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Last Updated on February 19, 2020

How to Create Your Best Morning Routine for Success

How to Create Your Best Morning Routine for Success

The alarm sounds and you begrudgingly turn around in your bed, hitting the alarm clock with everything you got just to shut it down.

Another morning, another drag. You take yourself out of the bed and immediately curse the day starting this early, no matter how much time it actually is.

The rest of your day follows your morning and you feel out of energy, out of motivation and out of luck. You simply start to hate your days.

But what if I told you that your day doesn’t have to start like this? Your mornings can start out amazing and you can create energy where there was only fatigue before.

You can start and end your day in a much better way, feeling energized and actually enjoying it while getting things done. It all depends on your morning routine and here is how to create the best morning routine:

Sleep Cycles

Sleep cycles are the first thing I always focus on when someone needs help with theirs. Because you can do everything right when you wake up, but if your sleep itself was horrible and bad, there is almost nothing which can help you out the next day.

We are not a sum of parts, we are a holistic being where neglecting or damaging one part of the system will in turn damage the other part. And sleep is just a crucial part of the system, especially when it comes to motivating yourself and feeling energetic throughout the day.

Sleep cycles last for 1.5 hours and they mark the beginning and the ending of our sleep. We usually have a couple of them through the night and the best way to feel energized in the morning is to wake up when a sleep cycle ends.

So try to plan out 7.5 or even 9 hours a sleep every single night. 

And here is an example of the energy you get from waking up right when a sleep cycle ends:

Throughout the years, you must have had periods in your life where you fell asleep and woke up after an hour and a half, feeling like you just drank 5 cans of Red Bull and feel so energetic.

On the other hand, there are times when you sleep for 13 hours straight and still waking up so tired, feeling like you never ever slept.

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This is what sleep cycles do to us and the first thing is hitting them right.

You will probably miss out on sleep cycles at the beginning of creating a perfect morning routine and that is completely fine.

What you need to do to start hitting them is to go to bed every single night at the same time. Your body will get used to the time and will naturally start waking you up after enough sleep cycles have passed (some need more cycles, some less).

So it will happen to you that you start waking up before the alarm even goes off, feeling refreshed and actually wanting to get up from your bed, feeling already energized.

Find out more about the importance of your sleep cycles here: The Importance of Sleep Cycles on Productivity (+ Tips to Improve Yours)

But sleep cycles aren’t the only thing that constitutes the best morning routine for success.

“Me” Time Before “You” Time in the Morning

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

If you are like most people, you take your phone and start scrolling through your emails or messages that you received from people while you were asleep.

And that immediately saps your creative energy because as soon as you take your phone and start looking at emails and messages, you are putting your mind in a reactive mode for other people’s agendas.

Think about it — 99% of the things that you receive via email are other people’s agendas. It’s the tasks they want you to do for them, problems they need you to solve and obligations which make their lives easier and yours harder.

There is nothing inherently wrong with that but you need the right time slot for “You” activities and the right time slot for “Me” activities. “Me” activities are the ones which use your creativity to create things that you actually want to create.

So if you have a passion project which you said you will start working on years ago, now is the right time to put that project’s dedicated working time the first thing in the morning.

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As soon as you wake up, dedicate 30 minutes to just working on your passion project.

Why the first thing in the morning you ask? Because as soon as you exit REM phase and wake up, your mind is still working in the states of high creativity an low vibrations called the Delta state. This state is deeply connected with your unconscious mind which helps with creative tasks because you are still connected with the base of your creativity.

But the more time it passes in the day, the less we are able to connect to our Delta state. So to use the best of this state, you need to do your creative work as soon as you wake up.

I thought this was ridiculous. I was simply not a morning person and I hated writing in the morning. But as soon as I tried it, I noticed that my writing simply flows and that the best work I do, I do in the morning. So I continued reaping the benefits of that.

Dedicate the time in the morning for yourself first and afterward, you can start doing other people’s tasks. I have a rule that when I wake up, I don’t touch my phone and I don’t turn on WiFi until I did my morning writings.

Most of the time, it takes me around 40 minutes to write down everything and then I am allowed to check my email and see what else I need to do.

This creates an amazing feeling of productivity and pride that you did something meaningful for that day and it doesn’t fall off through the day. You feel that sense of achievement and carry it around yourself the entire day.

Other will people will start noticing this because your eyes will have a deeper gaze in them, you will be more focused and have this sense of gratitude for the day. As soon as you start doing it, you will exactly know what I am talking about.

