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Do You Have A Morning Ritual?

Do You Have A Morning Ritual?

    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.

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    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:

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    • 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:

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    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.

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    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.

    Want your blog included in an upcoming article? Make sure to include a link in your comment. I’ll pick a few to share with tomorrow’s post.

    Follow Lifehack on Twitter here

    Image: source

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    Seth Simonds

    Seth writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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