), drink Bulletproof coffee, write in 5-minute growth journal, and spend time with family before heading off to work.

      Photo credit: Source

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      Enter Beast Mode!

      Think about your normal routine. Do you find you are typically in a hurry, do you feel tired, or feel like your day always starts off poorly? This is how most people typically start their day.

      By entering Beast Mode and establishing a morning routine, you will set a positive tone for the day. In fact, it has been proven that morning types are more likely to report higher levels of a positive affect and are healthier than non-morning types.[1]

      Your morning routine should be your selfish time. This is time to spend improving you. If you wake up before everyone else, you will find you are free of distractions. If you carve out your own time every morning, you will find that you can focus on the important people in your life when they wake up. Think of it like putting your oxygen mask on first in the event of a crash landing.

      Increase Your ‘Aha’ Moments

      We should allow our brain to operate on autopilot every morning. People typically operate on autopilot when they mediate or go for a long run. When we do this, ideas just seem to just pop into our mind. Stop and think about what you were doing the last time you received an ‘aha’ moment. There is a good chance it came to you while you were meditating, exercising, or taking a shower. When you are on autopilot you are actually entering into what is known as the Default Mode Network (DMN).

      Andrew Smart, author of Autopilot: The Art & Science of Doing Nothing writes that our brain is more active when it is not focused on something specific; basically, it is idle. People typically think that we must be working and thinking all the time, however, neurologist Dr. Marcus Raichle found this to be dead wrong. In fact, he found that certain regions of our brain were deactivated during concentration, yet became super active when we were not focused on a task, where we were on autopilot or in DMN. [2]

      So, if you were ever looking for scientific proof for the importance of meditation or why taking a shower brought you a moment of brilliance, then look no further than DMN. Moreover, the most important thing I found with DMN is that I am able to maximize it with my morning routine. This in turn maximizes my creativity.

        Photo credit: Source

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        Kickstart Your Brain and Metabolism

        By waking up early, exercising, taking a cold shower, drinking a large glass of ice water, you will find that your brain and metabolism will function at a higher level. Again… think about it, you are doing more before 7am for your brain and metabolism than most people do in an entire day.

        Just as our brain is malleable, our metabolism is as well. Exercise physiologist Gary Ditsch remarked,

        “Your metabolism isn’t fixed. You can impact it significantly with your daily activity and diet.”

        Let’s look at how a morning routine can improve your brain and metabolism.

        • Exercising in the morning prepares the brain for optimal learning. Best-selling author and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard, Dr. John Ratey found that exercise is strongly correlated with increased brain mass, improved cognition, and new brain cell production. Neurogenesis is sparked by a magical substance known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Aerobic exercise is the optimal vehicle for the production of this magical substance.
        • A morning workout will help you burn more calories in a day. Similar to our car, we burn less fuel at rest compared to when we are moving. Simply put, the more active we are during the day, the more we burn, and the higher our metabolism. It’s simple math, the earlier you start burning calories, the more you will burn in a day.

        Now that you understand the importance and the why of a morning routine, let’s take a look at how you can create your own morning routine.

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          Hack Your Sleep

          Our ‘aha’ moments also increase the moment we wake up from a great night of sleep.[3]

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          So, how can you hack your sleep? Let’s take a look.

          • Avoid caffeine or sugar after 5pm.
          • Shut off your phone, TV, or computer 45 minutes before going to sleep.
          • Use a Fitbit (or similar device) to track your sleep.
          • Supplement with melatonin.

          Also, practice the following breathing exercise.

          The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise

          For this exercise, sit with your back straight, place the tip of our tongue behind your front teeth (upper), inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Then do the following: [4]

          • Make sure you exhale completely through your mouth.
          • Close your mouth while you inhale through your nose (count of 4).
          • Hold your breath (count of 7).
          • Exhale through your mouth (count of 8).
          • Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

          Wake up Early the Easy Way

          Let’s now take a look at some tips for waking up early.

          • Take a cold shower as soon as you wake up. I guarantee you this will shock your body and wake you up!
          • If taking a cold shower first thing in the morning is too extreme, try simply splashing cold water on your face.
          • Drink a large glass of ice cold water as soon as you wake up. This will also fire up your metabolism.
          • Move your alarm clock across the room so you have to force yourself to physically get up.
          • Sleep in your gym clothing.

          The Bruce Lee Challenge

          There are many paths we can take when formulating a plan to achieve our goals. I recently came across a unique way provided by travismcashan.com. Travis McAshan calls this The Bruce Lee Challenge. McAshan poses the following question,

          “The Bruce Lee Challenge starts by asking yourself one question: If you could make one simple change on a daily basis that would make the most significant positive change in your life, what would it be? What happens next is up to you…”

          Here is how you can establish your morning routine using The Bruce Lee Challenge.[5]

          • Step 1: Choose your goal. This could be simply starting a morning routine.
          • Step 2: Decide your key objective. Here you are looking to break your goal down into specific and measurable metrics that you can track. For example, let’s say you have the following goals: 1) Wake up every morning by 5am; 2) Run 5 days a week (starting at 5:30am); 3) Read for 30 minutes every morning.
          • Step 3: Commit for 21 days. Human mind takes nearly 21 days to adjust to major life changes. So, try sticking to your new morning routine for 21 days and see what happens.
          • Step 4: Take immediate action. This one is simple… get started now!
          • Step 5: Make a decision. After you have committed for 21 days, now it is time to make a decision. Are you going to continue your new morning routine or not?

          You Have to Want It!

          You can create the best strategy, outline successful and achievable goals, and have the greatest intentions; however, you have to want it. You have to become obsessed with it.

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          The key to success with anything is discipline plus desire. Recently, I wrote an article about C.T. Fletcher. C.T. aspires to be the best and the baddest man on the planet. Let’s see what C.T. has to say about being obsessed with success. [6]

          “If you don’t have the mental capacity to be that obsessed about what you’re trying to get… then you’re never going to have it.” – C.T. Fletcher

          C.T.’s mom used to tell him all the time that sometimes if he’s just a bit too high, he must be brought down. He will be taught a really bad lesson because there’s someone out there just badder than him. But he said no, somebody had got to be the baddest and it would be him.

          Finally, if you remember anything from this article, remember this,

          “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” – Eric Thomas

          Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

          Reference

          More by this author

          Dr. Jamie Schwandt

          Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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          Last Updated on December 2, 2018

          How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

          How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

          Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

          The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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          The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

          Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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          Review Your Past Flow

          Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

          Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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          Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

          Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

          Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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          Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

          Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

          We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

          Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

            Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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