4 simple steps to the ultimate start of the day

4 simple steps to the ultimate start of the day

There’s lots of talk about “morning routines” these days. It’s easy to get sucked into reading about what you should be doing, and harder to actually do it. Especially since it might not be possible for you to wake up at 5am or an hour earlier than you usually do.

The fact is, you already have a morning routine… even if it’s just a 5 minute scramble to get out the door and to work. Yet, it is possible to put together a short and easy to follow morning routine that will set you up for success in your day.

I think there are four major parts in creating – and following – a morning routine.

 

Reflection and gratitude

Lots of successful people advocate writing the so-called Morning Pages, getting their thoughts down in 750 words. I find it doesn’t quite work for me, especially because of the morning time constraints. If that is not an issue for you, I would recommend trying it for 14 days and see if it does anything for you. You might find it beneficial and worth the time investment of 20–30 minutes in the morning – at least that’s how long it usually took me.

The next best thing (or a good compliment) is the 5 Minute Journal. It is a simple way to ensure you begin and end your day with gratitude. Three simple of questions you answer each morning, and an additional two you answer before going to sleep.

That being said, I do not use the paper version. I write my 5 minute journal in the Day One app, using TextExpander to fill in the template. I even modified the questions a bit.

 

In the morning I write down:

I am grateful for:
1.
2.
3.

What would make this day excellent:
1.
2.
3.

And in the evening:

Three wonderful things that happened today:
1.
2.
3.

How could I have made this day even better:

What did I learn today:

 

Calm and focus

Before you get interrupted by the hectic day, you should spend some time training your mind to be able to focus in the face of endless distractions that come your way. The best way to do that is to dedicate 10 minutes each morning to meditation.

There are countless ways to go about meditating, but I think the best way (especially if you are just beginning with the practice) is to use an app such as Headspace. I tried quite a few different apps, but I kept returning to it. If offers a free 10-day “Take 10” course to get you started. However, if you are not sure you want to invest $8 every month for the subscription, you can keep using the “Take 10” course. That’s what I do.

Other useful sources for guided meditation are Sam Harris (9 minutes) and Tara Brach (25 minutes).

 

Nurturing your body

Next, I make sure to get something to eat. Too often an unscheduled meeting at work will leave you with a growling stomach at 2pm.

You don’t need a huge bodybuilder-type meal in the morning, sometimes a piece of fruit will do. Try Gordon Ramsey’s homemade granola. It’s healthy, delicious and gives you a ton of energy to last you well into your day.


Learn something new

I think the purpose of life is to be the best person you can be. Working towards that goal can manifest itself in many different ways, but an integral part of it comes in the form of learning. Consume as much of wisdom that is out there and integrate it into your own life. Now, this might sound far-fetched and non-defined, but it can be as simple as reading one page of a book per day. That’s 365 pages in a year and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

My recommendation is the Daily Stoic. I think it’s a great place to start, since the whole book is structured in a way that serves you one lesson per day. Read it in the morning and reflect on it throughout the day. I promise it will make you a better person.

 

Find what suits you best

The main thing to take away are not the 4 points mentioned above. It is the idea of crafting a morning ritual that will work for you.

For example, another thing I am experimenting with is adding a few minutes of exercise. Some 2-handed kettlebell swings to get your blood flowing or a round or two of the 7 Minute Workout.

There is a ton of research and advice out there on what makes up for a “perfect morning”. But the truth is, only you can figure that out.

You might not want (or be able) to wake up at 5am and go about a 2 hour routine, ranging from a workout to cooking a breakfast. But you will find things that you feel work for you and you should stick with that.

Play around, find what suits you best.