How I Developed a Morning Routine and Why You Should Too

Wake up early every day so that while others are still dreaming, you can make your dreams come true.

Hal Elrod

Oprah Winfrey.

Richard Branson.

Anna Wintour.

No, not people I want to invite to a dinner party…

People with a morning routine that steers their day towards success.

I’d read a lot about the importance of a morning routine and how, by establishing one, I could get the most out of my day.

But I’m also human and the thought of being that productive before 7.30am gave me a headache.

via GIPHY

However, I was willing to give a morning routine a go for the sake of research, so I bought the book, The Miracle Morning: The 6 Habits That Will Transform Your Life Before 8AM by Hal Elrod and read it from cover to cover.

Now, with two kids, I was already forced to be a ‘morning person’ but this book made me realise that I’d not been using this time wisely. Apparently lying in bed until the last possible second before getting the boys dressed for school isn’t the best use of my time. Who knew?

But the great thing about Hal’s approach is it’s done in six easy steps.

6 Habits for a Miracle Morning

Hal has developed the S.A.V.E.R.S approach to developing a morning routine, an easy acronym that puts the morning into manageable, bite-sized chunks:

  • Silence
  • Affirmations
  • Visualisation
  • Exercise
  • Reading
  • Scribing

By following these 6 habits, my morning routine would become highly productive and gear me up for an even more productive day ahead.

I decided to start my day at 6.01am. As the mornings have become lighter, this hasn’t been too hard to stick to. Some people begin their days earlier, but this is a time that suits me. I can get the first three habits completed before the rest of the family get up. Apart from Flo’s desire to lick my face, I’m left in relative peace.

Let’s look at each one of the S.A.V.E.R.S in turn.

Silence

The start of each day should begin with time for quiet reflection and contemplation. It clears the mind of internal chatter and allows focused thought. By training the mind to focus on the present moment, it enables you to build these strategies into your day when you feel overwhelmed or stressed.

What have I learned?

I am a big fan of the Headspace app and I have been using it for three months now. I use it to give me ten minutes of meditation time each morning and it guides me to do this successfully. At the moment, my meditation is focusing on improving my self-esteem as my inner critic can be quite a bitch. My head always feels clearer and ‘ready for the day’ after I have completed my ten minutes of ‘silence’ at the start of my morning routine.

Affirmations

Next on Hal’s list of habits is positive affirmations. These are the way to kick-start your dreams and make them a reality. Say your affirmations as if they are goals that are already complete – you’re already living your goal every day and being successful. The language you use needs to be positive too and in the present tense.

Here, I’ll share one of mine.

I am a successful children’s author, traditionally published or something better.

Notice I don’t say, ‘I will be…’ Always start an affirmation with ‘I am…’ and finish it with ‘or something better.’

For a great book about creating affirmations, I highly recommend The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield. It changed my life.

I have six affirmations that I say each and every morning and I repeat them every day before I go to sleep. Out loud is best.

What have I learned?

By following meditation with affirmations, I’ve found that I have a clearer mind to really focus on the positivity involved in this process. Saying my affirmations and visualising them only takes 5 minutes but I’ve found it’s a powerful addition to my morning routine. I feel energised and pumped for the tasks ahead of me and I know why I’m doing them.

Everything I do each day is taking me closer to my goals and the affirmations are making those crystal clear in my mind.

Visualisation

Visualisation goes hand in hand with positive affirmations, so it’s no surprise that Hal recommends doing this immediately after them. By picturing a goal already achieved, you’re ‘tricking’ your brain into believing that this is the reality of your life. In turn, you are more likely to seek opportunities and work hard to reach the point where your vision IS your reality.

For more information on visualisation, read my blog post here.

What have I learned?

Originally, I left my visualisation until the end of the day, just before I went to sleep. I would lie there and say/visualise my affirmations. However there were two problems with doing this:

  1. I would often fall asleep before finishing these two activities or…
  2. Visualising my success would get me so pumped up, I couldn’t sleep!

By putting this task at the start of the day, I am wide awake and ready to do it properly. I’m also able to take the positive energy from it and put that into my day ahead.

Exercise

The most successful people realise that a healthy mind and body produces the best results, whatever their chosen field. By putting exercise into your morning routine, it means you’re less likely to skip it if you leave it until the evening.

