The Optimum Morning Routine: Building Positive Habits

“If you win the morning, you win the day”- Tim Ferriss

6:15 a.m., the alarm on my phone begins to blink and life screeches into full colour once again to the soundtrack of Six Pence None The Richer. I stretch out a weary hand, press the snooze button, throw the duvet over my head trying to find my way back to dream land for the next eight minutes before I am rudely woken one again. Finally I pick up the phone, scroll through my messages, emails, news reels and my day begins. Sound familiar? Each and every morning we are given an opportunity to start anew. My mobile phone, moonlighting as my alarm clock, quickly and effortlessly hijacks my morning. I start off at a distance from myself. I am instantly encouraged us to see what is going on in the world at large and take note of what I have missed whilst I have been asleep, rather than what is happening in the here and now. If you are anything like me and have experienced these kind of mornings you will know that not only does it not feel very good but it only adds to the stress and distraction of the day ahead.

The internet is bulging at the seems with ideas on how to create the perfect morning routine, improve productivity and feel happier. But the truth of the matter is that we each need something slightly different and therefore no one but you can devise such a routine. We all operate differently with different biological rhythms, different preferences and productivity styles. This is backed up by science which suggests that whether you are a night owl or an early bird is genetic, not a preference. Therefore whilst for one person getting up and completing a marathon before breakfast is easily achievable, for another nothing is achievable before 10am until their third espresso has been consumed. Whilst genetics undoubtedly play a role in our mornings other important factors include our external constraints. As a mother to three young children my morning routine and rhythm in a large part is dictated by the needs and schedules of my children. So does that make all of those Google search results on how to start your day well useless? Certainly not. It is just that you need to treat the different suggestions not as a fixed menu, but as a buffet from which you can build your own ideal morning routine. To quote Bruce Lee “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”

Here are a few inspirations characters that have shared their morning routines. What can you learn from the routines and habits of some of the worlds most highly successful people?

1. Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, and a world renowned authority on the psychology of leadership. As a master of self-discipline and Tony points out that "If you don't have ten spare minutes to work on yourself every morning, then you don't have a life.” Robbins starts each morning by doing 10 minutes of meditation. As part of this exercise Robbins asks himself the question "What three things am I grateful for today?”. By focusing on gratitude Robbins begins his day on a positive note. The research shows that the benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless! People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they're thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

2. Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss is an American podcaster, author, and entrepreneur who’s book "4-Hour Workweek” quickly became a New York Times bestseller. After interviewing thousands of successful business leaders on their own optimum morning rituals Ferris has learnt to adapt his own morning routine in accordance.The first thing that Ferris does is make his bed. Making your bed is a simple and quick way to get a dopamine hit before you even leave the bedroom. It will leave you with a sense of accomplishment and helps to focus our attitude on productivity. Ferris is also an advocate of moving in the mornings. He explains that he will prioritise some time to do some light exercise, usually push ups, followed by hydration. It might feel like exercise is a luxury that you cannot afford when you are rushing to work but it is a good way to wake up your muscles and improve oxygen flow to the brain. Ferris reflects that "Getting into my body, even for 30 seconds, has a dramatic effect on my mood and quiets mental chatter."

3. Oprah Winfrey
Like Robbins, Oprah Winfrey begins her mornings with meditation, which she says fills her with “hope and a sense of contentment and deep joy.” Mindfulness meditation, a type of meditation that had become very popular in recent years has been shown to improve focus, attention and executive function, as well as decrease rumination and negative thinking. You can use apps such as Headspace in order to start your own morning mindful mediation practice.

Take the time to learn those rituals and rhythms that calm you, teach you to be present, sharpen your brain, and most of all, propel you towards the daily goals that you have set out for yourself. The optimum morning routine should generate forward momentum and help to shape the rest of our day. The focus as we develop our routines and learn what works should be on progress and not perfection.

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