We have a saying here in Greece that loosely translates like this:
"You can tell a good day judging from the morning."
I know it's a lousy translation, but you get the idea.
I have to admit; my fellow Greeks have this right.
You can indeed tell whether a day will go fine based on the first few hours of the morning.
And who wouldn't want to have a beautiful day, right?
Don't worry my fellow entrepreneurs, because I've got you covered.
In today's article I'm going to present to you the best way to start your day that will help you stay focused, vibrant and full of energy for the rest of the day.
A few weeks ago, I finished reading "The Miracle Morning" by Hal Elrod. Although I was already implementing some of the things Hal mentions in there, nonetheless, the book gave me a solid road map on how to plan my morning ritual from now on.
After combining some of the best elements of this book and some of my experiences, I've come up with my own version of the *Wonder Morning Routine* that will help you achieve extraordinary results in your life.
How it all started
It was about a year ago. Results in my business were somehow pathetic. Although I was thinking I was putting enough effort in my Kindle Publishing Business, results were nowhere near what I was
wished expecting them to be.
All in all, I was making a few hundred dollars per month from Kindle Publishing, and together with a few gigs here and there, I was barely making a grand per month.
I knew I had to change something, but I didn't have any idea where to start from.
So I decided to start from the...well...the start.
Despite some weird people, every normal human being is designed to operate optimally during the daylight. Contrary to some other species like lions, bats, etc. the human body is equipped with tools (eyes, skin, hair, ears, etc.) to function at its best during the day.
That's not to say, we humans cannot operate during the night (have you ever seen all these drunk people outside the pubs?), but if we need to work at peak performance, we must do so, as long as there's light in the sky.
During this down-slope period, I was waking up at about 10 or 11 am. I was hitting the gym, and then I was eating a heavy breakfast. I logged in to check all the updates on my social media, and then after it was 11:30 am or so I was starting my business life.
At about 2 pm I was taking a break to eat my lunch and then I was taking a nap for a couple of hours.
When I was waking up in the afternoon, I had another coffee, a few more social media parading, a few more tasks and finally a few series or a movie on the TV. Needless to say, I was going to bed at 1 or 2 am every day.
Today, thinking a bit retrospectively, it was no wonder I was making only a few bucks per month - although I got to admit my social life was at its acme during this period.
Fix your morning, fix your day
I had a very inefficient daily schedule, and it was all starting wrong from the morning.
So I decided to make it right from the beginning.
I knew that if I wanted to have a productive day full of energy, I had to wake up early. So by implementing a few tricks that I'm going to mention at the end of this post, I changed my wake up time from 11 am to 8 am and finally to 6 am.
There are quite a few tricks that will help you get there, but as I've seen through my experience, the whole "game" is played mostly in our head.
What I did, was to convince myself that I needed more productive hours of work during the day. I knew I had tasks to do that would bring me closer to financial freedom. So each day I had a purpose to get out of bed.
I had a rock solid reason not to waste another hour of living and achieving things, only because of my laziness.
Take a moment to think about it for yourself. Try to imagine what your average day looks like. I bet that your average day follows the same course your morning follows. At least in my case, this "rule" seems to be correct 99% of the times.
On the days I wake up early, and I follow my wonder routine, I always have a super productive day full of energy. On the other hand, if for some reason I oversleep, or I miss something from my routine, the rest of the day follows in a somehow sloppy way.
Just be honest and admit to yourselves. The same stands true for you as well.
Sure, in the beginning, it was hard to adjust, but as time passed, I trained my brain to like this new regime.
These five extra hours gave me a huge window to compact a ton of more productive tasks during the morning when our mind and body have the most energy and willpower.
Always be prepared
Every great team needs to train before it plays a good game. In the same sense, you'll have to prepare a few things from the night before, so that you'll reduce your decisions to a minimum in the following morning.
A few things I like to do before I go to bed are:
- I set up my Trello board with my top 3 most important tasks I have to do tomorrow. Nothing gets in their way. Unless the house's on fire, I will use all my time until these tasks are complete.
- I prepare my organic green tea. I pour hot boiling water into my French press coffee maker, together with a teaspoon of organic green tea, a mix of various herbs and a few seeds of anise for a fresh aroma. I let it work all the night, and I drink it during my following day.
- Put a glass of water next to my night stand. I'm going to need it.
- I feed the cat (for a second time).
My wonder morning routine to greatness
So, how does my morning routine looks like at the moment? And what are the gains of implementing a similar routine to your life?
Step #1: Wake up time
Like I said, each day I wake up between 6 am and 6:30 am. That time depends on the app I use on my iPhone which is called Sleep Cycle. I give this app a 30-minute time window to wake me up each morning. This app is smart enough to understand my sleep phase and wakes me up when it feels I'm in my lightest sleep phase - or so it claims.
Besides that, the app also offers a ton of other useful info about my sleep patterns, such as sleep quality, average time I went to bed, average time I wake up, plus various other statistics.
Since people in Africa Savannah didn't have electricity for millions of years, they had to adjust their daily routines according to the natural light.