The exercise you do is purely your choice, of course, but it should be something you enjoy. Why? Because you’re more likely to do it and keep doing it. Creating new habits is exciting at first, but when that initial excitement has worn off, it can be difficult to stay motivated.

Just ask anyone who has set resolutions on January 1st…

You may feel as though you need to do something that gets your sweat on, but gentle yoga or a walk is just as effective.

What have I learned?

I was dubious about getting up and doing exercise before breakfast. If I’m honest, I didn’t think I’d be able to.

Er, hello fixed mindset!

But doing exercise at the start of the day has been a revelation! I choose something that I feel like doing and vary it up a bit to keep me interested. It’s fallen into a loose routine that’s as follows:

  • Monday/Thursday – weights/body weight exercises
  • Tuesday/Friday – cardio HIIT
  • Wednesday – yoga

I’ve found some great videos on YouTube and I’ve created an Evernote folder with my favourites, making it easier to go back to the ones I enjoy.

I aim for 20-30 minutes each morning. The feeling you get knowing you’ve had a great workout and you’ve got the rest of the day ahead of you is a-mazing. I’m sleeping much better too.

Reading

The best writers read a lot. It might be other works in their genre, it might be non-fiction of some description, but they read. Every day.

Hal recommends setting aside 20-30 minutes per morning to read as part of your morning routine. By doing so, you’re continuously learning and improving in many areas in your life.

Elon Musk reportedly read as many as two books a day in his teens. In one year, he was getting through over 600 books.

It’s worth reading books/articles that are going to help you move closer to your goals. Read purposefully for 80% of the time and you’ll soon see the results in your writing.

What have I learned?

I’ve always been a reader and this year I set myself the challenge of ‘reading my age in books’ – 37 if you must know!

By setting aside reading time each morning, I have found that this challenge isn’t unachievable. I purposefully choose books that I want to learn something from as I find I’m more able to focus at this point in the day.

I read over breakfast, usually a chapter or two, depending on their size. Developing this habit means I’m absorbing loads of really useful information that again leads me closer to my goals.

Scribing

Journalling isn’t new. Personally it’s always made me think about keeping a diary as a teenager and using a fancy lock to keep my teenage woes a secret!

But journalling as an adult is highly effective. People use their journals for different things and Hal suggests spending 5-10 minutes putting your thoughts on paper during your new morning routine.

Some have a gratitude journal, others write down how they’re feeling as they take on new adventures or attempt new things in their lives. Research shows that an ‘attitude of gratitude’ makes you a happier person overall as you realise that you have a lot to be thankful for. You’re less negative and more optimistic.

No negative Noras here, thank you very much.

What have I learned?

I’ve tried journalling a few times over the years and I’ve failed to stick to it. For Christmas, my husband bought me the 5 Minute Journal from Intelligent Change. It’s a great little journal that helps you focus not only on gratitude, but also the things you want to achieve that day. You fill in a section in the morning and a reflective section in the evening. It truly takes 5 minutes.

By adding this on after my reading each morning, I’ve found that I recognise all the things that make my life a happier one. From small things like a warm bed to big things like my desire to learn, there is always something. I think it’s changed my outlook on life in general.

I also have a journal that I keep for filling in weekly, e.g. what have I achieved that week that I’m most proud of? What do I need to focus on next week? How close am I to my goals? I also use it to make notes in from any books I’m reading.

Summary

Creating a morning routine takes dedication and perseverence. There may be times when you don’t achieve all the things you had planned to do. Some days I run out of time to do my scribing during the morning session, so I fill it in over lunch. Other days I won’t read for quite as long.

It has to fit in with the people I live with!

You might find that you start with the first two of the S.A.V.E.R.S and build it up from there. Make the process work for you. You could try it twice a week and then add another day when you feel ready. It really is up to you.

It’s good to reflect on what’s working and what isn’t. I’ve come to realise that setting the alarm for 6.01am gives me enough time (usually) to achieve the six habits in my morning routine. However, if I find that it’s too much of a rush, I’ll move the alarm time to ten minutes earlier.

As with everything in life, it has to evolve and change as circumstances change.

One thing I will say however, is that establishing a morning routine has had a truly positive impact on my life. My days feel more purposeful and more organised. I feel as though I’ve achieved a lot before 8am and this spurs me on to achieve more in the hours ahead of me.

I encourage you to try it. The rewards are plentiful.

 

Do you have a morning routine? What works for you and could we try it? Leave your comments in the box below.

Mindset, Productivity