When I was in university and heading to burnout city because I was working myself too hard and trying to balance life as a writer, not to mention my other roles of parent, partner etc, I read a book called, The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod. Until that point, I had only heard of Tony Robbins in the self-help arena, but not so much his work, and I had never heard of morning routines.
What are normal routines?
Getting up, brushing your teeth, downing a cup of coffee that’s so hot it leaves scorch marks down your oesophagus, and then dashing out the door and hoping you look halfway to presentable? Is that a morning routine? Well yes. Not a good one, I admit.
Since then I have studied so many morning routines from, Hal Elrod (Miracle Morning Author), Tony Robbins, (That big tall dude who gets people to walk across fire pits), Tim Ferris, (The Four-Hour Work Week author), Jack Canfield, (author of the Success Principles.). These are just off the top of my head. I know there are many more out there and many more I have tried.
I’ve Tried and Tested Them
They’ve been exciting to try, and all of them have been with the mentality for me to learn how to manage my time. Now, I don’t have university any longer, but I am writing full-time, and I want to be as productive as possible, so naturally, getting a morning routine that focuses me to work from home (because it’s tempting to lie on the sofa with a book when the boss is me) is something I need.
It’s Taught Me A lot
These are some of the lessons I used to develop my own routine. I wanted something that worked for me, not just for productivity. My goal was not to turn myself into a robot, but for my mind and my mental health too.
I will write these in the order I do them. Please note, these are all not really my ideas. More an amalgamation of things I have learnt.
“Be pleasant until ten o’clock in the morning, and the rest of the day will take care of itself.”
– Elbert Hubbard
I got this from the book, The Artist Way, by Julia Cameron. She says to write three pages, longhand, in a stream of consciousness style. She calls it the Morning Pages It is supposed to be the first thing, so the thoughts are captured before full waking occurs. Sometimes I do end up doing these later, and I rarely miss a day with them. I have a ton of notebooks now, filled with all my random thoughts. I think this morning, it started something like —
Why am I so wide awake at this time in the morning when I could get a lie in but do dogs dream like we do? Maybe, she twitches a little. Do bodies always twitch after death? And so on.
As you can see, it is totally random, but I believe they help me a lot. I use them when I am stuck with a character in a book. Because you aren’t meant to stop and think, it enables the creativity to come out of me easier.
This came from the Miracle Morning and watching numerous Tony Robbins videos on YouTube.
Working out in the morning gets me up and ready for the day. I do it after I journal. One, because the journal wakes me up, two, because journaling has cleared my head of all that random chatter. I don’t do vigorous exercise in the morning. So, no weights and stuff like that. In the morning it can be yoga, a quick jog on my treadmill or a cycle on my stationary bike.
I sit a lot through the day by being a writer, and no one wants “writer bum.” Is that a thing? No? Well, now it is. Writer bum is when you’ve sat so long that your buttocks have flattened out and then started to sag over the sides of the chair like a fried egg.
No emails, no news, no social media.
I got this from various places. I think Mind Valley on YouTube was the first place. It made a lot of sense to me. So many times, I would wake up, journal, exercise and then browse Facebook while I made coffee, and before I knew it, I’d lost a good half an hour and all that good work of pouring out my thoughts into the morning pages were ruined because social media fills my head with garbage, as does the news, as does emails.
Nothing is going to matter if I make it wait. If something is so urgent, I need to deal with it now, then whoever sent it to me, could phone me.
For me, I don’t let this kind of chatter invade my head first thing. In fact, I’ve taken all social media platforms off my phone, turned off my emails, and deleted any news apps. Surprisingly, I can only use my phone for actually calling people. Like real people with voices and all that stuff. Totally weird, right? Liberating too. Try it.
“Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life.”
– Mark Twain
So, this one is recommended all over the place. Mostly they tell you to read non-fiction, sort of the self-help books I’ve mentioned above. However, when I am exercising, except yoga, I listen to those kinds of books on audio. This kills two birds with one stone.
Even if I have listened to audio, I still read here. I try and get thirty minutes in, but this can change depending on my day. I suppose I should say I get up super early. Usually around 5:30 am. It gives me time to get my head in order for my day.
When I read books, I read ten minutes minimum, but the goal is 30. I do this because I am a fiction writer and I want to get my brain into the right frame of mind for working on my own stories. Sort of oiling the old brain nuggets.
This one came from the Miracle Morning. I try to meditate for ten minutes, but if I get the time of day wrong, no one leaves me alone. I use the Headspace application. Just sit and breathe for ten minutes. It has taken some practice, though. My brain is like a hamster on crack after discovering coffee and then adding too much sugar … can you imagine that? Yeah … I had to train that sucker and make it bow in submission. But we did it.
I now love to sit and just breathe for ten minutes. Meditation is like giving my thoughts a nap. I mean, they need it after the time I make them get up, but it’s calming, for my hamster (I don’t really have a hamster) and me.
This one comes in a little later. Usually, after I have meditated, I get dressed … yes, yes … I do all the above in my jammies with my claw feet slippers on. It’s comfy, okay? But between step 5 and 6, I get dressed, feed me, feed the dog, feed the cats, feed the washing machine, feed the dishwasher … there is a lot of feeding at this stage. I make coffee, and then me and the pooch head to my office, where I grab a prompt, sit down, set a timer and write for ten minutes based on that prompt.
“Morning has broken, Mr. Coffee has spoken.”
As you can see, this routine is geared towards my writer self, but I am sure with tweaks of your own, you can make a routine for yourself with whatever. I mean, any routine is better than ten presses of the snooze button, one dose of get lost, it can’t be morning already, and a hair that looks like you got cow licked walking out the door, right?