So the most "reasonable" time for someone to wake up is about the time the sun is rising. Depending on the country and the season this time may vary a bit, but at least for the majority of the people, this time should be around 5 to 7 am.
Waking up that early in the morning, besides being beneficial from a physical point of view, it also has the extra benefit of gaining a few extra hours of productivity during peak mental power performance.
I know this time might sound harsh to some but consider this. As Hal says in his excellent book, you snooze you lose. This phrase wasn't born accidentally.
People that snooze their timer once or twice are essentially saying, I got nothing important to do in my life so I can afford to sleep a few more minutes.
Step #2: Check my weight
After I open my eyes for the first time, I head straight to the bathroom where I use the toilet, and then I step up to my scale. I'm in no way a weight or physique freak, but I want to keep it under control at all times.
Measuring my weight each day is helping me to see which foods have the best impact on my body, which make me retain water, which help my digestive system work the best, etc.
Moreover, what I also gain is that I can change a bit what I can eat (or not) during the day. So for example, if I see that my weight is below my allowed limits, I could add some extra protein or fat in my meals.
On the contrary, if I see that I overdid it the day before, I will reduce the calories so that I can drop back to my desired weight.
Step #3: Drink a glass of water
After checking my weight, I always drink the glass of water that I've put beside my bed from the night before.
After 7 or 8 hours of sleep, the body is dehydrated, and a glass of water will help you to reinstate the normal water levels you'll need.
As trivial as it sounds, don't skip this step. The results aren't easy to see, but trust me, they're there.
Step #4: Reading out loud my most important goals
Some people refer to them as affirmations. For some reason, the word affirmation has a negative connotation to my mind. Maybe because people nowadays use the word interchangeably with wishful thinking.
But believe me. This is not the way I read these goals myself.
In my smaller version of my vision/goal board that resides in my mobile, I have put 3 or 4 different goals that are super important to me to achieve.
So this step goes like this:
- I open my trello board called "Most important goals."
- I read out loud:
- I will make more than $10k/mo before Jan 2017
- I will make more than $100k in 2017
- I will move to a new luxury house until August 2017
- I will buy a Ferrari before I become 39 yo
Notice that I don't use the words, "hope," "wish," "it would be nice to have" and all these loser-mentality vocabulary.
I know that I'll achieve all these things when I say I will. There's no doubt in my words or my mind. I don't wish for anything. I'm just stating the fact. I'm winning.I don't wish for anything. I'm just stating the fact. I'm winning. Click To Tweet
But even if for some odd reason (less than 0.0000001%) chance I don't make it, I know that I've done the best I could, and I will transfer this goal for a later date.
Step #5: A one-minute breathing session
Many people say that meditation has tremendously positive effects. I don't disagree. But I don't agree either. I just don't know. And when I don't know something for sure, I say so.
The more spiritual it gets, the more I tend to dislike things. I like to think myself as a rational and practical guy. So spiritual and mindfulness things are not my cup of tee.
But. It's stated over and over again, that all kinds of meditation have many health benefits and it only takes a few moments. So even if none of this is true, you can't go wrong here.
Apple had done me a sweet favor and included a nice little app called breath in the Apple Watch. So what I do, is set the timer for a one-minute breathing session each morning.
A one-minute session includes seven deep breaths and that's it. During this time I try to clear my mind of every thought. I want it to be as transparent as possible. A trick that helps me to achieve that is to repeat some specific words during the breath-in and breath-out phase.
So for example for the three-second breath-in phase, I think the phrase "I inhale power," and accordingly for the three-second breath-out phase, I think the phrase "I exhale excellence."
A bit of positive thinking again. But I can't help it. I like it 😉
Step #6: Reading is mandatory
I think I'm going to need two (or maybe three lives) to read every book in my pipeline. Reading is most probably among the top 3 deciding factors when it comes to someone's success in life.
So every morning (no exceptions allowed), I invest two pomodoros (50 minutes) to read my book of preference.
This is the best way I've found to fill my mind with useful information. Remember what I said earlier? Your day tends to continue the way you start it. So if you choose to fill your mind with trash first thing in the morning by watching TV or the news, this is the way it will go for the rest of the day.
This part is among the best in my wonder morning routine, because I'm an avid reader, and learning new things each day is among my favorite things to do in my life.
This step can't get too technical, to be honest. Just invest one or two pomodoros in filling your head with useful information, and prime yourself for a day full of learning and self-development.
Step #7: Set this body in motion
Have you heard the phrase: "My body is my temple?" Well, my temple or not, I know, that to operate at the optimal level at all times, I need to keep my body in top condition. I'm no expert to talk about the benefits of training. Millions of pieces of content, books, articles, scientific papers, etc. have been written about the benefits of physical exercise.
It's no secret that our modern lifestyle has made us lazier than ever. Everything can be remote controlled, we can go everywhere by hopping on some wheels, and we can even order food over the phone or the Internet.
We can do virtually everything without lifting a finger. But this is far from healthy.
Our body requires a minimum of a few minutes of some form of training per day. Our ancestors had to hunt, to climb or at least to walk to cover their basic needs. Somehow we need to imitate this kind of living to some extent in our modern society.
