The morning is the foundation for the rest of your day. With a strong foundation you will build momentum towards the things you want to achieve. An effective morning routine is the best way to ensure you have a productive day. Entrepreneurs, CEOs, and athletes all have morning routines them help them achieve success.
The Big Two: To-Do List and Eat Your Frog
There are two things I recommend to people who want to become more productive in the morning:
You should spend time the evening before writing out your tasks for the next day. In the morning you should know the tasks you need to complete that day. Then in the morning you can read over the list you created the night before. Therefore you know what you need to do; no need to think about your tasks in the morning. Keeping lists and using a calendar is vital for productivity.
Eat Your Frog
The task you tackle earliest in the morning is your biggest task. This is called “Eating Your Frog”. Your frog is the big task that you are most likely to procrastinate on.
Think about it, in the afternoon you may have social engagements, you are more likely to get distracted. In the evening you should be spending time with family or friends. If you are productive at night (e.g. a night owl) then maybe you may be able to tackle the frog. However for 90% of us the best time to eat the frog is in the morning. It also builds momentum for the rest of the day.
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” – Mark Twain.
If it’s 10 am and you have already completed your biggest task of the day it feels great. Most people spend the first part of their mornings following the news and responding to emails and checking their social media notifications. Eating your frog is the single best productivity switch you can make with your mornings. The rest of your morning routine will depend on your life circumstances, but if you’re eating your frog every morning you are ahead of 90% of people.
One Size Does Not Fit All
The best morning routine will vary for each person – there can be no one size fits all morning routine. Some people are early risers, and some people are night owls. If you are productive at night don’t try to become a morning person, if you do solid work from 10 pm to 2 am, don’t try to get up at 6 am to work again.
My morning routine:
I get up at 6:30 am and make my bed. I then sit on the rug in my room and meditate until around 6:45, this is not timed and the length varies slightly every day. I then make a cup of french press coffee and go into my home office and begin writing. I usually write until about 8:00 am and then eat breakfast. I leave my house at 8:25 to go to work.
My frog is writing. It is something I need to do when my brain is fresh. After work I do not have the mental energy to write high quality articles. I use the evenings to go the gym, socialize, or handle miscellaneous tasks. If you are too tired in the evening to go to the gym than that may be the frog you eat. It all depends on the person.
There are, however a few things I caution you to avoid in the early mornings to ensure you are productive.
a) Sugary breakfast foods. These foods will give you an insulin spike and an ensuing crash. This is obviously not the right way to start your day.
b) Using an alarm on your smartphone. This only applied to people who still have a smartphone. When you use the alarm on your smartphone you are using your smartphone first thing in the morning! You will see notifications on your home page and these will effect your mindset.
c) Checking email/social media. Backpacking off the previous point, these are distractions and will lead to information overload and inevitably affect your mindset. You can check them after you’ve eaten your frog.
Create a Ritual
You can create a ritual out of your morning routine. In modern life most of us don’t have enough rituals. You should want to jump out of bed every morning because of what you going to do during the day. The perfect morning routine will ensure you are productive (your frog gets eaten!) and positive. You should have a smile on your face when you leave your house in the morning. If you cannot be productive and have a positive outlook on life you need to make lifestyle or mindset adjustments.