he morning routine is a daily ritual that divides us all. Whether you are an early bird that is up in an instant or a night owl that loathes the idea of dawn, it’s no secret that both personalities need a strict itinerary to kick-start the day. The malleable quality of our psychology means we can train ourselves to be as responsive to a morning routine as Pavlov’s dog was to the sound of a horn. Working in an age where we are continuously fed a stream of information and connected to our work at all hours of the day, we have very little time to ourselves when we can switch off. Considering the fact a habit can be formed in just 21 days, establishing a non-negotiable series of morning rituals is a simple answer to the pressing issue of creating more time for ourselves. Reclaim the early hours by prioritising what works best for you and make the process of going through each step the focal point of your morning.
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The ultimate efficiency imposter. The benefits of a morning routine are designed to ground and focus your mind, preparing it for the challenges of the day. Multi-tasking, according to Dr Travis Bradberry, undermines the effects of a relaxed morning ritual, reducing our overall performance to a fraction of what it is when we give a task our full attention. Reiterated by a recent study at Stanford University, Bradberry confirms that those “who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information cannot pay attention, recall information or switch from one job to another” half as well as those who were focused on one task. The temptation to address multiple issues first thing is an urban myth of productivity, one that is almost entirely absent from the morning habits of successful people. It may feel counter-productive to ‘start off slow’ but attempting to deal with three things at once as soon as you’ve woken up rarely creates anything of value.
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Step Away from The Inbox
Interestingly enough, the one fundamental format of communication we depend on at work is now considered the enemy of morning productivity. Very few of us can resist the temptation of scrolling through our inbox in the morning but a recent study has shown that this is can be detrimental to our working psychology. Julie Morgenstern states that the endless “interruptions and…unexpected surprises” that answering emails generates creates an additional unconscious layer of pressure that is difficult to shake off before work. She’s not alone in this school of thought. Alexis Kleiman notes how the purely reactive nature of email stops us from doing anything productive and simply creates stress over things that we don’t yet have full control over. Although email has created a culture of instantaneous communication, taking on the stresses of work before office hours can be incredibly counter-productive. Resist the temptation and skim your inbox at most when you wake up. If responding to something is absolutely necessary, flag important emails and let people know you’ve acknowledged them but save any active responses for when you’re at your desk to preserve the sanctity of your morning routine
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Create a Window of ‘Alone Time’
The beauty of operating on ‘auto-pilot’ is disconnecting your stream of consciousness from what you’re doing. Utilise this sense of isolation to invest more time in yourself. Like many before him, Drew Hendricks relies on mediation for the simple benefit of mental clarity before the working day. Similarly, CNN correspondent Rachel Crane cherishes her daily window of 15 minutes alone before plugging back into the continuous flow of digital media, as it’s the one point of her day which she can be completely disconnected. Making meditation the priority of your morning means that fitting in other tasks on your morning to-do list will simply fall into place because one thing is now non-negotiable.
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List your Daily Goals.
Following your window of alone time, get your brain into gear for your goals for the day. Physically creating a to-do list for the sake of reflection after meditation allows your brain to acknowledge your intention for the day, rather than simply responding to unorganised targets. Graham Young points how the repetition of a habit goes beyond the 21-day prescribed cycle because programming our brains to respond to visual aids like lists creates “new, more dominant memories [to refer to] going forward.” Slipping this into your morning creates a mental checkpoint for your brain to respond to and generates a daily reminder to invest time in yourself, leaving you with a clear idea of your schedule for the day.
Words by Emily Freund