But we are still not done. There is one more thing that you need to implement to start having amazing mornings and even better days.

And that concerns the fuel for your body and mind – the food you eat and the information you consume.

The Fuel for the Body and Mind

So we covered the sleep, the creative work and all that is left for our perfect morning routine is the fuel we use for everyday activities.

This fuel that we take is divided into categories – fuel for the body and fuel for the mind. They are both connected and one influences another and vice-versa because they are the like the two sides of the same coins.

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We can’t only focus on one and ignore the other one because it will have no effect whatsoever. As the Romans would say “Mens sana in corpore sano” which means “A healthy mind in a healthy body” so let’s start with that:

Fuel for the Body

One of the most discussed topics today is diet – the nutrients we take in which helps us function for the day. There is so much contradictory advice out there, different diets, ways of living, ways of lifting or ways of blending.

Some have a combination of different nutrients like carbohydrates, fats and proteins, some completely cut out carbs like Atkins, some tell you to remove only fat from the diet while others tell you to eat only 8 hours a day and spend the rest of the time ignoring food (intermittent fasting).

Some diets function as vegetarian, some as vegan and some are only eating meat, while some only count calories, completely ignoring everything else.

If all of this serves as a confusing factor, then welcome to the club.

So instead of me telling you what to eat here, which “school” to follow and which guru to listen, I will simply tell you what not to eat.

Most of the dietary people are wrong in many different things but also right in many others. Where the consensus happens is when it comes to the things that shouldn’t be in the diet.

Refined sugar is the number one culprit for killing your creativity and energy throughout the day. If you just remove this from your diet, you will have twice as more energy as you do right now.

Refined sugar is not only bad for your health but deeply affects your energy levels. You can find refined sugar in fizzy drinks and sweets which you should cut out from your diet.

The next thing is fast food – our favorite cheat meal. If you enjoy hamburgers and pizzas (I know, I know, I kill all the fun), it’s time to cut it out from your diet. Especially from the fast food joints whose only benefit of the food is that it tastes good – everything else in that meal is designed to kill you and to kill you fast.

And the last and the hardest thing is to cut out “3 white deaths” – sugar, salt and flour from your diet. These three in combination cause the biggest amount of harm to your body and if you can, you should try to minimize their intake in your body.

This is half the equation. The other one is the mind.

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Fuel for the Mind

The news are fighting to keep your attention on them and we have an attention span of 6 seconds right now, which is 2 seconds less than that of a goldfish.

To get your attention, the media needs to find extremes and put it out there so that you will notice that. Because there is no drama in normal, everyday activities. So they only report the news from the two ends of the bell curve – the extreme positives and extreme negatives and most of it falls in the extreme negatives.

With that, you get a negative picture of the world we live in today even though by all parameters, the world is getting better than ever before.

As a saying would go “The world is not getting worse. The information is getting better.”

I’m not going to spend more time talking about the negative sides of the news. Instead, I will urge you to read more- but not yellow pages.

Read books which stand the test of time, read in-depth articles which have been written by a serious journalist, not some hacks spending six minutes on the article and then crafting a compelling click-bait title to lure you in.

You will notice how your perception of the world changes and how you seem to view the world differently. It’s no longer that grim place, it’s a place of endless opportunity and infinite options.

All of this will make you more energetic and cheerful because you will start noticing opportunities where other people see problems.

You become what you consume so choose really carefully what you will put in your mind because you will create your output in life from those inputs.

Final Thoughts

I could have written a huge list of 30 things which would create the best morning routine. Instead of that, I created a list of only 3 things you need to focus on and the rest will follow.

A list of 30 things is non-applicable, but a list of 3 is.

When you follow the Pareto principle, you will notice that 80% of your results will only come from 20% of your actions.

These 3 above are your “20%” – use them.

More Useful Routines You Can’t Miss

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Bruno Boksic

An expert in habit building

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

How to Prevent Decision Fatigue From Clouding Your Judgement

What is decision fatigue? Let me explain this with an example:

When determining a court ruling, there are many factors that contribute to their final verdict. You probably assume that the judge’s decision is influenced solely by the nature of the crime committed or the particular laws that were broken. While this is completely valid, there is an even greater influential factor that dictates the judge’s decision: the time of day.

In 2012, a research team from Columbia University[1] examined 1,112 court rulings set in place by a Parole Board Judge over a 10 month period. The judge would have to determine whether the individuals in question would be released from prison on parole, or a change in the parole terms.

