Tim Ferriss often says that if you can win your morning, you win your day. What does he mean? Well, if you’ve ever had a fantastic morning, you’ll probably notice that on that same day, everything just falls into place like dominos toppling each other.
You wake up early. You’re energetic and well-rested. You get a great breakfast in. You remember all of your keys and swipe cards to get into your work building. You have your laptop and work supplies already packed and ready to go. You look good in the morning and you don’t have to stop in front of the mirror to fix any particular thing. Traffic seems lighter than usual. Everybody greets you on the way in and you greet them back positively. And then once you get to your desk, you find out that you got to work even a little bit early and you’re able to do a few things such as write down a to-do list or check your calendar for important meetings or travel appointments before getting down to deep work.
Yes, I have had these kinds of days and I’m willing to bet that, perhaps rare, you have probably had these types of days too. Now what I am proposing is not a guaranteed way of having those types of days but you are going to have a higher probability of these types of days by developing a morning routine. Here are some of the activities that I like to do in the morning to ensure a more successful day:
Wake up early
I know, I know, everybody (even me) probably hates waking up early. You sometimes get to bed late and in the morning, your bed is so warm, comfortable and relaxing that you just do not want to get out of bed. Of course, the first thing you want to do is to sleep early so that you get enough rest (this should be done whether you want to wake up early or not). Next, the night before, just before you go to bed, tell yourself that you are going to have a fantastic night’s rest. I know it’s strange but I have done this a few times and I just seem to have one of the best night’s sleep ever (no matter how much time I have to sleep). When you hear that alarm blaring in the morning, wake up immediately. Again, I know it’s difficult but every time you hit snooze on that alarm, you’re telling yourself that you are a quitter. You’ve got a lot to do in the morning and the only way to tackle your to-do list and get things done is to wake up!
This doesn’t have to be exercise but it’s something to get your body moving. This can be 5 pushups or it can be jumping around on a small trampoline or even doing some stretches (such as those from Gymnastic Bodies). Getting in some movement is essential to warming up your body (similar to how you would stretch and warm up before something strenuous or playing a sport). I believe that doing 5 pushups, while not considered a full workout, primes your body into getting ready to conquer the day.
Being silent does not have to be meditation although it can be. It is just a way to be silent with your thoughts and reflect on what you are thinking about, what is troubling your mind, what do you need to do that day, week or month, how you feel about the relationships in your life. I try to meditate in the morning, usually only for 5 minutes and I find that it trains my mind to eliminate the chatter in my life and cut through to what really matters.
Write / journal
There’s something about the start of a day, when it’s quiet (because you woke up early) and the blank page staring at you with all the possibilities of the world. I feel compelled to write. It doesn’t have to be anything good and it doesn’t even have to be towards a book (though it can). I used to write in the five minute journal but any notebook works. If you are having trouble thinking about what to write, I’d suggest following James Altucher’s 10 ideas a day – write down any 10 ideas on any topic – how to improve your work, what side hustles you can start, what are the ten books that you can write, 10 ways to improve public transit, it can be about anything and you don’t have to worry about whether the idea is good or not (because you’re the only one who can see it).
Drink a glass of lemon water
This I learned from Rich Roll (the host of the Rich Roll Podcast). I’m not exactly sure how it works but I believe squeezing half a lemon into a full cup of water and downing it first thing in the morning can help provide some needed balance (as it is basic inside your stomach when it is digested) into your normally acidic stomach. I’m not sure if I believe all of that but I do know that one of my friends got ‘basic’ water installed and it seems to have made a massive difference to her health and well-being.
You can do this as part of your writing or as part of your silent thoughts but try to express some sort of gratitude for something in your life. It could be your health, it could be your job, or even the fact that you are warm and covered. I find that if I express gratitude for the big things in my life and some of the smaller things, it really helps provide some perspective in your life and help change your frame of mind as you go about your day. Maybe as you drive, someone cuts you off (maybe someone in the car is pregnant and they have to get to the hospital) or as you walk on the street, someone bumps into you and knocks away your coffee (they themselves are having an even worse day than you are).
Have a pre-set meal for breakfast
I’ve tried a few diets and right now I’m trying out intermittent fasting but one of the things that I try to do in the morning is generally eat the same thing every day. I do this because it helps to reduce decision fatigue later in the day but also because if I keep breakfast simple then it’s just that much quicker until I get on with the rest of my day. I try not to do anything too fancy, nothing that I have to spend time cleaning up so if I am eating in the morning, I’ll have a protein / veggie smoothie or I’ll have a can of sardines. Tim Ferriss has a rule of thumb that I also like “30 in 30” – which means 30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up. It’s helped a lot of his readers lose weight and is really easy to follow and remember.
If you have time, pack all of the things that you need that day. If not, try to pack the night before.
Again, you want to make sure that your morning is as streamlined as possible and that you’re not looking for a towel or a phone cable in the morning as you are scrambling out the door. I find that packing the night before also helps me sleep as it helps ease my mind as to the things that I need to do in the morning and may job my memory on something that I’m missing (rather than when I’m already out the door and late to work).
Those are a few things that I do to start my day right and while I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to all of those activities in a morning, doing three or four of the above has significantly helped me win the morning (and increased my chances of winning the day). What are your morning routines that you like to do?