There is something special about early mornings. As I sit here, it’s five thirty, the sun is rising, most people are still asleep, and I feel completely energized sipping my coffee, thinking about the day ahead of me.
Inspired by this moment, I decided to share with you my 28 all time best ideas for making the most out of your mornings. It’s time for another list, folks!
First things first, though: If this list feels like it’s missing some context, check out last Friday’s post on morning rituals. In this post, I will assume that we agree that mornings are best used for warming up before the day ahead – rather than just lying in the bed – the more detailed reasoning can be found from the post I just mentioned.
Before Your Morning Ritual
- Wake up early. Leo Babauta wakes up at 4:30, Steve Pavlina’s alarm clock rings sometimes between 4 and 5 AM. I’m still looking for my perfect wake up time, 5 AM seems like one of the best options: sleeping longer than that would mean that my son might wake up before me – which is not ideal for the morning appointment, and waking up earlier would just make my wife think I’m crazy.
- Take a shower
- Get dressed. The morning ritual is an appointment with yourself, a bit like a date. You wouldn’t go on a date wearing your pajamas, would you?
- Make breakfast. I’d love to have my morning appointments in a coffee shop, but that has two down sides: first, it’s expensive, and second, most coffee shops in my town don’t open before seven. So, the next best option is to make some coffee, a sandwich, maybe a bagel every now and then, and bring the coffee house to my own home.
- Work out. The morning hours are great for jogging. It’s not too warm yet, and the time that it takes to go through your workout routine is not away from your friends and family. I haven’t been able to make this into a habit yet, but I’m trying to.
- Clean the house. It’s easier to concentrate when you don’t have dirty mugs and plates staring at you on the kitchen table. They sort of ruin the impression of being in a coffee shop.
- Keep your computer turned off. This is important. Nothing can beat the addictiveness of your computer’s screen: when you turn it on, you’ll soon be glued to it, checking “just this one thing”, and before you notice, your precious morning hours are gone – and all you have done was checking e-mail, reading the news, or just checking out blog comments.
- Keep the news out. I’m not suggesting a full low information diet à la Tim Ferriss (although it’s worth giving a shot sometimes), but still, it’s a good idea to only read the news after the morning ritual – not during it, and most importantly, not before it.
- Enjoy the silence. Don’t turn on the radio. Don’t play music. Don’t talk. Instead, open the window (if it’s not too cold) and listen to birds waking up.
- Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that you’re alive, that the morning rush hour hasn’t yet started, and that this is your special, peaceful moment of the day. Enjoy it!
During Your Morning Ritual
- Write down your thoughts. Always have a pen and some paper with you, because inspiration comes unannounced. I’m using a one page morning ritual template (from my upcoming morning ritual work book) and a notebook for plotting down a longer version of my thoughts.
- Consider getting a Moleskine. I’m trying to get one too.
- Stay focused. Try to keep the meeting short and effective. If you notice that you’re stuck reading a book, or maybe even writing a book, put the book aside and see if there’s something more on your morning ritual checklist to still cover, and get done with the exercise before getting back to your book.
- Be flexible. Sure, it’s your precious time of the day, but you must also remember that the reason why you’re doing this is so that you can get the most out of your day and be the best friend, father, spouse, brother, or sister you can be. So, if your family wakes up during your morning appointment and start asking for your attention, give it to them. And then wake up just a bit earlier on the next day.
- Drink your coffee. Or if you don’t like coffee, you may want to try tea, fruit juice, or just plain old water.
- Stop to think. The things you read and write down are construction material for your big picture. Use them to clear your thoughts.
- Give thanks. This is good as it sets a more positive mood for your day. There are so many things to be thankful for in our lives that it’s a shame if we’re grumpy all day long.
- Reflect on your learnings. Look back on the previous day and try to remember at least one thing you learned through the day’s experiences. It helps if you write down your ideas throughout the day.
- Remind yourself of the VIP. Who are the most important people in your life? Keep a list and remind yourself to get in touch with them. I struggle at this one – which makes having a list even more important to me!
- Dream. But make sure to do it awake. Think about the things you want to do in life, for example planning your tropical escape (if you don’t know how to do it, get the escapist’s handbook and learn).
- Write down your ideas.
- List your most important tasks. Decide a few (maybe three or four) tasks that you want to get done today, no matter what. You may also add a few not quite so important tasks, but mark the important ones clearly. Try Todoodlist for a really nice way to list your tasks.
After Your Morning Ritual
- Greet your family. If they are still asleep, consider making them breakfast and gently waking them up with the smell of freshly baked bread.
- Do your most important task. Before you open you e-mail inbox, focus on your to do list and do the first task on it.
- Throughout the day, keep updating your to do list. And at night, before going to bed, take a look at your most important tasks. Did you complete them? If you didn’t, why was that?
- Carry a notebook. Write down your ideas, the things you have learned, and other material for the next day’s morning meeting.
- Subscribe to my blog. But make sure you only read it after your morning ritual.
- Enjoy your day!
I’m sure you also have your own image of what a perfect day would be like. And that’s how it should be! My tips are here just to get your imagination flowing, and I’d love to hear what you come up with.
Share your ideas on the comments, and have a great morning appointment!