There have been huge talks about morning routines. Medium is saturated with it. Forbes and Inc are publishing article after article about it. Heck, even Tim Ferriss and other podcasters alike have been asking their interviewees what their morning routines are. There is some mysticism about the whole morning routine game, but rest assured –it works.
The name of the game when it comes to morning routines is to win by the hour and building the momentum of doing what you said you were gonna do, feeling good about your day and yourself and carrying that shit forward till bedtime.
The biggest learning I’ve learned from morning routines from doing it for a year is that you have to get your most important tasks for you by you done first.
Everything, even your job has to wait for you to get to your stuff done.
Getting other people stuff done first may provide relief and assurance, but it won’t give you happiness and the feeling of “I’m winning at my life”
Even on the days I’ve felt I’ve crushed it when I was doing other people’s’ tasks, I didn’t feel as accomplished as when I worked on solving my own problems first.
Another huge learning about morning routines is that it’s all about momentum. Put another way, it’s all about having a winning streak. When you set out to do the things you set out to do, set a low bar (the minimum you would do on a day you are ill) and get that done. Repeat for the other tasks and you start to build an unstoppable steam engine throughout the day.
Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator said during Startup School, that if he had to only give one piece of advice it would be to keep the startup’s winning streak, no matter how small. Having winning momentum matters a lot – it makes or breaks the spirit of the team.
Similarly, when you have a winning streak, you don’t wanna relax just yet. You wanna go all the way.
Here are 3 more things you need to know about morning routines:
1. Set down your one main task for the day
Why one? Because by having to focus on one main task for the day. The rest will work around it. I’ve learned this the hard way after trying the 3 MIT method for the entire year.
Having one thing on top becomes the thing you obsess and think about all day from wake to sleep. You think about it when you are eating, driving and so on. All the other tasks (even #2 or #3) work around your #1 task. You will feel as though #2 and #3 are getting in the way of your #1. And more often than not, you will do an excellent job on the one thing (after all, it’s only one thing).
The funny thing about having your one thing is that even after you are done, you would have been on such a roll that you will continue to do more of it throughout the day.
Having one main thing to focus on simmers your brain to have fun at it since your mind has the luxury to think and come up with more creative ways to solve it, instead of having the feeling to throw it out the window once done.
You would overreach and overachieve just a little bit, getting even more done and feeling better about yourself in the process.
2. Prepare all the necessary materials the night before – lay them out on your desk / relevant places the night before
The point of this is to reduce friction. Why bother frantically searching for your sports shoes first thing in the morning? It starts the day off with a fart and not a bang.
[Side note: This especially applies to your one main task of the day. Mentally prepare the night before and you will get your morning off to a great start.]
3. Sleep 7-8 hours
Anyone who says sleep is for weak people could have been stronger had they slept more. I tried for the longest time to sleep at 10pm and wake up at 4am to take advantage of the early morning quiet. But looking back, I didn’t get much done. And even on the day I did, I wasn’t enjoying myself. I can’t smile back at the memory – it was drudgery. I was daydreaming about getting more sleep. I thought 6 hours was enough, given the fact that 5 hours was a guarantee of having too little sleep.
But on the Friday nights that I do sleep for 8+ hours, I could write much longer and have much higher quality too compared to the 6 hour days. Just fucking sleep more seriously. You will be on such a winning streak that will tire out perfectly come sleep time.
Go to bed exactly 8 hours prior to waking up, so it’s 10pm if you want to wake up at 6am. Reason being our sleep cycles are in 90-minute rounds. So it’s essentially 7.5 hours + 30 minutes to fall asleep.
Don’t forget to put off screen-time an hour before bedtime. In this case, it would be 9pm.
Put these 5 things in mind and you got yourself a rock solid morning routine that will set your day up for success.