This post was last updated on May 2nd, 2021
My best morning routine starts with pure Quiet. It’s something that we all need but don’t get nearly enough of.
In order to accomplish anything worthwhile, we need peace just as much as the air we breathe. As Cal Newport noted in Deep Work, “Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”
I used to really struggle with getting started in the morning. Waking at the latest possible time was my normal mode of being. At the time I lived within walking distance of my employer. Accordingly, I took the view that sleeping as long as I could in the morning and still making it to work on time was something to strive for. Then in the evening, despite more virtuous plans, I’d relax in front of the TV, browse social media and before I knew it, I’d achieved nothing.
Counterproductive Habits Are a Road to Nowhere
So my day-to-day routine became one of just working for the sake of existence in order to earn money to pay the bills. The result was that I often ended the day with a vague feeling of disappointment. A feeling that I’d done nothing that day to further my creative goals.
Many of us live these kinds of lives. Like a waking sleepwalk through our daily duties and obligations.
We have dreams of learning creative art or starting our own online business or other endeavours. But for some reason, which we can’t quite put our finger on, we keep putting our goals off until tomorrow.
Discovery of my Best Morning Routine
The realisation about the value of early mornings first came to me during a difficult period in my life. I was working a finance job that I didn’t like. In fact I was working in a situation where I’d been given too many duties and I felt totally overwhelmed.
Given all these extraneous duties, I needed to take back some control of my life. So to do this, I found myself regularly getting up before dawn just to be able to get a headstart on my day’s work. This was because my working hours weren’t enough to get everything done.
So, yes, I was tackling many hours of work before I’d even arrived at the office. I look back on those times now and ask myself – why the hell did I do that?
In some ways, I’m actually glad that I did because it taught me a level of work ethic which has gone on to serve me well.
During those pre-dawn hours, I made an unexpected discovery. I found that I actually loved being awake before everyone else. In fact, it seemed like I was the only one awake in the world. For some reason, that was a comforting thought. It felt like I was getting a jump on the day.
There was a silence that I wasn’t used to but which I really came to adore. I’d find myself waking at 4:30am. It was cold and dark out, but I just didn’t care. It became a daily challenge to myself to arise early on those cold mornings.
Then something unexpected started happening.
I found that If I missed the dawn, I felt that I’d somehow ruined the day. Getting a jump on the sunrise can make you feel like you’ve actually beaten the life force of the sun, if only for that day.
My Best Morning Routine is Always Based in Productivity
Crazy as it sounds, by motivating yourself to crawl out of bed early, you’re actually setting yourself up for your first win of the day. Why so? Because you’re beating resistance and it takes fortitude to keep pushing on when time seems tough. A great example: Mel Robbins wrote in her book, The 5 Second Rule: “I’ll never forget standing there in my bedroom. It was dark, it was cold, it was winter in Boston and for the first time in three months, I’d beaten my habit of hitting the snooze button”.
I started to find that I was getting some major projects completed before I even left home in the morning.
This was a revelation and by 8am I left for my commute to work feeling exhilarated. I was able to get some exercise on the way to work in the fresh air with the amazing feeling that I’d already accomplished something good for the day.
So I thought about this.
What things could I do every day to repeat this experience? I came to the realisations below which I hope you will find useful in your early-morning journey.
Work Out What you Want to Achieve the Night Before
Before he retires each evening he ruminates on what he wants to solve or achieve the next day. What’s the most important question? This creates a seed in his mind and allows his subconscious to go to work on the problem while he sleeps. The next morning upon waking he goes to a quiet corner, grabs his journal and writes in his journal on whatever comes into his mind. He’s been doing this for years and has found that it’s helped his creativity and problem-solving to a huge extent.
So whether you do this or not, it’s a motivating idea to plan what task you want to achieve in the morning. The task would ideally be an achievable goal that can be completed in the one session, such as writing a blog post in an hour. That way you’re more likely to get the feeling of successfully ticking something off your list before dawn.
Eliminate Social Media Distractions for your Best Morning Routine
It’s really important in the morning to keep a clear head. Ideally your morning will start with some form of meditation and journaling and a glass of lemon water. Even if the meditation is for only ten minutes, it’ll really help you connect with your creative mind.
I often like to listen to a chapter of philosophy around this time. My favourite at the moment is Letters from a Stoic by Seneca.
Go outside and smell the crisp early morning air. Revel in it and luxuriate in the peace and quiet.
If you’re someone who likes to catch up on the news while you sip your coffee, allow yourself to do that for a short time.
However, don’t look at social media or anything else which will potentially inflame your emotions. The aim is to keep calm and be in the peaceful headspace that you need to be to get your task completed.
Put your phone on silent and turn off all notifications and pop-ups on your computer. Never look at email during these morning hours.
I sometimes use the FocusAtWill app which provides neuroscience based music to help you concentrate. Perhaps light some incense or a candle if the mood takes you.
Keep Going and Going and Don’t Get Distracted
Once you’re on a roll with your task don’t get distracted. Just keep going in a relentless manner with your project until you’ve had enough.
Get up and walk around when you need to. Grab some fresh air outside but then gently come back to the task at hand.
When you start to feel sluggish or make mistakes, it’s probably time to take a break or call it quits for the morning’s session.
Best Morning Routine – If Things Get in the Way
Sometimes life gets in the way of your early morning routine productivity. The important thing here is to just roll with it. Do the other things that you need to do and just come back to your early morning routine when you can.
You’ll start to really enjoy these early sessions and sometimes you might feel upset when something prevents you from doing them.
Treat it like a meditation. Just come back to your productive morning routine when you can. Don’t treat yourself too harshly if you miss it for a few days.
Be Relentless with your Best Morning Routine
If you want to build or create anything worthwhile in life, you’ll often need to overcome some discomfort.
Breaking through these small daily displeasures of early starts with your early morning routine can help to build your character and intestinal fortitude. The result will be a high degree of happiness and contentment as you start to see your goals and dreams being realised.
This transformation will happen bit-by-bit, day-by-day if you stick relentlessly to your productive early morning routine.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I adjust to waking up early?
Let’s be real. The first few days of adjusting to an early morning routine are going to be tough. Just try waking up two hours earlier and if you get tired at night go to sleep as early as possible. In no time you’ll have adjusted to waking early.
Should I exercise or work on my side hustle in the early morning?
This obviously depends on your goals and what’s most important to you right now. If you feel like you never have time to exercise then doing this in the morning might be right for you.
Alternatively many people feel that the early hours are perfect for digging into their side hustle or other creative project.
What are the benefits of waking early in the morning?
Regular early rising with sufficient sleep can result in improved happiness and well-being. This can be achieved by becoming more productive, doing more exercise or working on creative endeavours.
What are the disadvantages of waking up early in the morning?
Sleep is really important to our wellbeing, so it’s important not to burn the candle at both ends. Make sure to get as close to 8 hours sleep per night as you can.