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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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    Last Updated on April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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