All my life, I had been following a typical night owl schedule. Staying up until mid-night or late studying, writing, handling impending tasks, scrolling news feed and then scrambling through the mornings like a Zombie with a hangover!
My mornings always felt rushed and I was often late for morning classes or meetings and any other engagement at the start of the day.
I wondered how a privileged few morning birds were so much more productive than me . They always seemed ready and equipped to handle any challenge the day throws at them! Those early morning hours almost felt like they had a special gift over me!
Fascinated by the potential of mornings I decided to switch my routine recently.
It was not easy, and it did not come naturally at first as I hit the snooze button often. Some days I did just sit on my bed checking my phone notifications, liking pics on Facebook, checking weather forecast. It did not feel productive at all, but I realized I had lot more brain energy in the morning and all that I needed was a plan to use this energy and time efficiently.
So, having read about morning routines of super achievers in various books and publications, I tried to incorporate some of those habits in my routine! It worked and am pumped up with the positive change so far although I am still a novice at meditation.
Sounds easy right? Sorry to burst the bubble , it was not easy and actually took me several weeks to adapt to the new schedule. It was well worth the effort though as I noticed increased focus , higher productivity during the day and I was able to get lot more work done with less time and all these benefits elevated by mood and made me happier too!
I am confident say it will pay off hugely for anyone who is willing to take the plunge to change their everyday schedule !
Sharing a few lessons that I learnt along the way, if you wish to try and follow the sequence of routine!
WHAT TO DO
LEMON WATER INSTEAD OF COFFEE
Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach spikes your physical and mental energy levels. Lemon water full of nutrients will instantly fire up your metabolism, help in flushing out toxins, strengthen your immune system and refuel your brain.
Hydration is crucial for optimal brain activity and daily productivity. Of course, staying hydrated is a daylong activity but starting your day with lemon water first thing in the morning is a step in the right direction!
You need to wait at least 30-45 minutes for nutrient absorption before reaching for your coffee which is the perfect time to squeeze in some exercise!
An early morning workout is highly beneficial not just for your body, but also to your mind. Research shows that morning exercise will improve your mental focus all day long !
It is an all-natural energy boost that works as effective as cup of caffeine and will provide you the jolt you need to wake up your body and mind!
But if you are a night owl, this might not seem enjoyable at first and all you want to do is bury yourself into the comfy sheets and snooze your alarm!
Given the numerous benefits of working out early morning, once you are convinced enough to try this routine, there are a few things you could do to build up this discipline. Putting a loud alarm at the other end of your room beyond your reach so you do not snooze, having your workout clothes laid out ready the night before, and having a workout buddy or a trainer who keeps you accountable will help you in a long way in developing consistency into this routine.
Working out early in the morning also ensures you do not get interrupted with many pressing things that build up during the later part of the day. I do not know about you but by evening I am exhausted and exercise gets easily traded with running errands, dinner preparation, family time and working late.
So, if morning workout is helping with increased immunity, better mood, improve focus, why not take the plunge to be more productive? You can do this!
Best of all, mastering this routine will create such strong self-discipline that it will spill over other areas of life too – you will sleep early, eat healthy, fall sick less often, be able to focus better, reach your goals faster!
Mindfulness Meditation has become increasingly popular given its proven benefits in super charging your productivity and your overall well-being.
In his book “Tools of Titans”, Best-selling Author Tim Ferriss has interviewed more than 200 world class performers ranging from visionary CEO s, to athletes to operation commanders and more than 80% of them practice some form of daily meditation or mindfulness technique.
Mindfulness Meditation is a technique which will let you calm your mind, gain clarity as you will look at your problems from an “outside perspective” and address them rather than get knocked over by it.
Research shows that mindfulness fights off stress by reversing the fight-or-flight response, improves your ability to focus, boosts creativity, and increases your emotional intelligence.
EAT THE FROG
Author Brian Tracy in his book “Eat That Frog” quotes Mark Twain saying
“Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
The classic business book summarizes how to beat procrastination and how working on your toughest task first thing in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.
By toughest task, it means your Most Important Task that you will likely procrastinate on and doing that first thing in the morning before you do any other tasks in your list.
The project deadline you are dreading, PowerPoint slides that you do not want to do but have to do for an important meeting, that research for your book– whatever it is! Now is the time to do it. You need to do it before you have the time to think too much or procrastinate!
Why? Because your motivation and willpower are the highest in the morning and dwindles throughout the day, so completing that toughest task will ensure that you will have the most energy. After having done at least a few minutes of mindfulness meditation, you would have gained a good dose of calmness and clarity and will be able to give your best to the task at hand! Rest of the tasks throughout the day will feel like a breeze, now that you have already accomplished the toughest one!
WHAT NOT TO DO
You already know how important your morning routine can be for kicking off a productive workday. No matter what routine you follow, it should not involve checking your social media updates.
Start your day with any or all of productive activities mentioned above – go for a jog, write a morning journal, meditate for a few minutes to set the tone for your day and stay focused right after getting up.
Logging into your social accounts early in the morning will cloud your thoughts and hamper your productivity and looking at your friends perfect life on Facebook won’t boost your mood. As for that funny cat video, it may be cute, but won’t exactly help you focus on your work.
Yes, I get it. Multitasking is unavoidable at times.
When there is too much to do, our mind becomes restless and constantly wanders off from one task to another and we frantically scramble to complete our To-Dos. Anxiety sets in and in a panic mode we try to juggle multiple tasks at the same time.
But have you also noticed that how it makes you feel? Multitasking keeps you busy throughout the day and yet it at the end of the day nothing gets done or things are half done ? There is no feeling of accomplishment and no satisfaction at having given your best at something . Multitasking can make you feel sluggish at times.
So, if multitasking is unavoidable, how to balance through the day and yet feel accomplished?
You can do this by defining your tasks first using the “Eisenhower Method” . The method stems from a quote attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower: “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”
You need to separate the truly important tasks from the merely urgent tasks.
For merely urgent tasks, most of the times you can be just good enough and power through these tasks by multitasking throughout the day.
For the truly important tasks, you need to give your best! Especially if a task or project is tied to your purpose and is going to take you closer to your goal, then that task requires your undivided attention!
Use your morning time to tackle your MIT, Most Important Task with undivided focus. Avoid multitasking, cut out digital distractions and embrace deep work! “Be at It” as long as you can or until you have accomplished as much as you intended to for the day!
And when your mind becomes restless about another impending task, keep a running list in a notebook next to your computer so you can address them later and get back to the original task and keep your focus until it is done!
As the day progresses, lot more things come up, your calendar will get filled up and you will end up multitasking at least to certain extent but having given your undivided attention to that most important task in the morning, you can now feel less guilty about half done jobs as you have given your best to a task that matters most to you!
Bringing it All together
Establishing a successful morning routine is essential and takes time and effort especially if you are a night owl. The strategies mentioned above are tried and tested and is proven to build strong self-discipline in life. By experimenting with these and then adding your own activities that work for you creates a positive ripple effect over other areas of life too and pretty soon all the dominoes will start falling and you will be off like a freight train with no breaks roaring with amazing productivity!
Having mastered your routine and developed these keystone habits, you will become task oriented, engaged and super productive and will excel at whatever you do!