If you’re one of those people that find it incredibly difficult to drag yourself out of bed to face the day — whether it be working for yourself or a slave-driving boss – then I really hope this article helps you as much as it helped me.
First off, let me frank: I’m not a morning person. I never have been, and I doubt I ever will be. This makes the chore of rising and shining that much more difficult for me to face every morning. I’ve tried several things to overcome this disability, but nothing has helped. Until now.
Forming a Habit
I recently listened to the audiobook “The Miracle of Self Discipline” by Brian Tracy. I didn’t particularly enjoy other books he wrote, but this one resonated with me. Mainly because I thought I could do with a second helping of self-discipline. I mean, I’m good at getting myself to do what needs to be done, but only to the point where I’m no longer under stress. Then I stop and chill.
Which, for me, just doesn’t cut it. I have several side projects which I’m struggling to get going simply because I can’t seem to force myself to carve out the time I need to attend to them.
Enter: Getting into a Habit.
And that’s what the book is mainly about. You see, self-discipline is a habit. So, how do develop self-discipline habit?
The Morning Routine – How to Increase Productivity and Positivity
It’s quite simple really. You form an early-morning habit, using this as a driving force for your entire day. Here’s what my routine looks like, and I’ll go into more detail about the specifics later in the article:
- Wake up (obviously)
- Meditation session: 10 Minutes
- Be Grateful: 2 Minutes
- Goal Setting: 5 Minutes
- Writing: 10 Minutes
- Idea Generator: 10 Minutes
- Prep for the day: 5 Minutes
This is all based on my personal needs and requirements, but I really highly recommend all areas of this routine to anyone looking for an awesome way to start their morning. I’m going to go into more detail about each step below.
This is obvious, but how many of you wake up with an alarm clock? I don’t. And, believe it or not, I wake up between 5:30 and 6:00 every morning. Using an alarm clock limits the ability of your body’s natural clock to regulate time.
Try this during a holiday break, or during a long weekend. Turn off your alarm clock and the previous night, right before you fall asleep, tell yourself that you want to wake up at [insert time here]. You can be as specific or as vague as you wish.
Then, the first time you regain consciousness the next morning, check what time it is. Now, the difficult part is getting up. Waking up naturally means you’re still pretty sleepy, as apposed to the shocking wake-up call of a screeching alarm clock or phone. So try and be strict with yourself that when you first open your eyes, that you will then get up out of bed.
Call it what you want: in this day and age, we all need a little mindfulness in our lives. Our heads are constantly clogged up with thoughts, fears, emotions, worries, to-do lists and responsibilities that there’s usually little space for anything else.
I use an app, simply because it makes the task that much easier. So, sign up for Headspace or similar apps and try it along with this morning routine for ten days and let me know if you notice a difference. I know I did. It’s also amazing how this aides in increasing your productivity.
Along with having too much going on in our heads at any given point, we’ve also forgotten to give a moment’s thought as to what’s good in our lives. These can be small things (a good night’s rest), large things (my family), or universal things (living in a beautiful country).
Spending a few moments reflecting on the positives in your life will give you a boost of positivity for the day, as well as highlighting what you feel is important and special in your life over the course of a few days or weeks. I’ve already noticed recurring themes in my “grateful notes”, and I’m trying to find ways to increase those factors.
I speak more about this in my article “5 Ways to Stay Productive This Holiday“, but setting goals in the morning before you begin gives you amazing perspective on why you are doing what you’re doing. It also creates a focus in your subconscious mind, giving it something to concentrate on.
Repeating these goals every day by writing them down from scratch sets them almost like a mantra in your mind, and you’ll soon discover that you are subconsciously working toward these goals every minute of every day.
Now this is something I recommend for everyone, whether you are a writer, author, blogger… or not. The act of writing every morning for 5-10 minutes – whether you’re working on an article, a book, a poem, or just keeping a journal – keeps your creative juices flowing.
It’s also a great exercise that will give you enough mental clarity to provide a huge boost in your productivity throughout the day.
This is something I read in an article about a morning routine (which I’ve subsequently adapted), but which I’m still trying to implement fully. Usually, by the time I’ve finished all the other steps, I feel I don’t have any ideas left.
But, ideally, what happens during this session of the morning routine is that you sit down and try and think of 10 ideas. These can be articles you might want to write, perhaps book ideas, app ideas, things you want to do around your house. If it can be considered a new idea, then you put it down. Aim for 10 and as the days progress you’ll start seeing the ideas beginning flowing more and more rapidly.
Prep for the Day
If you’re going to try and increase your productivity, then one thing that will help a great deal is to put your day into perspective before you begin work. If you haven’t already, start using a program like Todoist to keep track of anything and everything you need to do in a day.
Try and include each and every thing you need to do, including:
- Checking emails (try and do this only twice a day and you’ll immediately notice a difference in your time management)
- Making phone calls
- Replying to queries
- Time out for lunch
- Personal items such as exercise
The reason you’ll want to put as much of the items that you do during the day onto a to do list to tick it off as you do it, is that every time you tick something off your list, you’ll get a dose of endorphins (your brain’s happy drug) and that’s something everyone can do with throughout the day.
Another way you can prepare for the day is by actually doing some preparation the afternoon before. Make a list of things you’ll need to do the next day by preparing your to do list the previous day. Then, make sure you highlight the importance of each and every task by allocating it one of four symbols (you can do this with tags or categories in Todoist).
- A – Important and urgent (these must be done first)
- B – Important but not urgent
- C – Not important or urgent but must be done (ie: checking emails)
- D – Can be delegated
By marking tasks with these symbols you can at a glance see what important tasks you need to get done and which tasks you can delegate. Remember, don’t do a B task if you still have A tasks left undone.
After practicing this routine for a few days you’ll already start to see the pay off by an increase in productivity, positivity, and efficiency.
Have you tried this method yet? Let me know what worked and didn’t work for you.