There are hundreds of options here. You can go for a walk, a run, lift some weights, do some sport like basketball, football, tennis, climbing a mountain, go swimming, dancing, yoga, etc.
The options are endless. What I would propose you to do is try to stick to something. Whatever you choose, just stick to it and make it part of your morning routine. Unless you plan to become a champion at something, it doesn't really matter what you'll choose as your training method.
All forms of exercise have positive and beneficial aspects. For convenience reasons, I choose to hit the gym. My training program is like this.
I go to the gym five times a week. Each day I train a primary muscle group as hands, back, chest, legs, shoulders. I start with weight lifting, by performing the core exercises for about 40 minutes.
Then I run on the treadmill for another 30 minutes. So all in all my training last about 70 to 75 minutes.
I've found that that much training works for me just fine. I cover all the basic weight lifting and cardio needs. For some this might sound a lot, so adjust according to your needs. But in any case try to train at least for 30 minutes, three days a week at a minimum.
This will help all your body functions to operate at an optimal level. It'll help you achieve better hormonal balance, maintain your desired weight, and feel strong and energetic throughout the day.
Mainly I keep doing what I told you before. Filling my head with useful and constructive knowledge and ideas.
So even before I get back at home, I write a couple of productive hours already.
Step #8: Have a dead cold shower
If you think, waking up at 6:30 in the morning is tough, you should try a dead cold shower during winter time lads.
The benefits are many, like increased alertness, refined hair and skin, improved immunity and circulation, faster muscle soreness and recovery, less stress and more.
Oh man, I can hardly describe the after effect of an ice cold shower every morning after the gym.
The best way to include this into your daily routine is to take it slow. Start with semi-warm water and every few seconds make it colder and colder.
It'll feel hard in the beginning but remember. It's all about conditioning. I don't think people had water boilers 100.000 years before, yet somehow they had to take a bath.
An extra useful tip here to always use chemical-free soap, and not every day. Our skin is the biggest organ in our body, and it has its own unique microbiome. By applying soap too often, we don't let those microorganisms do their job.
I know what you're thinking; it's going to smell bad. Trust me it won't. Use soap every two or three days, the rest have a quick cold shower with plain water and wear a fresh set of underwear. It'll work wonders.
Step #9: Positive priming
Most of the days I don't eat breakfast. This article explains why in detail. But when I decide to have one, I usually make it as healthy and light as possible.
Before I start making my breakfast I open my Mac, and I play some cheerful music to get the bit. I cook in up-tempo spirit, while I'm listening to this rhythm.
Fast tempo music works wonders in a subconscious level. It will lift your spirit and you'll feel the need to move in the rhythm.
I always include meal combos high in protein and moderate in carbs. For example, I might shake some whey powder with an egg and a few grams of oats. Or something along these lines.
I like to eat this meal while logging into Facebook or while I check my emails. So I minimize my downtime as much as possible.
Step #10: Let's get to work
Switching my morning ritual to the one explained in this article, made a huge difference in my life.
I can see the tangible results in almost every area. Due to my wonder morning routine, I managed to:
- Improve my productivity X10
- Increase my strength and stamina
- Become a lot more healthy (haven't had a single cold for two years now)
- Feel a lot more vibrant
- Be more relaxed and focused
- Lose 10 pounds and maintain my weight
- Read a lot more books
Summing it up
Here's what my wonder morning routine looks like in realistic time:
6:30 am: Wake up early using the cheat sheet at the end of this post
6:33 am: Check my weight
6:35 am: Drink a glass of water
6:38 am: Read out loud my most important goals
6:40 am: A one-minute breathing session
6:42 am: Read one of my books
7:50 am: Hit the gym
9:15 am: Have a cold shower
9:30 am: Positive Priming and breakfast (optional)
10:00 am: Get to work
Implementing one or all of them doesn't have to become instantly. I have also incorporated all these habits in steps.
Start from the ones that come more naturally to you and then build on them.
You'll notice that as time passes, it'll become easier and easier for you to follow your routine, and by the time you'll have the first noticeable results, it'll give you an extra motive to improve your ritual even more.
P.S. I haven't forgotten. I still owe you the cheat sheet of getting up early with ease. So here you go:
Technique #1: Think of it like Christmas. Like I said before, the most important thing is to convince yourself that this is a big deal. Repeat inside you that tomorrow is another big day for you. Remember how you were waking up on the Christmas day. Full of happiness and anticipation for all the presents and the joy in the house. Try to imitate this feeling and memory. Try to solidify a purpose in your mind for getting out of bed each morning. Become great is a nice one, for example.
Technique #2: Move the alarm far from you. The further away you put the alarm the bigger effort you'll have to make to turn it off. Imagine that if you have to walk across the room or house to put it out, you'll already have done a few steps that will set your body in motion. After that, it'll be easier to continue instead of snoozing it and sleep again. I don't need it because it wouldn't work with the app I use. But if it works for you, please be my guest.
Technique #3: Get yourself a coffee or bacon machine with a timer. Set it to go on a few minutes before you wake up. If the strong aroma of the freshly made coffee or the crispy bacon can't move you out of bed, then I don't know what can.