“Routine basically gives us the mental freedom to think about what’s actually important. That way we don’t have to think about all the mundane aspects of life. Getting to relegate all those things to sort of an automatic thought process, we gain all the mental bandwidth we need to do the really important things in life”, says Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.”
The reason routine is so important to our mornings comes down to the science of self-control. Researchers at the University of Nottingham and the National Institute of Education in Singapore concluded the longer the day goes on, the more fatigue your self-control experiences, so the more important it is to make those early morning hours count.
FastCompany examined the morning routines of some of the world’s most successful people.
Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief at Vogue, starts each day at 5.45 with an hour-long tennis match. Benjamin Franklin had a fixed three-hour morning routine, while David Karp, founder of Tumblr, refuses to check his email until 10am.
The latter is a fascinating one. For many of us, checking email and social media feeds is automatic within moments of waking up, or certainly before we’ve started an important task. Constantly checking email and social media hijacks our focus and sets a reactive, rather than proactive, tone for our workday.
We are all different, physiologically and psychologically, so I’m not about to list a miracle morning routine that will guarantee you success, this is something you need to consider yourself for your own circumstances.
Just don’t underestimate its importance.
Expected to arrive at the office by 9 and leave by 5, employees have a routine baked into their contracts. Entrepreneurs don’t, so creating the right morning routine is critical to productivity and success.
Here’s a few ideas to get you thinking about creating your own entrepreneurial morning mindset.
1. Wake 30 minutes earlier
For many this seems unthinkable, but the solution is simple. Just go to bed 30 minutes earlier. Do you really need to watch that third episode of Breaking Bad, or search for another lolcat to share on your Tumblr?
Waking earlier gives us the time needed to fit in our new morning routine.
2. Look after number one
Exercise and healthy eating. Two hot topics at this time of year and both ideally suited to a morning routine. If you find yourself regularly skipping that after-work zumba session or lunchtime walk, try switching your exercise to the early morning, when your willpower is at its peak.
If you, like me, find the thought of a workout about as pleasant as root canal surgery, just explore different options. Last year I began to walk the 40 minutes from my home to DIGS instead of taking the bus. The difference in my focus was remarkable.
3. To list or not to list?
When was the last time you felt you didn’t achieve anything in the day? Had you actually planned to?
Debate rages about whether to-do lists are good or bad. For me, they work brilliantly, as the feeling of achievement as I cross off each item throughout the day spurs me on. But even if they don’t work for you, knowing what you need to do today as soon as you wake up can only be a good thing. It focuses your mind, prioritises your day, and almost certainly stops you procrastinating and delaying the start of your working day.
One common tip from entrepreneurs is to organise your day the night before, just before you go to bed. This has the added benefit of a “brain dump” that may even improve the quality of your sleep. Give it a try!
4. Do the same one thing, every day
In the last few months of 2014 I committed to write 500 words every morning. Why? Well, first and foremost, I’m a writer, and if I’m not writing words, I’m not getting paid. But more importantly, I have many long-term projects that need regular attention to move them forward, yet often got lost in the mire of daily work which I deemed more important (the downside of to-do lists)
If I manage to write just 500 words every day this year, that’ll be 182,500 words in total, or over two decent-sized novels. That’s the power of committing to a small “unimportant” task every day.
I use a great little app called Commit, which pops up on my phone once a day to ask a simple question, “Did you do X today?”. The frustration at breaking the chain of days is a surprising motivator.
Does it work? Yes. In December, I released my first Kindle book, which I’d planned all year but made almost no progress on until I started this new habit.
Can you do something similar? Maybe not writing, but how about producing X lines of code, contacting X customers, or reaching out to X new prospects?
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” “And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something” – Steve Jobs
If you create a morning routine full of positive habits that work for you, the rest of your day will seem like a walk in the park.
Join us for Technoport 2015 as we seek to awaken the entrepreneurial mindset.