Hotwire Your Personal Morning Routine for Maximum Effect
How a morning routine is superpowering my recovery.
I had a traumatic professional experience a few years ago that resulted in an ugly period of creative and personal depression. It was a struggle to find motivation to get back to doing what I wanted to do. In part, this was because the nature of the breakdown involved questioning the reasons I had chosen my particular path – what my interests were – and whether they were still relevant at all.
Balancing the need for creative, professional and personal effort after a motivational breakdown is a daunting task. In my case it felt a little like I was trying to clean up a crash scene. It was as if a car had careened through the front window of the storefront of my life. There was a ton of debris and mental destruction and emotional stock to be written off, and somehow I had to figure out how to stay open for business, so to speak.
It was (is still) a slow and sometimes painful process. But the one thing that has proved most useful in working through it is the idea of a routine-based personal morning task list. Most people understand the idea of a personal daily task list, but some still miss some of the key finer points in making it effective. I did for a long time.
I have since found that, for me at least, a personal task list needs to have certain “routine” characteristics to make it truly life-changing and effective.
Elements of routine:
There are some things in your life that you want to work at constantly. Maybe it’s maintaining some kind of physical workout, reading, or creative work like designing or blogging. Setting up a daily task list that makes these things a routine part of your “cycle” is a very real and measurable way to keep plugging away at your goals.
My cycle runs a week. Every day of that week, I have a set time for physical workouts; a set time for writing every morning (gets the brain juice flowing); and a set time for other morning stuff like dishes, breakfast and so on.
Take each task a step further – write it down and be specific:
I’ve detailed each exercise for every routine that I do every day – actually listed it in the task, so that I know what I have to do when I get there (each day is a different type of exercise – variation is fun for me). Same with the writing… I know what topic I’ll be writing on each morning, because I’ve already decided it more or less before I get there.
You can apply the same to the other tasks… plan your breakfast the night before, collect all the dishes to one place, and so on. The idea being that: the more specific you can get BEFORE you start the task, the easier it will be to tackle that task. I even lay out all my “gym” clothes before I go to bed, so when I roll out from under the covers all bleary-eyed, I don’t have to think about anything beyond “here it is.”
Refine and alter from time to time:
Feeling that you need to change one or two things after you’ve tried a set routine is not a failure. It is in fact a sign of progress. I’ve switched days on my routines, or ditched certain tasks altogether because they weren’t as important to me as I thought they had been before.
And it’s taken a while to find ideal time blocks within which to execute the routines. But that’s ok. What’s more important is to constantly look at the tasks and routines and evaluate them – are they meeting your personal needs? If not, change them. To be honest, if they aren’t evolving, it’s likely you’re not either.
The knock on effect of this is that the effect has been felt into the work day and its tasks as well. We’ll talk about that in another article. At any rate, so far the morning routine’s worked wonders for me, despite where I started “the habit” from. Can a personal morning routine work for you? Share some thoughts in the comments.
Anton Marshall has discovered that he can do a lot more things if he organises his day. Follow him on twitter @antonmarshall