What’s Your Morning Ritual?
Many of us attach a very specific meaning to the term productivity. Take, for example, American polymath, Benjamin Franklin, who woke up daily at 5 am and asked himself a question: What good shall I do today? Or Ernest Hemingway, who regularly woke up at first light and wrote at his “standing desk” (a bookcase on which he stacked his typewriter) uninterrupted till 2 pm. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, too, was an early riser. Knowing he couldn’t rely on his evenings, the Austrian composer wrote every morning from 7 am – 9 am without fail.
Psssst, are you noticing a trend?
These celebrated figures optimized their day-to-day for maximum productivity, and it started with their mornings. Let’s hear it for the early birds, the larks, the early-to-bed-early-to-risers! A solid morning routine is a key to boosting productivity. Do you have one? We’ve culled a few morning productivity tips to help you think about developing your own routine:
Know your why
Ben, Ernest and Wolfgang backed their morning rituals with clarity of purpose—founding the United States, writing Nobel Prize-worthy literature, scoring more than 600 compositions that are considered some of the greatest works in the history of Western music—and they began their mornings with those pursuits in mind.
So what’s your why?
What’s your reason to get up in the morning?
Plan the night before
Here’s a little brain hack: In the evening as you’re winding down, take a few minutes to jot down your to-do list for the next day. This will help you in the morning when your alarm chimes. Having primed your mind for next day’s activities the night before, you’ll easily avoid the snooze button and exit the covers like a pro.
Move your body
Rolling out of bed and into physical activity is a great way to elevate your mood and productivity. A little exercise will help you increase blood flow to your brain and release endorphins—those happy feelings—and have more energy throughout the day.
The kind of activity you do is really up to you so long as you do it. It can be as low key or as rigorous as you like. How about a brisk walk through your neighborhood park or a run along the waterfront? The treadmill will work, too! You could also roll out your yoga mat near a window, hopefully with a little sun peeking through, and spend 20 minutes practicing Cat / Cow, Sun Salutations and Triangle Pose.
Focus your mind
Meditation is a powerful way to start your morning. A habitual practice reduces stress, controls symptoms of anxiety, and even improves quality of sleep. It’s also very helpful for controlling high-pressure performance anxiety.
Have you tried it? Well, my friend, you’re in for a treat. Fortunately for you, the ancient practice has become mainstream. CEOs, athletes and artists alike are touting the physical and mental benefits of mediation practice. There are so many methods to explore!
A lot of people are drawn to breath-based meditation. Here’s a simple five-minute exercise for you to try:
Find a comfortable seated position and close your eyes.
Follow your breath. As the air fills your lungs and your belly expands, say to yourself,
I know I am breathing in.
As the air exits your body, naturally without force say to yourself
I know I am breathing out.
Feel free to repeat those phrases for a few rounds and eventually reduce your speak to
Starting your day with gratitude conditions the mind for happiness, compassion, and kindness.
In the morning while you’re walking through the park, running, or stretching your limbs, find gratitude for three things. What are you grateful for? Focus on the good in your life. It could be as simple as the smell of fresh cut grass or the sun’s warmth on your skin. Reflect on the events and people in your life and be thankful.