John C. Maxwell is one of the foremost writers on productivity and leadership in today’s modern era.
He’s also spoken and interviewed with hundreds of top performers and discovered a game-changing secret; they’ve all built solid morning routines that help them start the day right.
‘You’ll 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
What comes to mind when you think of the word routine?
You may have developed a negative relationship with the word, but generally, a little routine in life is healthy.
You likely brush your teeth every day.
Perhaps you have a glass of water after getting up in the morning. These are great examples of good routines; not to mention they help keep bad breath at bay.
A great morning routine can:
- Improve your mental health and increase your longevity.
- Maximize your productivity.
- Grow your writing business and boost your income.
If I were to ask you “What does your current morning routine look like?” What would you tell me?
Let me paint a familiar picture. The alarm goes off, you swing your arm around helplessly in the dark and eventually contact the snooze button.
You’re desperately trying to nab five more minutes of precious sleep.
Unfortunately, a few minutes turns into an hour, or two, and before you know it, you’re rushing out the door, coffee in hand.
But the morning doesn’t have to look like this. It can look better, a whole lot better.
1. Have a Compelling Reason to Wake Up
Something must be stronger than the tempting warmth of the pillow in the morning.
How else could Apple’s CEO Tim Cook get out of bed at 3:45 AM every day? What’s the secret? Passion. Each day Tim sets intention for the day by getting up early and tackling the most important work first. His method works; Apple recorded a profit of $1.3 trillion at the end of 2019.
But you’re probably not the CEO of a huge technological empire, and as a freelancer, it can be difficult to avoid sleeping in.
Think about it. You don’t work for a company.
You probably don’t have a supervisor to report to. You can “clock-in” whenever you’d like. How can you beat the morning grog and win the day?
Put your most important and most impactful task first.
In the best-case scenario, you’ve set this task in the evening of the previous day. Then, when you wake up, you’ll have exciting, progress-making work ahead of you.
Pro tip: Write it down so you can see it. It will act as a visual reminder that will motivate you and help set intention for your day.
2. Get Moving!
Time is tight. You’re busy and you don’t feel like you have the space to focus on the things that matter.
Your health is important. Prioritize it! How many times have you told yourself that you don’t have time to exercise?
The best way to ensure that you can make time for the things that matter is to put them at the beginning of your day.
Take Jocko Willink for example, he’s a retired United States Navy SEAL who wakes up at 4:30 AM everyday to workout.
The workout helps him to wake up, getting blood and oxygen flowing to his brain. Not only will a workout help you to wake up in the morning, but it will also leave you feeling energized for the rest of the day.
You might be intimidated by Jocko’s early wake time, but know this, it’s the principle that is important.
If you wake up at 6 or 7 AM that is fine, the goal is not to wake up at 4:30, the goal is to become an early riser who puts health first.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Do you meditate or pray in the morning?
You are not alone. Tim Ferriss, the author of the book Tribe of Mentors, found that 90% of the top performers he interviewed participate in some form of morning mindfulness.
Clearing the mind before beginning to write is a great way to reduce writer’s block.
Have you ever started to write only to be interrupted by an unexpected thought?
Perhaps you begin to think of the phone call you had with a family member the day before, or, about something your partner said to you over dinner. Either way, a
distracted mind is not a productive one.
Don’t forget that it is writing that earns the money in our business. We can pitch all day, think of new ideas, and hope for new opportunities, but if we don’t have words to present and sell, then we don’t have income.
Mindfulness allows you to get all your messy disorganized thinking out of the way before you start writing.
Keep a journal close by in case you think of something important; you can write it down so that you don’t forget. However, you should quickly return to your stillness. It’s important to choose a place in your home where you are most comfortable.
Position yourself for success. It is important to have everything that you might need close at hand to limit distractions. In case it wasn’t obvious, this is not the time to have your phone on you.
Go ahead and silence it. Checking your cell in the morning is detrimental to your health. It increases stress and clouds your thinking. Both of these decrease your productivity and reduce your longevity.
4. Drink Water
When was the last time that you had a drink of water?
At a minimum, if you’d got a good night’s rest, it’s probably been 7-9 hours since your last glass. When you wake up your body is dehydrated. Healthy people consume between 30-50 ounces of fluids each day (that’s about 6-8 glasses of water) to keep their bodies and minds in tip-top shape.
Water is critical to the function of many of your body’s systems, including but not limited to your joints, bones, muscles, heart, brain, and eyes.
Why not give your body a morning energy boost by giving it the water it needs to run effectively? To make it easy, keep a glass of water by your bedside; it makes it easy to have water first thing in the morning and reduces excuses.
Do you go for coffee first thing in the morning?
Coffee contains caffeine which acts as a dehydrating agent. Coffee isn’t inherently bad, but it’s important to manage your consumption in the morning. Pairing your coffee with a glass of water will ensure you receive the energy-boosting effects of caffeine without the damaging effects of dehydration.
5. Start the Night Before
Think about the last time that you went on vacation.
You might have picked out a destination, completed initial research, and purchased plane tickets in advance. The days leading up to your departure you probably set your house in order, made sure the grass would be cut, ensured the mail would be checked, etc.
You probably packed clothes the night or two before, and, the night of, you probably set out your outfit, boarding pass, keys, and wallet or purse.
What does this have to do with a morning routine? Preparation.
If you had a relatively smooth trip, making it to the airport on time, having your boarding pass easily accessible, it’s probably since you prepared the night before. The same principle applies to morning routines.
To ensure the greatest chance of success, it is important to “set the stage” so to speak. This means that if you want to exercise first thing in the morning, then you should set out your workout clothes the night before.
If you want to ensure that you work on the most important tasks to grow your writing business, then you should probably write them down and put them somewhere visually easy to see, like a todo list or personal journal.
Taking these small steps the night before will help you to have a stellar morning.
A great morning sets you on the right foot for the rest of the day, helping you to increase your productivity, get things done that actually matter, and grow your business.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and grow your business!