If you haven’t heard our amazing podcast on the importance of morning rituals, we highly recommend it. It’s a great introduction that explains what morning rituals are, and shows you how to set one up the right way. What follows here are some refinements that we’ve made since we recorded that – based on the experiences of other Asian Efficiency readers and our own friends and acquaintances.
There were a number of common issues that people came up against when trying to formulate their own morning rituals, so we decided to cover everything in detail in a text-based article. Some of these issues included length, knowing where the boundaries of the ritual were, and what sort of activities to include, and of course, how disciplined/strict you have to be to really see results from an effective morning ritual (or what some people call a morning routine). Let’s get into it.
Essential Morning Ritual Components
The first thing to reexamine are the essential component pieces of a morning ritual. We found that lots of people would try to cram in as much as they could – and ended up with morning rituals that exceeded 1.5-2 hours in length. Here are what we consider the essential pieces:
Water is probably the most crucial part of your morning ritual – it really is the difference between going through the motions of starting your day and still feeling tired at the end, or going through your ritual and feeling ready-to-go.
We recommend 500ml (16 ounces) of water first thing in the day.
This should be pretty self-explanatory: keep good hygiene.
One thing that AE Thanh introduced me to was the concept of having some sort of physical movement to tell your body that the day has started. He does some light stretching exercises and a couple pushups. I prefer some simple joint rotations and then a quick alignment of my posture against the wall.
We’ve also met people who do a couple of sun salutations, or a quick 5-minute walk on the treadmill.
We’ve written about it before, but your productivity is based largely on your physical capacity to perform. And the fuel for this, is food. Make sure you eat a solid breakfast. What you eat will largely depend on your other health and fitness goals.
Whatever you do, don’t skip breakfast – the productivity consequences of that are extremely punishing.
Goals and Review
You want to make sure you set your goals and outcomes for the day as part of your morning ritual. You can do this in your task management system, or in a journal entry, or however you like. There is the assumption that you have longer-term goals written out already (go ahead and write them if you don’t).
To do this, you want to reference:
- Your goals.
- Your schedule for the day.
- Your task management system.
It may also be worth creating a small outline for what your day is going to look like.
Here at Asian Efficiency we like to place a large emphasis on the social aspect of productivity . Not a lot of productivity writers like to talk about it – I mean after all, aren’t we supposed to all be chained to our desks working 24/7?
To get the social parts of your brain going for the day, indulge in a small Facebook/phone check. I personally think the longer you can delay this the better, but if you must, checking your Facebook and email on your phone over breakfast isn’t a bad way to go.
Start and End
The start of your morning ritual is your 500ml of water. The ritual ends when you begin your most important task for the day.
Ideally, morning rituals are supposed to be short and efficient – no more than an hour. If you workout in the mornings, it’s a good idea to treat that as separate from your morning ritual.
It may take a while in the beginning, but once you’ve gone through the ritual for about 30 days, it’ll be come second nature.
Skipping Rituals and Steps
Don’t skip your morning ritual when you travel. You may not be able to do everything (e.g., eat an ideal breakfast), but do your best.
It’s OK if you skip steps accidentally when you are learning a new morning ritual. A good way to make sure you don’t however, is to print out a piece of paper with a checklist of everything, for example:
- Goals and Review.
- Facebook and Email.
You can then carry this around with you, or stick it on your dresser to remind yourself every morning.
It takes about 30 days to form and solidify a habit. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. And once you’re used to it, you can start swapping in and out extra components to the ritual.
If you have any questions about morning rituals or would like to share yours (or ask questions about it), leave a comment!