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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

    More by this author

    Seth Simonds

    Seth writes about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on January 13, 2020

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

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

    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

    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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