Have you had days when you “woke up on the wrong side of the bed?” You snoozed the alarm a couple of times, dragged yourself out of bed, got dressed, grabbed a donut or some quick food for breakfast, and headed to work in a rush. You woke up tired, unhappy and cranky and often the day doesn’t get any better.
How about the opposite experience? Have you woken up on the right side of the bed? You slept well, woke up refreshed, did some exercise, made yourself a healthy breakfast, reviewed your daily tasks and appointments, listened to some music, got ready and headed to work. You were energetic and enthusiastic to make the most out of the day. We all have had both kinds of days – when we got up on the right side of the bed and vice versa.
The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day – Henry Ward Beecher
Think about your morning routine. Are you spending your mornings by default or by design? Most successful people have a set morning routine that has been consciously designed to give them a head start for the day. Average people often spend their morning by default – snoozing off when the alarm goes off, checking emails and social media, watching sports or news on TV, eating foods that drain energy instead of fueling the body, and indulge in other trivial activities that add no value to their day.
Scientific studies have shown that our willpower is a scarce resource. It means that we only have so much of willpower available to us and it reduces as we make decisions during the day. In the morning, our willpower is at peak. Morning is a great time to design and implement routines that start your day right and put you in a peak state, both physically and mentally, to help you make the most of your day.
Here are five incredibly simple and useful tips to design a fabulous morning routine that will help improve your days and eventually help transform your life.
1. Wake up early: Waking up early allow the time and freedom to do the other four activities of the morning routine. Here are some benefits of waking up early
- More time for yourself
- More focus
- Less stress
- Better willpower and discipline
Waking up early starts with going to bed on time! Television, computers, and smartphones have made it easy for us to get distracted. Many of us are glued to some kind of electronic screen till late in the evening or even late hours of the night. Getting enough sleep is essential for physical and mental health. Getting up an hour earlier means going to bed an hour earlier. Put away the distractions at night at least an hour before bedtime. Set the room to the right temperature, change into comfortable clothes, put some relaxing music, turn off the lights and get into bed.
2. Exercise: Exercise has numerous documented and scientific benefits.
- Gives a boost of energy through out the day
- Helps you sleep better
- Improves health
- Improves memory
- Increases productivity
A 10-15 minute morning exercise routine is enough to get these benefits. It can be dancing to your favorite music or song, a yoga, aerobics, Zumba, video on YouTube that you can follow along, going for a walk or a jog, playing a sport, or anything else that get you physically active. The key to exercising regularly is to find something you can fit into your daily routine.
Often the word meditation brings up images of a scantily clad monk sitting in a lotus position on top of a mountain! Or a similar image. Meditation does not have to be complicated. Our mind by its nature is always occupied in some thoughts. Meditation is the process of calming down the mind by training it to focus on something neutral – like your breath, sounds around you, body sensations, a candle etc.
- Simply sit in a comfortable position – a chair or on the floor with hands by your side.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath. The sensations of air going in and out of your nostrils, the up and down movement of your chest and stomach as you inhale and exhale.
- Your mind will get lost in other thoughts. When it happens and you realize it, simply bring your attention back to your breath.
- No need to be upset or blame yourself. This is the nature of the mind. Simply bring your attention back to your breath each time the mind wanders.
As you practice meditation daily the mind wandering will reduce and you will feel a sense of calm and peace.
4. Eat a healthy breakfast:
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It is the fuel that goes into your body and powers it all day. Make sure to put in the good stuff!
- Include whole grains, lean protein, fresh fruits, eggs, low-fat dairy items etc.
- As far as possible – prepare something fresh instead of eating packaged items.
- Avoid the sugar, carbohydrates, and fats that are present in most packaged breakfast foods.
Planning and preparing the night before makes it a lot easier to eat a healthy breakfast. A quick search of Google or YouTube will give hundreds of ideas for a healthy breakfast that can be prepared in just a few minutes.
5. Connect with your purpose:
- What are your 3-5 long term goals in personal and professional life?
- What are your priorities for this week and this day? Just don’t think about them, write them down – every morning.
Spend a few minutes to write them in a planner or an even a plain sheet of paper. We often get distracted from our goals, purpose, and priorities. This five-minute activity helps us reconnect and reenergize.
Changing morning routines is a process. It takes time and patience. Try to incorporate these five habits one step at a time. The benefits are immense – it will change improve your days and help transform your life.
What activities do you do as a part of your morning routine? Which one of the above five would you like to try – if you are not already doing them as a part of your routine? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.