Does your day ever get off-course before it’s even started?
Maybe you woke up late, feel rushed and stressed from the moment your eyes open.
Or you drag yourself out of bed to your computer with great intentions, but somehow you end up surfing the web aimlessly, again.
You might think your problem is lack of motivation or willpower, but chances are you simply don’t have a good morning routine in place.
Most of what we do is habit. We get up at roughly the same time every day and start our day in roughly the same way.
By consciously choosing and adopting new habits, you can:
- Save time by being more efficient.
- Save energy by reducing the choices you have to make each morning.
There’s a very good book called Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg that goes into explaining why we do what we do.
I’m often asked about my daily routine and how I manage my time across my businesses. It all starts with my morning routine.
Here’s how to build your fool-proof routine:
Step #1: Decide When You Want to Get Up
I get up around 4:00 am. That may or may not be right for you, but if you currently struggle establishing a solid morning routine, then I highly recommend waking up early because it will supercharge your day.
If you’re currently getting out of bed at 8:00 am, then you’re obviously not going to start waking up at 4:00 am or 5:00 am straight away.
Try 7:30 am for a week, then 7:00 am and so on.
What matters here is consistency. You can’t build a powerful morning routine if you frequently oversleep, rush into your day, and put off all the stuff you’d planned to get done before breakfast.
And, while it might be tempting to have a lie in on the weekend, you’ll find it easier to stick to a wake up routine if it’s a seven-day-a-week habit.
Step #2: Figure Out How Long You Have
Your morning might not look much like mine. Perhaps you really don’t have a lot of time before you need to get kids off to school, turn up to your day job, take care of housework, or whatever it might be.
Don’t start planning a brilliant morning routine that’s going to take twice as long as your availability. Figure out how long you can definitely commit each morning.
Even if you only have 30 minutes to spare, that’s long enough for a productive morning routine that gives you a good start on the day.
Step #3: Use a Checklist of Powerful Morning Tasks
The first hour of your day sets the tone for the rest of it. If you get up at 4:00 am and spend your first hour browsing Buzzfeed or Facebook, then you’re setting yourself up for a day of distractions.
By having a list of morning tasks that are meaningful and significant, you can get your day off to a great start. You’ll have a bunch of things ticked off your to-do list while most people are still in bed.
It’s important that you write down your checklist because you don’t want to waste precious time and energy trying to remember what you want to do.
And by sticking with the same (or similar) tasks each day, you’ll turn them into a habit, making productivity almost automatic.
There’s no one “perfect” checklist, but you might want to consider some of the following:
- Stepping back from the day-to-day. This might be meditation, journaling, reviewing your goals, or anything that helps you see the bigger picture.
- Habits that boost your health. Think about working out, eating a good breakfast, or even simply remembering to brush and floss.
- Tackling quick-win daily tasks. These could include reading content and setting up links to the best on Buffer, reviewing and updating one old blog post, or emailing three contacts you want to strengthen your relationship with.
- Boosting your skills and knowledge. Maybe you’ll read 10 pages of a business-related book, practice guitar for 10 minutes, or listen to a podcast that relates to something you want to learn.
Here’s an example routine if you have 45 minutes from 6:00 am to 6:45 am:
- 6:00 am – Take a hot shower for 10 minutes.
- 6:10 am – Make and eat breakfast while listening to a podcast.
- 6:30 am – Glance at new posts from blogs you subscribe to; queue up four great links on Buffer.
- 6:40 am – Spend 5 minutes writing down your tasks for the day, or anything that you need to remember.
Step #4: Track How You’re Doing
I’m sure you want to stick to your routine every single day … but realistically, that’s not necessarily going to happen from day one.
Keep track of how you’re doing with your morning routine. You might even want to track each part separately to begin with. Each day, record your hits … and your misses.
If you often fail to get through the whole routine, look at patterns and figure out what’s going wrong.
Were you too ambitious about how much time you have available? Do you frequently hit “snooze” on your alarm? Or are there some tasks that keep getting ditched because they’re really not that important anyway?
Step #5: Get an Early Night
This loops back round to Step #1, because if you don’t get to bed early, you’re going to struggle to get up early. Obvious, I know … but easy to forget when you’re enjoying your evening.
If you find yourself going to bed later than you meant to, night after night, try:
- Setting a “go to bed” alarm specially if you tend to get engrossed in work or play, and you just don’t notice the time.
- Getting the support of the person or people you live with. That doesn’t mean imposing your bedtime on them. Instead ask them to remind you to get to bed on time if they see you’re still up. (You may also need to negotiate with them about noise and light levels after your bedtime.)
- Switching off your computer / tablet / phone at a set time, before you want to be in bed. That way you won’t be checking just one more email or sending just one more tweet.
What does your morning routine currently look like? What changes are you planning to implement? Drop a comment below to let me know.