We should all subscribe to Tim Ferris’ quote, “If you win the morning, you win the day.”
Tackling the day requires more than willpower. It takes a series of routines to get things done. I have often seen clients who struggle so much to get out of bed and get going. Their mornings are absolute chaos. They are hitting the snooze button to stay comfortable in bed until the last minute when they must rush to work. They typically skip precious moments of calm and appreciation for the morning in exchange for the stress of not being late and arriving in a disorganized hot mess. They need to be more mentally prepared to start work. This leads to a slow warm-up to being productive, causing them to fall behind before they can begin to work. They are skipping so many excellent habits to maximize their day.
A morning routine prepares the mind and body for a day full of activities. A healthy morning routine wakes you up, creating the first steps to mastering your day. This article will show you all the little benefits of a proper morning routine that adds to surprising gains in your day…and begins with the night before.
The Shutdown Routine
A healthy evening routine prepares the body and mind for a successful start to the next day. It begins with establishing a bedtime. This is not the time you fall asleep, but it is time you are in bed and resting. According to the CDC, humans need 7 hours or more of restful sleep to prepare for the new day.
You might wonder, “How do I sleep on time?” The shutdown routine is more than hopping into bed when you close your laptop. You need to prepare your mind for sleep. First, discontinue all work one hour before bed. This gives the mind time to cycle out of work/stress mode and begins the relaxation process. Second, create relaxing tasks to put the mind at rest further. Perhaps you could take a warm shower before bed, light a scented candle, turn on soothing music, brush your teeth, and pick out clothes for the following morning. Some people exercise first thing after they wake up. They lay out their workout outfit and pack their water bottle and sweat towel in a gym bag before bed. The third step is no more screens. Computer screens can stimulate the mind out of a restful state (even when using the screens for entertainment). Please turn off the TV one hour before bed. If you plan to occupy your mind with reading, do not read anything work-related or stress-inducing (do not open your mail or check bank balances). You want to read things that are entertaining and relaxing. Give fiction a try.
Once in bed, give yourself 20-30 minutes to fall asleep. If you are still awake after 30 minutes, get out of bed and read or listen to music until you feel ready to get back into bed again. Do not turn on the TV.
The Morning Routine – A Two-Step Approach to Waking Up
To wake up effectively, I employ a two-step routine to waking up. I set the first alarm for 30 minutes before I wake up. When the alarm sounds, I roll over and take my morning medications with a large glass of water. This procedure does two things. First, the meds take their time to be effective. It primes my system to wake up before the second alarm. Second, drinking a large glass of water not only hydrates me, but after 20 minutes, I suddenly have the urge to get out of bed and use the restroom. Most days, there is no need for a second alarm. I am already awake by that time.
What is the first thing I do when I wake up? I move my body. I do not sit on the bed waiting to wake up. Sitting on the bed is too tempting not to climb back into bed and sleep more. I immediately get into the standing position, go to the bathroom, and do positive self-talk in the bathroom mirror. Positive self-talk helps clear my head of bad dreams or crummy experiences from the night before. It puts me in a good mood and energizes me to accomplish things.
Always remember to make your bed. Many great leaders have expounded upon the importance of making your bed. It is a small, 2-minute task that helps you realize your first success of the day. The day might not turn out the way you want, but at the day’s end, you can come home to a nicely made bed reminding you that you at least accomplished something for the day.
So the bed is made. What next? Exercise. Some people think that exercise means they must drag themselves to the gym and subject themselves to an hour of intense activities. I do a different kind of exercise than this in the morning. 100 crunches. That is all. I do my crunches. It is enough movement to wake up and get my blood flowing. I do not even break a sweat, and I move on to the rest of my day.
I arrive at work energized, with my mind and body ready to start work. I feel accomplished with a made bed and 100 crunches completed. I have begun my day with positive self-talk in the mirror. The day looks bright, and I am ready to go.
How do you choose to start your day? Do you arrive at work energized, organized, relaxed, and ready to start? Or do you show up as a hot mess, stressed, disorganized, late, tired, and unprepared? Think about how you want to feel in the morning and what feelings you want to bring into your day. A small amount of thinking and planning can yield surprising
Nate Hooper, CALC
ADHD & Executive Functions Coach