It’s 7:30 AM.
My alarm goes off.
As I am coming to terms with consciousness, I reach out for the phone. Groggy and still sleepy, I manage to hit the Stop button.
While I do that, I also see the list of notifications from all my favourite social media apps and email. Naturally, I click those notifications and that’s how my day starts.
By the time I look up from the phone, I realize I need to get ready for work. And I just hate the feeling I get then.
I just woke up and now I have to go to work? Where did my morning go?
Of course I know, but it’s really tough to admit that and accept that you are the reason for your failures.
I know I am not the only one going through this. Ask yourself: “What are you going to do after you wake up tomorrow morning?”
I am willing to bet that majority of us don’t have a concrete answer and that’s the main reason why our mornings seem to fly by.
One day I decided enough was enough. In this post, I am going to share a simple technique that helped me make a big difference in making my mornings more productive.
Booting Up on Your Own Terms
The question I asked myself was
“Okay, where do I start?”
To find the answer, I asked the millionaires and billionaires.
All the rich and successful I knew swore by their morning routines. I had seen so many articles with headlines like
Although these articles did a great job of telling me why we need to meditate and exercise and drink water in the morning, none of them tackled the root of my problem.
“How do I condition my mind to eliminate the distractions that I am facing in the first place?”
After some more research, I came across this video on Morning Routine by Tim Ferris, an author whose insights and recommendations I find highly helpful.
“The simplest way to tackle this problem is to start at the night before.
Put your phone on Airplane Mode. Because if you wake up to a barrage of notifications, you will be immediately short-circuited.
You want to have a boot up sequence of your own.”
And I was immediately intrigued.
I found the analogy to the computer boot-up sequence pretty convincing and so I decided to make an experiment of it.
How I Became The Boss of My Mornings?
It’s 7:30 AM.
My alarm goes off.
I reach out and press the Stop button. And that’s it. There is nothing more to do here.
For the first time in days, I get out of the bed within 5 minutes of waking up.
The first thing I realized was that I now have one full hour before I have to start getting ready for work.
And that made me really excited. As a matter of fact, there are studies which show that even thinking about having free time releases happy hormones in the brain and makes a person feel good.
You can try this yourself.
Think about “What would you do if you had an entire hour of complete uninterrupted free time?”
However, this led to another problem.
I did manage to get myself some free time in the morning. But, I still hadn’t figured out what I would use that free time for. Consequently, I substituted one pointless activity with another one — watching sitcoms on Netflix.
After a couple of days, I realized that this was not serving the purpose I wanted. It’s not making my mornings productive or value adding in any way.
So, that day I asked myself
“What activity should I do in the morning that would be value adding to me?”
After a little deliberation, I could easily come up with three activities that I would love to start my day with:
- Enjoying a cup of hot coffee while sitting in the balcony
- Writing some 600–800 words about what I am feeling in the morning
- Reading one chapter of a book
The next morning I woke up, I had a plan of action in place.
As soon as I woke up, my brain responded to the cue with a routine I had set up for myself.
By the end of the week, the routine was firmly set in the place.
I managed to eliminate my distractions, set up a value adding routine for myself and eventually felt a lot happier about my mornings.
I did it, You can do it too.
While performing this experiment over a week, I realized a few important things. There are my key takeaways for anyone who is struggling to have a productive morning.
Put your phone on Airplane Mode the Night before.
That’s the best way I have found to avoid being distracted by your phone and social media in the morning.
Boot up on your own terms, the way you want. Don’t let other people’s lives dictate the thoughts you start your mornings with.
Make a list of value-adding activities that you want to do in the morning.
“What will make me happy in the morning?”
“Which activities are the most important for me to start my day?”
Make these activities concrete.
Have a look at my three activities. You can visualize them crystal clear.
Be specific. Imagine that you are doing that activity in the morning and make it concrete.
Then, write it down. Preferably, the night before.
Studies have shown that our brain processes information and prepares to perform activities when in sleep.
Try it for one week.
Think of yourself as a behavioral scientist who is conducting this week long experiment.
Observe what happens with you. Make a mental or physical note of the results of this experiment.
This will help you identify what activities and tasks work for you and what don’t. Keep the things that work and replace the things that don’t.
“If you win the morning, you win the day.”
I promise you if you start with the simple activity of just putting your phone on Airplane Mode the night before, it’s going to create a Domino Effect that will transform your mornings for the best.
Now that you know where to start, stop letting external stimuli control how you start your days and make your own morning routine.
All the best.