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How to Create Your Best Morning Routine for Success

How to Create Your Best Morning Routine for Success
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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.

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

More Useful Routines You Can’t Miss

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

More by this author

Bruno Boksic

An expert in habit building

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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