There is a myth that says your morning routine should not involve checking email or social media, but rather be something healthy like exercise, meditation or reading a book. I’ve always had a problem with this, if I were to meditate first thing in the morning I would very quickly fall back to sleep and I have never enjoyed morning exercise, and therefore never ever felt the desire to get up, put on my running gear and head out for a swift 5k.
Instead, I have always enjoyed sitting down with my phone and a good cup of coffee for twenty minutes to check my social media feeds and any email that came in overnight. It sets me up for an energetic day and I also feel I am on top of everything as anything urgent that came in overnight I am now aware of and I can be coming up with solutions while I am in the shower or boiling my breakfast egg.
Some people are just not morning people. I am not. I prefer a quiet evening working away. I often find myself on a Friday or Saturday night sitting down at my desk and writing chapters for my next book or designing a slide deck for a future workshop. I enjoy exercising in the afternoons or early evenings and I am lucky that I have time every day to exercise in the early afternoon.
You need to find a routine for the morning that suits you, the goal is to set yourself up for a fantastic day, everyday. If you wake up and force yourself to do something you hate doing, you are not going to feel a great deal of enthusiasm to jump out of bed. If, on the other hand, you create a morning routine you enjoy doing, something you look forward to every day, you are going to be getting out of bed with far more enthusiasm and this will always lead to a much more positive day.
In recent weeks I have been asking my students and friends on social media what routines they have, if any, in the morning and I have discovered a lot of different things. Firstly, a lot of the most disciplined and organised people do have a fixed routine they follow. They wake up an hour or two earlier than they need to in order to carry out a routine of exercise, meditation or family time. A lot of the less disciplined people I know, do not. They sleep until the very last minute and then rush to get out of the house and in to work. The people who wake up a little earlier, so they are not rushing around, are much less stressed and a lot more positive about the day ahead. Those who do not have any routine appear a lot more stressed and more negative, and despite having a little more sleep than the ones who wake up earlier, appear to be much more tired throughout the day.
Every day my goal is to be happy and positive and to move myself a little closer to my lifetime goals. Waking up thirty minutes earlier than I need to is a very big part of achieving that. That thirty minutes means I am not rushing around panicking about being late. It means I have time to see if any potential day destroyers came in overnight and allows me to be updated on what my friends and family over in Europe have been up to while I was asleep. I have no intention of changing that routine because it works for me and it means I start the day with the right frame of mind for the overall goal I want to achieve.
It is important you develop a routine that works for you. A routine that puts you in the right frame of mind for the day and one that means when you leave your home for work you have a spring in your step and you know nothing will stop you from moving that little bit closer towards achieving your goals. Whether that means you go out for a 10k run and do 20 minutes meditation, or whether it means you take twenty to thirty minutes checking and replying to email. It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as it works for you.
I know it might sound cool to have a morning routine like Tim Ferris or Tony Robbins, and their routines are amazingly cool. But I know their routines would not work for me at all. In all likelihood I would feel a lot worse if I followed their examples. For me a more leisurely start to the day works and I have no intention of changing it in the near future.
You should do the same. You should find a morning routine that allows you to wake up around thirty to sixty minutes earlier than you need to do, so you can focus on doing something for yourself. You could call it your “alone time”, or even your selfish time. Mornings are great because they are quiet, the crises of the day have not happened yet and you can have a few minutes with your own thoughts and plan your day and set yourself up for a fantastically productive day. It really doesn’t matter what you do in that extra time, all that matters is you enjoy it and you look forward to doing it every morning. After all, if you enjoy your morning routine and the way it makes you feel, you are much more likely to jump out of bed in a positive frame of mind than if you hated doing it and you were only doing it because someone else is trying to convince you their routine is the perfect routine. It might be perfect for them, but it is not necessarily perfect for you.
Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.