Image from Urban Outfitters
Over a year ago, our days started pretty crazy sometimes we would begin with a call from a client saying they had issues with email or maybe by a morning groggy from a late night the night before. Mornings were honestly THE WORST. I hated the leftover haze of the alcohol I drank the night before to get through a pile of work. I would pound a few coffees, eat some toast, and jump into emails just as I had done the day before and the day before that one. By three in the afternoon, I was jacked on coffee, my creative juices were shot, and I felt I accomplished nearly nothing even though my day was spent “working” non-stop. Then on top of that, you could forget me even thinking about getting to personal projects. It was late nights and early mornings day-after-day. We went with it because we thought this is how you make it happen.
It wasn’t till we hit a wall where one day Mike and I weren’t speaking to one another that we finally realized it was time to rethink this whole thing. We knew this way wasn’t the best way, and there was no way anyone was making great work like this because we knew we weren’t creating our best work that way. We did research and talked with friends. There were piles of books and resources other entrepreneurial friends offered us, but the one thing that kept surfacing was the idea of creating morning rituals and recentering your days. I figured anything that made my morning better was a win.
Over the last year and a half or so, we have completely revamped our rituals and routines, and it has taken hard work, but now I couldn’t be happier with how that work has resulted in calm, collected, and rewarding days. I want to share our routine, but first here are the five reasons why we believe in creating rituals for your morning.
- Rituals establish a rhythm:
This may seem obvious, but identifying rituals for your day especially in the morning will create a rhythm and pace to your life. This means you have to choose your rituals wisely. Thinking about how each ritual makes you feel and the energy it creates within you is extremely important. If watching the news in the morning calms you and excites you this may be a good choice for you, but if it makes you anxious it may be something that will drive away your creativity. Rituals should be focused on creating a calm, cared for environment not just physically but most importantly for you mentally. This is most important for people who are solving problems daily and creating regularly. When we can create this kind of environment of safety and calm, we can create and feel a lot more freedom during our day.
- Sets the tone for your day:
Beginning your day with things such as email or Facebook, can be harmful to the tone you set for the day. In just a few short glances and scrolls, you can enter the day with anxiety or stress before you have even had a cup of coffee. Shielding yourself from these things in the early part of the day can make all the difference. Fill at least the first 2 hours of your day with things that bring you joy such as a hot shower, a workout, a good breakfast, a warm cup of coffee, reading, or anything that keeps you away from the buzz of the world. Maintain the a calm state as long as you can.
- Can spark creativity:
I find that when we start our day with our rituals, I have far more clarity and creativity. It goes back to the first point, but I find that my best ideas come after having a good morning. I also love to use those first few hours to do something creative even if just doodling while I have my smoothie. It always stirs up new ideas and even clarity on a project I am working on at that time.
- Help with self-preservation:
You are your greatest asset no matter if you run a business, work in a major corporation, or studying in college. Without having a healthy self, things will slip in life. By establishing rituals, your physical and mental self will thank you kindly by offering up its best self. It is just so important to be self-aware enough to know what is your best self and what is your worst self. This takes time, but eventually you will know your best self with some tweaking and work and figuring out what works for you.
- Make you more productive:
This was the one that shocked me. When we first started trying to establish morning rituals, I felt so anxious because I wasn’t connecting to the social world and email first thing int he morning. I was worried I was missing something all the time. Mike felt that way especially with email and our clients. The truth is there is nothing that is sitting in your inbox (unless you are a doctor) that will mean life or death. You should never feel controlled by your inbox or social media enough that you compromise your well-being. I realized I was addicted to being “in it” more than I was about solving real issues or “getting ahead.” In fact, by taking time for ourselves in the morning, having a set to-do list each day, and focusing our day intentionally we would accomplish FAR more than we had previously. We also were much busier than we needed to be, which after about six months or so I realized how much I was “working” more than I needed to. It helped me step away and prioritize what was worth me focusing on and what wasn’t. Having a small amount of time to reflect and think about the day ahead before beginning can bring a lot of clarity.
We have taken a lot of small steps over a year and a half or so to find morning rituals that work for us. They aren’t crazy or outrageous, but they have made a world of difference in our life. I cannot tell you the difference between who I was almost two years ago to who I am now. Those two people are worlds apart when it comes to productivity, clarity, and quality of my ability to execute creative ideas. There have been many changes and things that have played into that, but the most important one has been our mornings. So here is our routine from 7 AM – 11 AM:
- Make the bed
- Stay away from a screen
- Make a healthy breakfast (usually the same thing each day other than on the weekends we sometimes break)
- Sit and do something creative
- Listen to music or NPR
- Stay away from email
- Start our day in the studio by doing our most creative tasks (developing new ideas for blog stories, shooting something for the blog, etc.)
- Finally, finish the morning with a workout
What this series of things does is help us get the most out of our morning mentally without our most precious brain power of the day become wasted on answering all of our emails, taking calls, going to meetings, and the list goes on. We use the workout to reward ourselves for completing a major creative task and then head into to finish the itemized list of other tasks that day after getting cleaned up and refueled.
Though this list isn’t insane, each one of these things plays an important piece in creating space where our best work can be cultivated and have space to come to life. Each one of these things brings calm, comfort, and joy into our morning in some way.
Discovering these things for yourself could be very easy, or it could be hard, but either way we highly suggest making it a priority especially as entrepreneurs and even more so if you work with your spouse or significant other. Having a routine either together or separate that gives you a healthy start to your day emotionally, physically, and mentally will make a difference.
I would love to hear from any of you about morning rituals. Do any of you do something similar? What do you think about this idea?