According to neuroscientist Robert Cooper, the first 22 minutes of the day determine how the brain will function for the next several hours. Your first behaviors and thoughts upon waking determine how the day is going to unfold – the level of focus, energy and creativity you can access. It should be no surprise then that a morning routine is one of the habits that most successful people share. Creating and sticking to a daily routine that works for you can have a major impact on how the rest of your day goes.
Designing a morning routine that includes steps meaningful to you is a simple way to incorporate mindfulness into your day and life. It is the difference between consciously deciding how you go out into the world rather than being at the mercy of it. You get to actively choose your mindset for the day instead of being pushed into it.
The way you do your mornings sets the tone for the rest of your day. Incorporating mindfulness during your morning time allows you to start your day with a clean slate, positive outlook and clear intentions of how you want the rest of your day to go. Let’s face it, if you do your day right, you’ll do your life right.
Starting your days without a routine is the equivalent of a team going into a game without a game plan or starting a business without a business plan. The key is to find a routine that incorporates elements that are important to you, that empower and help you set up a positive mindset to carry with you throughout the day.
Today, most people wake up and immediately reach for their phones or laptops, hop on Facebook, Twitter, or email or check the news. This habit does not help you achieve your goals; in fact, it completely distracts you from them. By tuning to social media and emails, you are choosing to start off your day focusing on what OTHER people want you to pay attention to and committing yourself to other people’s agendas. Nothing could be more detrimental to your well-being. When we tap into the world of data too soon upon rising, we tend to start thinking about, worrying over, or anticipating something in the future, something that needs to be done – usually for someone else. Instead, choose to create a functional and significant routine that lets you enjoy some stillness, visualize how you want the rest of your day to go and gently awaken your body from rest. Create a vision that makes you want to jump out of bed and tackle your day.
If we give ourselves the opportunity to begin our day in a state of openness and receptivity, we have access to our best thinking, our innate wisdom, and our capacity to act creatively. What would a day be like if we had easy access to those aspects of ourselves? So, in those first minutes of the day, if we gear the mind toward openness and receptivity, it allows for more efficient and creative means of solving problems.
Another practice that contributes to productivity is setting intentions for the day. At some point in those first 30 minutes of waking, think into the next 15 hours and decide what needs to happen – what you want to happen. Declare your goals, your actions, the offerings of benefit that you know will make this day feel meaningful or purposeful or productive. Doing this directs you toward a better, more productive, or more satisfying day. If you like putting pen to paper, set those intentions in writing. Once you set an intention, life organizes itself around that intention.
Your morning routine should be personal and include those things that make you feel at peace, centered, open and joyful. These are as unique and individual as each of us is. Do an experiment with yourself and see what kind of results you get. Tweak your morning routine until it is exactly what you need to start your day in the flow of life. Establish a 30-minute power start to your day. Read, write things you are grateful for, pray, move gently, stretch, meditate, drink coffee (preferably Bulletproof) or tea, walk the dog, step into nature – any activity that allows you to experience your natural state of presence and ease. Then, in writing, set your intentions. And at the end of the day, see if you don’t feel happier about the way the day unfolded for you.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” – John C. Maxwell