Creating a Morning Ritual

When I’m at university I tend to find it very hard to stick to a morning schedule. With a combination of going out on different nights each week, my first appointment of the day changing (sometimes 9am, sometimes 1pm) and the amount and type of work I need to do also changing, that’s not surprising. But now, during the holidays, it is time to refresh the mind, and build up some good habits to carry on into exam term. Here are a couple of tips that I found helped me to build a regular morning routine that sets me up well for the day.

Tip 1: It isn’t all or nothing.
We all have our idea of the perfect morning. Wake up early, make your bed, meditate, drink water (it is important to stay hydrated), do a bit of yoga, have your morning smoothie and get to work. That is a lot. If you plan on doing all of that, remember to congratulate yourself if you get any of it done, especially if you don’t normally do anything. It is alright to sometimes miss out parts of the routine if you don’t have time or really don’t feel like it, as long as you try again the next day, and try to make a little step forwards,

Tip 2: It isn’t all at once.
When building your morning routine, remember to do it bit by bit. Waking up one morning and bouncing out of bed, suddenly transformed into Productivity Guru Tim Ferris is unrealistic. Instead, building your routine slowly, over months, will yield the best and most consistent results. As a place to start, find one thing that you do every morning, whether it is make your bed or make a coffee. Then, try to tack a new habit onto the old one. Build yourself a simple if then statement in you head. E.g., when I make a coffee, I will take 10 slow deep breaths, focusing only on my breath, to improve my mindfulness. Or, when I make my bed, I will do as many push-ups as I can without pausing. Just adding a couple of these if-then statements makes it much easier to build habits.

Tip 3: You don’t need to do it alone.
Whether you get help from a habit app or from a friend that you agree to meet up with each morning, doing it with help is always going to be easier. In the past I have met up with a mate first thing to do some yoga or go for a run, and then we discussed our days together, talking about what we wanted to get done. At the moment I am using Habitica, which is a way of turning habits into tasks to perform for your avatar. I initially thought I wouldn’t like it, but I’m loving it. In the past I have also used Fabulous which was useful for me starting out when I didn’t know what habits to do. No matter what, remember that you don’t need to do it alone.

Tip 4: Don’t make any decisions.
Although planning the next day each evening seems like it isn’t going to change the next morning, I would say that it is worth doing. Decision fatigue is the term for the effect of making many decisions through the day. It has been shown that the more decisions you make during a day, the worse your willpower gets and the worse the quality of the decisions you make. Applied, this means that you should start your day without making any decisions. Before you go to bed, decide what you are having for breakfast, what you are going to wear, and what you are going to start by working on. It will make your day much easier to get started.

Tip 5: Don’t use your favorite song as your alarm.
It won’t be your favorite for much longer.

Hopefully these tips will help you to structure your mornings in a way that will help you live your life the best way possible, and set your day up for success.

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