It was 5:00 a.m. on a dark and cold February morning. My alarm clock just went off. It was a very special day: For the first time in my life, I was about to leave for the gym in the early morning! I’d planned and scheduled it a couple of times but always failed. So, that morning, I jumped in the car and hoped for the best.
Heavy traffic… Oh, man, it’s six in the morning! “No problem,” I whispered, “I’ll stay calm.”
Finally, after some 20 minutes of travel time, I reached the gym and then bumped into a chain of cars waiting for the doors to open. The gym is supposed to open at 6:00 a.m., and it was 6:19 with the doors closed! “I can’t believe that it happens to me,” I yelled.
I got angry, put the pedal to the floor, and got the hell out of the gym. It was the inspiring music (KRS One, by the way) I listened to in the car that cleared my mind on my way to the office.
And then I wondered why I’m pushing myself by any means to get to the gym when most people are still sleeping or brushing teeth. I’ve always been a morning person showing up at work around 7:00 a.m. before most colleagues would arrive. I like to work in the morning and often find a sense of flow. Why, then, do I still push myself for a morning workout?
Because productivity gurus say that you should exercise in the morning for numerous reasons:
- It’s good for your health
- It releases endorphins which is good for your mood
- It helps to have a good night sleep (yes, morning exercise is better than evening exercise)
- It prepares you for a good and productive day
- And the list goes on…
No question here, but there’re times when a morning workout simply doesn’t work. I would exercise in the evening because that perfectly fits my schedule. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Good morning, dear friend, and welcome to the Routine series Part I. I hope that my story could convince you―and myself, too―that everybody should assemble her very own morning routine, regardless of what people say. And it takes experimentation…
Morning routines of the champions
Here’s a list of common morning routines (activities) that successful and productive people practice:
- Reading inspiring content
- Drinking a lot of water
Morning routines come with various forms in productive literature.
Hal Elrod, the author of the Miracle Morning, advocates the Life S.A.V.E.R.S:
S – Silence (meditation)
A – Affirmations (beliefs)
V – Visualization (vision board)
E – Exercise
R – Reading
S – Scribing (journaling)
The late Stephen R. Covey, the author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, proposed that you allocate one hour per day for the rest of your life to “Sharpening the saw.” Covey did mean that we should take time to nurse our “physical, spiritual, and mental dimensions.”
The “Seven daily happiness habits” was formulated by Richard Koch, the author of the 80/20 Principle. I liked the idea very much, although it wasn’t proposed as a morning routine, rather a way to live your day to the fullest. These habits are:
- Mental stimulation
- Spiritual/artistic stimulation/meditation
- Doing a good turn
- Taking a pleasure break with a friend
- Giving yourself a treat
- Congratulating yourself
I could continue but I think you get the point.
Why, then, do so many people sleep or check Facebook instead of practicing the life savers?
Is it because people are blind to productivity advice? Maybe they are, maybe they need cultural awareness, or maybe they’re lazy. Maybe the educational system and the media should raise public awareness about successful habits to foster global happiness…
The question remains as to how you should assemble your morning routine.
So what should I do with my mornings?
Over the years I’ve found that the best you can do is experiment, experiment, and experiment. How the world can you reject any of those ideas and routines without being part of it?
Make sure that you won’t pick up too much on your plate, though. Habits need some time to fully establish. The habit loop theory might be helpful in this sense.
I have to admit that I don’t practice all those routines in the morning: Some worked for me, some not; some worked in the evening; some need more experimentation from my side. And, yes, it’s a struggle sometimes. But I keep going: I’ll definitely go to the gym tomorrow―right six in the morning. I really want to experience that pain, time, and glory!
What about your morning routines? Please share them in the comments below.
Update: Next morning, I got to the gym, arrived at 6:15 a.m., and it was open. 🙂 I rushed to the first floor, grabbed some iron, had a wonderful workout, and got to work with a sense of accomplishment. By the way, I still hit the office before most colleagues showed up. Hell, yeah, this is pain, time, and glory!
Your one takeaway: Grab a piece of paper and make a list of your tentative morning routine. But that’s not taking action: Choose an item from your list and do it tomorrow!