Before incorporating some of the techniques and philosophies described in this article, I will provide you will a short account of my morning. BEEP, BEEP, BEEP… BEEP! My alarm rings belligerently as it tries to bring my dormant senses to a subtle arousal at best. I cancel the alarm and forget to press snooze. I wake up thirty minutes later and I jump out of bed in a panic. The bed sheets are left in a deformed and crippled state. I brush my teeth and spend too long in the shower overthinking my entire life.
I’m out of the shower and struggling to find something socially acceptable to wear. I throw on some camo tracksuit bottoms with a pink hoodie looking like a soldier attending a Gay Pride festival. For breakfast, I must deduce the quickest thing to eat. If there are snacks present I go for those, if not probably some cereal that will leave me with languishing energy levels minutes after I leave the house. I will arrive at the library all hot and bothered after spending twenty minutes just trying to find a seat.
So what has changed… Firstly I read Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss where Tim describes the morning routines of the super successful. As a result, I have decided to mould my morning routine around topics covered by Tim while adding my own element of seasoning to the process.
Here is story of my Morning Routine, but before I dive in, I feel it’s necessary to say that the above morning nightmare still occurs however it’s now the exception rather than the rule.
My alarm is a soothing sound as if the wind is gently blowing into the room with the odd chime added for affect. The change of the sound of the alarm has helped me to overcome the feeling on waking up feeling like it’s a fire drill. I silence it. Then I proceed to make my bed.
Making your bed (< 1 minute)
Some days nothing goes our way. We are simply swatted throughout the day with failure after failure. Making your bed as soon as you wake up is something that is entirely in your control. It will provide you with a sense of achievement to set the tone for the rest of the day. It does not have to be perfect. Just presentable, which usually only involves re-fluffing the pillows and smoothing out the blanket. Minor visual adjustments. When you have had a terrible day it’s always comforting to come back to your nicely made bed.
Back to the story: after I have made my bed I grab my phone… and open Headspace (If you thought I was going to say Snapchat I am very disappointed in you). Meditation is practised by 80% of the individuals featured in Tools of Titans. The rest simply take pride in another form of mindfulness so this seems to be as important as a balanced diet and exercise for maximising performance.
Meditation (10 minutes)
Headspace is a fantastic app and I highly recommend it. Meditation is a chance to pause from the chaos of life and explore your thoughts and feelings in a calm and tranquil manner. I have noticed improvements in my concentration, mood, relationships with others and understanding of my own mind, which in the past has often been a troubled relationship. So Headspace essentially acts as a relationship counsellor between my mind and I and a very good one to say the least.
Next up, after the meditation practice has finished (do not rush this), I switch apps into Duolingo. Now this is more of a personal goal but what I recommend is that you swap Duolingo with any micro goal that you may want to achieve that you enjoy doing.
Micro Goal (5-10 minutes)
I use Duolingo which is a freemium language learning platform because I am trying to become fluent in Italian. The main reason is that half of my family is Italian and I am fed up of not being able to converse with them. This really hit home when I went back to Italy last December to meet my Grandparents. They were so proud of how far I had progressed since I last saw them, which shockingly was six years ago.
I felt a sense of shame that I had improved in so many areas but having a conversation with my Grandparents, whom have cherished my existence for twenty years now, was not possible. You may have other things you would like to develop. Set aside 5-10 minutes. Another example could be you want to exercise more. Use this 5-10 minutes for a mini-workout. This could be as little as doing 10 push ups each day. Just do it everyday and witness the macro level improvements from micro level tasks.
After all of this is up, I do check my social media and emails (i’m sorry) however this is done with discipline. I only check notifications and respond to urgent messages. No scrolling on anything. This is done as quickly as possible. I am off to the shower and I do a small gratefulness practice.
Gratefulness Practice (5 seconds in the shower)
I love hot showers so one thing I quickly say to myself in my head is “I’m grateful for this hot water.” It’s a quick statement that reframes your mind to be thankful for even the most basic amenities that we take for granted. I also use hot water because I remember times without it, one time was on a school trip and I had to wade through a mud pit (not my choice we were forced) and when we arrived back at the residential house, the activity leader made us line up one by one and drenched us for a few minutes with cold water from a hose.
It still sends shivers down my spine to this day, so I use that memory to make my gratefulness practice more profound. In Tools of Titans, Tony Robbins has his own practice that he uses in the morning to incorporate the idea of gratefulness in his routine but I have covered the main point here. Remember to think about something that is important to you, that is often taken for granted, but keep it simple so that you encounter this thing each morning.
I’m out of the shower and it’s time to select my outfit. Only this time, I am not exhausting my decision making powers.
This is a genuine concept; we have a capacity for how many decisions we make in a day. Making too many decisions leads to fatigue and that’s why Humans often make decisions based on heuristics to save this precious decision making juice.
I tend to wear the same or very similar outfit throughout the week unless I have a special event. Hygiene is paramount so if anything becomes questionable then it is put in the washing basket. Regardless, I am not struggling to decide what to wear each day which wastes time and valuable juice. It helps that I go to a University where wearing ripped jeans portrays you as a style icon so I have lots of flexibility.
I grab my bags which were packed the night before and venture down to the kitchen where I need to consume the appropriate fill to make sure my engine is firing on all cylinders. I allow variety in my breakfasts because I do get bored easily but I have a staple that usually hits the spot.
A Wholesome Breakfast (15-20 mins)
I usually have four wholemeal toasts or bagel slices with added seeds for good measure. These are lightly toasted because charcoal bread is neither healthy nor appetising. Two of the slices adorn a high protein and a fat source. Peanut butter or Pâté are my usual favourites and both are the best quality brands I can find in Tesco (usually the most expensive) because cheap peanut butter and Pâté contain additional things such as refined sugar, which is the enemy of progress.
The other two toasts or bagel slices brandish marmalade or honey – again, go for the best quality you can afford. I now have a mix of complex and simple carbohydrates as well as protein and fat. In the meantime, I have Rooibos tea brewing because of its high levels of antioxidants and it does not contain caffeine; another one of my enemies of progress.
I may top off with a shot of beetroot juice mixed with cod liver oil for both preventing Vitamin D deficiency and improved blood flow from the nitrates in beetroot. I need as much blood flow as possible to the brain for the study session that awaits as I walk out of the door.
I hope this has given you some ideas for your morning routine. Feel free to message me about specifics like brands and I wish you pleasant and productive mornings to come.
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