I know I know, it's all about morning routines, you hear it everywhere. Every business podcast, every high-profile interview. To the point where I almost want to rebel and do the opposite.
But there is truth in it, there really is. How you start your day isn't just the latest lifestyle trend, it's been around for centuries. Even in Buddhism it is said that discipline creates freedom. And in our world of nonstop distraction this couldn't be more important.
Creating a mindful morning can have a HUGE impact on your day and ultimately on your life.
As your day starts, it’s easy to get lost in the habit of checking messages, replying to email, checking the news etc. etc.
Not to mention the rabbit hole that social media provides. There are people who actually check their facebook feed as soon as they open their eyes. Strange world we’re living in…
get your priorities right and reclaim your morning.
This is important. It really matters, especially when you’re a sensitive, creative or entrepreneurial soul. It is incredibly easy to let your day pass doing a thousand small, insignificant actions, but the essential steps get put off.
The antidote to this randomness is putting a little emphasis on your first hour of the day. Make it the most powerful hour, make it entirely yours, and make it a morning routine that eventually becomes a habit.
Treat your time as sacred and not to be wasted on trivial things. Instead fill that magical morning hour with only the finest and most life-changing actions.
Those consequential actions might include:
- Writing, painting or creating in some other way
On the days when I’m able to stick to my morning routine, my entire day feels different. My head is clear and calm. I feel centred, grounded and undistracted. I have so much more energy and I am far more focused and productive.
My First Hour
Well, my first hour of the morning actually starts with my last hour before bed. It's pretty hard to stick to your morning resolutions when you wake up tired, grumpy and already restless.
So I try to turn my phone off by 8pm. Doesn’t always happen but that is my intention. I don’t eat late at night. I make sure I get 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep. When in bed I briefly journal on my day, followed by at least half an hour of reading, preferably fiction, to shut down my overactive brain.
My morning routine varies a little, especially since moving to Ibiza and living a rather unstructured life (which makes a structured morning all the more important). I have to adjust according to the change of season, from busy high-summer to the quieter and colder winter months. But certain rituals remain constant. And when things tend to drift off into mindlessness, I refocus myself and choose a routine that works with my current workflow.
So here’s what I’m doing right now with my first hour. I may add that I’ve always been a morning bird and tend to be awake by 6am, without alarm.
I LOVE quiet morning energy.
I turn on classical music and have a cup of herbal or green tea in bed while writing my morning pages. It is messy, unstructured writing - basically getting the junk out of my head. I like to end by writing down three seemingly trivial things I am grateful for this morning (so cliche I know, but it does work).
Tea and journal finished I get myself out of bed and do a short pranayama (breathing) practice, calming my nervous system before the monkey mind kicks in and takes over. After that it’s usually another cup of tea while I get ready, put my trainers on, and go for a walk/hike to get fresh air.
These four rituals - tea, journal, breathing, fresh air - are standard. Always.
Then, if I have time and weather permitting, I like to do my yoga practice in nature high up on the mountain. I know this is a luxury, but it worked just as fine in London when I had zero time and did my yoga in the bedroom. It is either a full 90 minute practice, or it’s short and sweet. But moving my body with intention moves my mind with intention.
Breakfast is healthy, uncomplicated and quick. Either a green smoothie and some eggs, or something I had prepared the night before.
And then I start working, whatever it is that I have lined up for the day. If I need to check messages this is the time I turn on my phone. But on days when I don’t have clients, I like to keep it off until I have finished my mission for the day without any distraction. This could be midday or even afternoon. And let me tell you it's blissful. If you can afford having your phone off in the morning for as long as possible I highly recommend doing so.
Creating your morning without madness.
You don’t have to choose the same mix as me, of course. The idea is to figure out what would be most beneficial for your life, and put those into your first hour of the day.
You might not know what works for you, so just try it. A good mix might include:
- Some kind of meditation or reflection (morning pages, gratitude journal, list making etc.)
- Your most important task for the day
- Something that takes concentration - reading, studying or creative endeavours
- Something physical - running, yoga, walking, dancing...
Be flexible and playful in your approach, this is meant to make your life easier, not harder. If you find that you can’t concentrate first thing in the morning, maybe use it for physical activity like yoga or running.
If you don’t like physical activity, and you have never tried to meditate, maybe put your headphones on and listen to an inspirational audiobook or a podcast while you make your bed, get your clothes ready and prepare your breakfast.
Or how about reading a few pages of a book with your morning coffee instead of checking email and facebook. I know, what a luxury! But this is your life, you can choose, make it beautiful.
The main questions to ask yourself: If you were given the gift of an extra hour in the morning, what would you spend it on? What would make the biggest difference in your day?
Who or what would you let enter your mind?
How you live today is how you live your life.
If you are already rushed in the morning and you think you don’t have time to do all that, maybe start waking 30 minutes earlier. Maybe buy an old-fashioned alarm clock and see how much more time you have when there's no online distraction. Keep the TV off, I don't even have one.
I'm sure most of us have a little extra time that we spend on unintentional and pointless activities. These are just annoying and sometimes destructive habits we do unconsciously. See what happens when you use that time in a much more positive way. After all, our life is made up of everyday small habits and actions.