What I Learned After 3 Years Building The “Perfect” Morning Routine
In this article, I’ll talk alittle about my journey setting up a morning routine and then give you the easy framework I used to set my “perfect” routine. Keep in mind, this doesn’t work for everyone but it does for me and I hope it will you. At the very least, the framework will allow you set a base routine that you can build on, over time.
In 2019, I was diagnosed with type 2 Narcolepsy.
It’s chronic sleep disorder which causes excessive daytime sleepiness. Simply put, I finally had a reason as to why I always felt tired no matter what I did. But, it forced me to re-evaluate my daily habits and I’m happy to say that I feel better than I ever have before.
My indian parents still won’t believe it’s a thing and are convinced that it’s being caused because I spend too much time on my phone… haha
Today, I’m able to work a 9 to 5 job with one of the largest tech companies in the world, work on a passion project (Cignature), spend time with family, and live a pretty full life, without constantly feeling tired.
One of the most powerful tools to help was finally creating the “perfect” morning routine.
Here are the three major lessons I learned, that could help you:
1. There’s no such thing as the perfect morning routine for everyone. Just morning routines that work for you.
Early on, I fell into the trap of researching the morning routines of “successful people” and found all the cool instagram-quote-worthy ones like Tony Robbins’ freezing cold-plunge pool. And even the pretty normals ones like Mark Zuckerburg’s early morning exercises.
The problem was that these always felt like I was just fufilling a task for the sake of doing so. These tasks didn’t motivate me to start my day. Instead, they made me feel robotic when I did them and miserable with guilt when I’d quit.
We often make the mistake of looking at “successful” people and assume that the habits are what made them successful. When in reality, it’s often the success that makes some of their habits possible.
Jeff Bezos is famous for using most of his morning to slowly wind up from exercise to breakfast. He takes his first meetings of the day at 10AM. This was not the mentality that led to success when Amazon was a start up. It’s the mentality that is made possible by Amazon being successful enough to function without Bezos around 24/7
So the first lesson to understand is that you can use others as inspiration for your morning routine but your has to be unique to your needs. Tony Robbins’ doesn’t plunge in the cold ice tub because he heard other successful people do it. He does it because it specifically helps him.
Start by asking yourself what the purpose of your morning routine is. Is it to motivate you to start your day? Or is it to get your toughest task out of the way? Or is it just have a nice smooth ramp to the day? Or is it just to be able to have a few small wins in the morning?
The purpose of my morning routines are to give me a smooth ramp into my day and to re-affirm that I control my life.
2. An Easy Place To Start Is By Creating 1 Easy Habit For Each Stage of Waking Up
I’ve found that most people will go through 5 stages as they wake up.
- Break Your Sleep — That moment of shifting from sleep to opening our eyes the first time
- The Get Up — When we finally physically get up from our bed
- Being Half-Awake — When we’re up but disorentied and still aching to get back into bed
- Being Awake — When we finally have our senses and are awake
- Being Active — When we move out of the sleep-centric mindset and start focusing on our day
This won’t be the same for everyone but I think most of you will agree you follow some variation of this.
In setting my first, actually useful morning routine, I started by just setting one simple, easy task to get me through each stage.
- Break Your Sleep > The Get Up — My alarm’s set on the opposite side of my room so that I have to get up to turn it off. I also keep track of how many times I hit snooze and it’s personal challenge to try to get up without even 1 snooze
- Get Up > Half-Awake — Now that I’m up, I go through a series of steps (1) Splash my face from cold to hot water (2) Brush my teeth (3) Make my bed. I find that once I’ve made the bed, it’s easier to walk away from it.
- Half-Awake > Awake — Put on my “walking clothes” aka a Nike or Adidas track suit, walk downstairs, and drink 3 glasses of cold water.
- Awake > Active — Go for a 1 mile walk (not run), during which I listen to the morning WSJ podcast to stay up to date with the financial world.
- By the time I get back from the walk, I feel accomplished, motivated, and (most importantly) in control of my life.
I know this seems really simple and it is. If you’re like me, this is enough to get you to start your day and conquer it. Or, if you need more, atleast this is an easy framework to use as your base. But, make sure to keep the next point in mind!
3. Make a Plan B, C, D,….
Create different variations of your morning routine so that you have options depending on your mood. Let’s be realistic, we’re human and we’re going to wake up every morning with the want to do everything.
On days that I just can’t bring myself to complete the actions above, I atleast refuse to “do nothing”.
Not every day has to be 100%, but no day should be 0%.
Let me know what y’all think in the comments, I’d love to hear any feedback or if this helps!