Creating a Morning Routine – Double Productivity, Find Flow State & Increase Happiness

Do you roll over in bed and spend the first half an hour of your day scrolling through social media on your phone? You need a morning routine.

Maybe you drag yourself out of bed but it takes you a couple of hours to ‘get going’ and get in the zone to do anything useful.

Having a morning routine gets the day started on the right foot. Leaving things to chance is a dangerous game because you are at the whim of your moods rather than actively taking control of them.

Why you should have a morning routine

A routine will boost your productivity no end. Rather than procrastinating, wasting time or getting caught fighting fires you are getting straight in to the things you identify as most important, with no distractions, when you have the most energy.

Routines act as triggers, it flips your mind in to the right focus. In NLP it’s called anchoring, when you do certain activities if repeated enough times and anchored to certain behaviours, it becomes a trigger. Everyone has anchors. If you’ve ever heard of a bloke called Pavlov, you’ll know that even dog’s have anchors. They’re mental shortcuts. You can use the good routine to get you easily in to a flow state for your work.

I’ll tell you about my morning routine in a moment but first I want to cover something that bugs me…

Should I get up at 5am?

“That’s what all the successful people do”.

Bollocks to that. I usually get up between 8-9am and here’s 7 reasons why:

  1. I train hard daily in the gym, so I need more sleep than average to fully recover. 8-9 hours rather than 6-7 I need when I’m not training.
  2. I do my best work at night. My most product and creative times are the first 3 hours of the day and around 6-11pm. I will often work beyond that and then have some down time before going to bed.
  3. I like to have a social and sex life. It’s difficult when you go to bed at 8pm.
  4. I wake up naturally. Quality of life is so much better when you don’t have an alarm clock. If I was to naturally wake at 5 and felt fully rested, I would get up. But I don’t. So I don’t.
  5. I don’t have a job, rarely get email and generally work with people I am 6-14 hours ahead of. Meaning I don’t need to be up hours before anyone else to focus without getting crap thrown at me. I don’t have a boss to answer to, I purposely don’t get much email and I still have a few hours before clients are up anyway. Plus, when I do need to speak to them it helps if it’s not my bed time.
  6. I know my body. I worked as a personal trainer for 5 years. During which time I was typically in the gym by 7am. I know that I feel and perform better when I sleep in and work to my natural cycle.
  7. Is there anything cheesier than those motivation quotes that purport getting up at 5am???
Working away...at night: not part of the morning routine

Working away…at night

My morning routine

My routine changes and evolves depending on current priorities, what I’m working on, etc. Here is what it looks like right now:

  1. Wake up naturally, at whatever time I please.
  2. Drink a litre of water.
  3. Quick stretch/pop my spine.
  4. Cold shower.
  5. Collect my work stuff and drive to the morning’s coffee shop of choice.
  6. Drink coffee (on empty stomach), while I…
  7. Write 10 things I’m grateful for.
  8. Write the day’s 10 ideas from Become An Idea Machine by Claudia Altucher (Amazon)
  9. Set a timer for one hour and do ‘Copy Hour‘. Basically, copying out successful ads, sales letters for an hour by hand (yes it makes your hand ache). This is my current main area of study.
  10. After the hour of writing I’ll just take a break for 10 minutes and catch up on messages, email I got overnight.
  11. Check my list of priorities for the day and get to work on something.
  12. Breakfast usually around midday.

Why do you do those things specifically?

I specifically do these things for the following reasons…

I mentioned above, I don’t want to wake up to an alarm, it significantly lowers my quality of life. When I do wake, I start by hydrating. Living in Thailand has its occasional downsides. It’s either really dry from the aircon or really hot, so you’re going to be dehydrated. Everyone should be drinking a good amount of water first thing anyway because you haven’t consumed any water for 8+ hours.

Next I’ll stretch out a little as I get up and jump in the cold shower. It wakes you up, makes you alert and focused straight away, while building discipline. It’s also good for testosterone levels and the immune system.

I’m a coffee fiend so that’s always first on the agenda when I am up and out. Once I’ve ordered I’ll sit down and do my gratitude journal. Gratitude is great for mood and overall happiness. It is a really simple thing that will improve your quality of life. I used to do it in the evening, but I shifted to morning as my evenings are unpredictable now I don’t have to be up at any particular time, so it’s best to keep routines where I can control them.

Now that is a pretty damn good coffee and gratitude spot

Now that is a pretty damn good coffee and gratitude spot

After gratitude I do the 10 ideas from the Idea Machine book. I read this a couple of months ago and really liked the concept. I definitely think it makes you more creative and helps the brain make connections between things. I notice i when I’m doing Copy hour afterwards – I will always be thinking of how I could use a variation of the ad or adapt parts of it for my businesses.

After Copy Hour I’ll start on work for the day, before having breakfast when I feel hungry or start to lose focus and need a break.

What else could I do in a morning routine?

My routine is pretty busy right now. Copy Hour consumes a lot of time for a morning routine so it had to displace other things I might otherwise be doing.

  • Meditate
  • Read over your goals and values
  • Affirmations
  • Cardio
  • One Big Thing
  • Green juice
  • A commitment of the biggest thing you want to work on right now (such as book in X sales calls, apply for X jobs, write X words of your book – similar to one big thing)
  • Stretching

As priorities change and I complete the things (Idea Machine & Copy Hour) that have defined ends I will switch other things in to the routine.

What does your routine look like now?

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  • Dom

    Hi Phil,

    Thank you for this interesting post.

    I’m just discovering your blog and my first impression is that it is rather good, with thoughtful posts, although to be truthful I have just gone through a few of them and skimmed quickly over the titles. But I will come back and explore that much is certain !

    I was wondering whether you could relate your experience of the 10 ideas per day Altucher exercice. How long have you been thinking up 10 ideas a day ? Was it difficult at first? Have you kept the daily rhythm? Has it changed you and in what ways ? Have you been doing it for a sufficient amount of time so that you have indeed become an Idea Machine ? Is it true that it is then possible to find easily good idea on the spot ?? What is it like to be an Idea Machine ? etc…

    Perhaps another similar post on the 10 grateful ideas a day ? (I guess I have myself found 2 ideas today …)

    I’m being selfish here since you have asked what does my routine look like ?
    I do hope to contribute here in a later post but as it is late…
    Warm Regards

    Dom

    • Thanks for the comment Dom. I’ll write more about the idea machine in a dedicated post. Will drop the link in here when it’s complete in a day or two

    • Hi Dom,

      Thanks for the comment and kinds words. Apologies, I replied previously but it didn’t seem to post.

      I will write up a post about the idea machine and post the link up here.

      Phil

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