While the facts of the case often take precedence in decision making, the judges mental state had an alarming influence on their verdict.

As the day goes on, the chance of a favorable ruling drops:

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    Image source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

    Does the time of day, or the judges level of hunger really contribute that greatly to their decision making? Yes, it does.

    The research went on to show that at the start of the day the likelihood of the judging giving out a favorable ruling was somewhere around 65%.

    But as the morning dragged on, the judge became fatigued and drained from making decision after decision. As more time went on, the odds of receiving a favorable ruling decreased steadily until it was whittled down to zero.

    However, right after their lunch break, the judge would return to the courtroom feeling refreshed and recharged. Energized by their second wind, their leniency skyrockets back up to a whopping 65%. And again, as the day drags on to its finish, the favorable rulings slowly diminish along with the judge’s spirits.

    This is no coincidence. According to the carefully recorded research, this was true for all 1,112 cases. The severity of the crime didn’t matter. Whether it was rape, murder, theft, or embezzlement, the criminal was more likely to get a favorable ruling either early in the morning, or after the judges lunch break.

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    Are You Suffering from Decision Fatigue Too?

    We all suffer from decision fatigue without even realizing it.

    Perhaps you aren’t a judge with the fate of an individual’s life at your disposal, but the daily decisions you make for yourself could hinder you if you’re not in the right head-space.

    Regardless of how energetic you feel (as I imagine it is somehow caffeine induced anyway), you will still experience decision fatigue. Just like every other muscle, your brain gets tired after periods of overuse, pumping out one decision after the next. It needs a chance to rest in order to function at a productive rate.

    The Detrimental Consequences of Decision Fatigue

    When you are in a position such as a Judge, you can’t afford to let your mental state dictate your decision making; but it still does. According to George Lowenstein, an American educator and economy expert, decision fatigue is to blame for poor decision making among members of high office. The disastrous level of failure among these individuals to control their impulses could be directly related to their day to day stresses at work and their private life.

    When you’re just too tired to think, you stop caring. And once you get careless, that’s when you need to worry. Decision fatigue can contribute to a number of issues such as impulse shopping (guilty), poor decision making at work, and poor decision making with after work relationships. You know what I’m talking about. Don’t dip your pen in the company ink.

    How to Make Decision Effectively

    Either alter the time of decision making to when your mind is the most fresh, or limit the number of decisions to be made. Try utilizing the following hacks for more effective decision making.

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    1. Make Your Most Important Decisions within the First 3 Hours

    You want to make decisions at your peak performance, so either first thing in the morning, or right after a break.

    Research has actually shown that you are the most productive for the first 3 hours[2] of your day. Utilize this time! Don’t waste it on trivial decisions such as what to wear, or mindlessly scrolling through social media.

    Instead, use this time to tweak your game plan. What do you want to accomplish? What can you improve? What steps do you need to take to reach these goals?

    2. Form Habits to Reduce Decision Making

    You don’t have to choose all the time.

    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it doesn’t have to be an extravagant spread every morning. Make a habit out of eating a similar or quick breakfast, and cut that step of your morning out of the way. Can’t decide what to wear? Pick the first thing that catches your eye. We both know that after 20 minutes of changing outfits you’ll just go with the first thing anyway.

    Powerful individuals such as Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, and Mark Zuckerberg don’t waste their precious time deciding what to wear. In fact, they have been known to limiting their outfits down to two options in order to reduce their daily decision making.

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    3. Take Frequent Breaks for a Clearer Mind

    You are at your peak of productivity after a break, so to reap the benefits, you need to take lots of breaks! I know, what a sacrifice. If judges make better decisions in the morning and after their lunch break, then so will you.

    The reason for this is because the belly is now full, and the hunger is gone. Roy Baumeister, Florida State University social psychologist[3] had found that low-glucose levels take a negative toll on decision making. By taking a break to replenish your glucose levels, you will be able to focus better and improve your decision making abilities.

    Even if you aren’t hungry, little breaks are still necessary to let your mind refresh, and come back being able to think more clearly.

    Structure your break times. Decide beforehand when you will take breaks, and eat energy sustaining snacks so that your energy level doesn’t drop too low. The time you “lose” during your breaks will be made up in the end, as your productivity will increase after each break.

    So instead of slogging through your day, letting your mind deteriorate and fall victim to the daily abuses of decision making, take a break, eat a snack. Let your mind refresh and reset, and jump-start your productivity throughout the day.

    More Tips About Decision Making

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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