A couple of years ago I started reading non-fiction in an attempt to learn something new. I quickly found out that I really love reading non-fiction and I also read such books much quicker than fiction, although I do enjoy both equally. Now that I’ve read quite some non-fiction, including philosophical works, self-help and psychological books, I’ve found that not everything in all books work for everyone. But if you take something from all of these books, you’re likely to find some things that work for you and some things that don’t.
Early mornings are the absolute worst
Most of you who know me a little know that I’m not a morning person at all. As a writer, I often find inspiration late at night, but since I have a day job too, I have to get up early to get to work four days a week. I already changed my lifestyle somewhat, by asking my employer what the latest possible time was to start work. This allowed me to start a lot later than most people who have a desk job would. I work from 9:30-18:00, but there’s quite a few bonuses that come with starting late:
- I don’t have to get up very early
- I avoid traffic
- Most colleagues stop at 17:00, so often that last hour is the most productive
I’m really glad that I made this change, because getting up early is not my strong suit and I can tell that it has paid off to start late for me. Less stress, less time stuck in traffic and more sleep, which are all great boons. Maybe the early bird gets the worm, but the night owl doesn’t get stuck in traffic.
But the alarm still goes off…
Sadly, this is a fact and I doubt this will ever truly disappear. We do need some rhythm in our lives to function well. My alarm usually goes off at 7:45, one hour before I have to leave for work. During that time there’s a couple of things I always try to incorporate, which basically form my morning ritual (although a lot of it continues when I get in the office).
The very first thing I do is brushing my teeth and taking a shower. This is how I wake up and I always feel fresh and invigorated when I get out of the bathroom. I don’t shower very long, because I don’t want to waste water and roughly five minutes is usually enough for me.
Once I’m done in the bathroom, I get dressed, but always make sure I’m still in some comfy pants. It’s just one of those things that I really like about being home. I then eat breakfast and take a nice boost of vitamins along with it. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and I really can’t imagine life without breakfast. I usually wake up with a healthy appetite, so some milk and bread are always a great way for me to start the day.
One important thing that I’ve been trying to do lately is to not check my phone before I leave home. Smartphones may have brought us a whole lot of connectivity and entertainment, but I realise that I’m quite “addicted” to that little screen and the urge to get my notifications on all kinds of apps to zero is very enticing. But I am really trying to reduce me screen time, one great move was to remove Facebook from my phone, that really helped me save a ton of time! I’ve found it’s easiest to avoid my phone in the morning. I usually put my phone on the charger after I wake up (because my phone is also my alarm clock) and then leave it there until I have to go.
Create a “me” moment in the morning
One important thing I’ve learned from all of the non-fiction books I’ve read is that it’s very important to make the morning all yours. That first hour when you wake up can be a great boost for your productivity, if you take the time for yourself. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to ignore your partner, or other people who are part of your household. There’s nothing like a good hug to start the morning. But taking some time for yourself and not getting caught up in a massive stream of things begging for your attention is a great way to start your day.
I usually have about half an hour left at this point after breakfast, so what I like to do is see if I can take a couple of minutes to meditate (I usually set a timer for 5-10 minutes) and then do some reading, preferably in a non-fiction book, so you’ll have learned something at the very start of the day! Even if you didn’t really feel like you learned anything, you would have thoughts on what you read and you get your brain working!
After that, I always make sure to say goodbye to Bren and our cats and I never leave home without giving Bren a kiss and a hug.
Wait, where’s your precious coffee?
I admit, I’m a huge coffee addict, but believe it, or not, I don’t drink coffee until I’ve arrived at the office. Not only is it quite bad to consume coffee straight after waking up, I just don’t feel like having any. Once I get in, I always boot up my laptop and go straight for the coffee machine. Once I get back to my desk with a nice cup ‘o Joe the first thing I do is open up Evernote and create a To-Do for that day, usually one I base off my weekly To-Do, which I always make on Sunday evenings. I make two separate ones, one for work and one for personal stuff I want to get done that day. Once the To-Do list is done, I’ll go ahead and check my emails and any other notifications I might have missed. If there’s one thing I have never quite understood it’s how people make a big fuzz about replying to emails and texts a couple of seconds after getting them. If it’s truly important, you should have called me. I’ll go into how I handle notifications in these times of instant gratification another time!
So, let’s sum it up!
There it is, my morning ritual. It’s a somewhat improvised version of the Miracle Morning method and some other stuff I gathered over the years, but it’s what enables me to get a lot of stuff done during the day. Here’s a quick summary:
- Brush teeth and take a shower to wake up
- Get dressed
- Have breakfast
- Say goodbye
- Drive to the office
- Get coffee
- Make a To-Do for that day
- Get shit done!
I hope you liked this peek into my personal life and hope you’ll find something of use for yourself here. I don’t think there’s one “golden” morning ritual. Everyone is different and we all have different needs, but I think by creating a moment of calm before the day starts is a good thing, before you get caught up by all these notifications, people and companies begging for your attention. It’s important to create a moment for yourself, so you can start the day in a meaningful way, without feeling like you’re constantly lagging behind, but knowing you have a plan you can work towards completing!
Have a nice day!