The Purpose of a Morning Routine

Here is how my morning routine looks like.

After a quick washing, I check my fitness app and go through my sleep. At the same time, I step onto a scale to measure my weight and body fat percentage. These data get sync automatically to my fitness app. Next, I spend 15 to 20 minutes of meditating in the living room.

The next part of my morning routine depends on my schedule of the day. If I have a meeting early in the morning, I will hop right onto it. If not, I will likely go for a run and then back for a cold shower. After that, I will do a 30-minute free writing session followed by a quick look into my goals, weekly projects, and daily to-do list.

Now, I’ve to admit that I’m slightly obsessed with my morning routine. My current morning routine is the result of countless tests and tweaks, and I will continue optimizing it.

The truth is, not everyone has a morning routine or at least conscious about optimizing their morning routines. As a person who does and benefits a lot from it, I often ask my friends who don’t have a morning routine.

“Why don’t you develop a morning routine?”

With time, I figured that it’s a dumb question to ask. Oftentimes, they just don’t. So I decided to flip the scripts. Instead of asking other people why they don’t have a morning routine, I ask myself why I have one.

Why am I spending all the time to optimize my morning routine? Why am I committed to sticking to them? And how can I show others its purpose and benefits without boring the hell out of them?

Morning Routine Develops Baseline Habits

Not all habits are created equally. Some habits are likely to have a larger impact than others. These habits are commonly known as keystone habits. Keystone habits are the routines that get cascaded into more and better habits.

Laziness begets laziness. Progress begets progress. For me and many others, morning routine is the set of habits that they do to put them in the flow of doing what is right.

When the former United States Navy officer William McRaven, the author of Make Your Bed, said: “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

What he really meant was that making your bed in the morning could be the keystone habit that creates more good habits in your day. By making your bed, you create a small win early in the morning. This simple, small win brings the next small win, and the next small win brings even more small wins. Before you know it, you have won the day.

To me, even when I don’t win the entire day, I know I’m doing fine because I’ve at least gotten my morning routine done. I’ll give up feeling guilty and live on to fight another day.

Morning Routine Provides Mental Clarity

In the book Tools of Titan, Tim Ferriss interviewed world-class performers to find out their secrets in accomplishing success and living a remarkable life. Among all the people Tim Ferriss has interviewed, more than 80% of them practice some sort of mindfulness routine in the morning.

For me, I meditate by focusing on my breath for 15 to 20 minutes every morning. But it could be anything: go for a slow walk, visualization, have your breakfast slowly.

The goal is to be mindful of what you’re doing at the moment and at the same time, gain the perspective and clarity of what you’re doing right now with your life. It also helps you get a clearer picture of how your day is going to turn out instead of letting your Monkey Mind takes control of the steering wheel and waste an entire day.

Other than that, mindfulness practices will also train and improve your ability to focus — on both your high-level goals and moment-to-moment tasks at hand.

Morning Routine Boosts Your Energy

After studying many high performers from a wide range of background, I came to the conclusion that the energy you express to what you do play a crucial role in your performance. Unlike many people who are feeling dreadful starting their day, successful people dive into their work full of energy and enthusiasm.

For people who find it hard to feel and get energetic in the morning, a morning routine can help.

  • A quick HIIT workout routine or a 30-minute run can help improve blood flow to your body and your brain.
  • Meditation can help clear your mind and regulate your stress level.
  • A cold shower can wake you up and help you stay sharp both physically and mentally.

Although I prefer to improve my sleep so that I’m not feeling exhausted in the morning, I still find this benefit of morning routine valid. Instead of pushing my energy level of 60% to 90%, I now get to boost my energy level from 100% to 120%.

This is incredibly helpful especially when you tend to schedule energy-heavy tasks early in the morning like me.

Your Morning Routine, Your Purpose

My morning routine might not work for you. At the same time, being overly obsessed with a fixed set of routine is dangerous[1] because life always gets in the way. It’s better to be flexible and prepared than to depend solely on your morning routine.

Ultimately, morning routine, however simple, is there to add an extra layer of mindfulness to what you do early in the day so you can carry that with you later in the day. It pushes you to make use of your conscious mind instead of your Monkey Mind. And it gets you to the peak mental states that you need to perform your best.

One final note: there is no one-size-fits-all morning routine, you should always test and optimize yourself to find what works best for you.

FOONOTES

  1. Ryan Holiday has written an amazing post on how your daily routine could possibly become your biggest enemy here.
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