I used to be incredibly frustrated at school and at life. I felt like I was working so hard and putting in the hours but I wasn’t getting the results I deserved… Until I built the morning routine that has allowed me to get better grades while freeing up my time for the things I love.
Today, I’m more confident and relaxed about how I handle my schoolwork and, in fact, I’ve never had to pull an all-nighter and I’ve been fortunate to be able to avoid studying after 5 PM and on weekends, while maintaining my 3.8 GPA!
Exactly how did I do it? Read on.
Magazines, books and shows obsess about successful people and their morning routines.
What they have for breakfast, what they do as soon as they open their eyes, down to what clothes they wear!
Table Of Contents
- Why The Hell Are Mornings So Important?
- Why Not Evenings Or Afternoons?
- How Do I Create My Own Morning Routine?
In this post, I’ll be taking these questions apart and really diving deep into the Why’s and a little bit of the How in becoming a morning person and crafting your own winning morning routine.
1. Why Are Mornings Important?
There are several reasons but the simple answer is because a lot of successful people directly attribute their success to great morning routines.
He attributes his incredible success in business and in life to having a solid morning routine of a healthy smoothie, exercise and meditation. He even says that just by having that morning routine, he was able to lose a lot of unwanted weight – unintentionally!
But, delving deeper, effective morning habits do wonders because research has shown that our brain virtually shuts off and uses little-to-no energy when we are doing habits. And since morning routines are really chains of habits, a good morning routine would essentially give you more willpower, focus and brain-power to spend on your day!
A third reason is given by Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit, where he talks about Cornerstone Habits a.k.a. the lead domino that causes all the other dominos to fall.
One Cornerstone Habit he mentioned for people who wanted to lose weight, was keeping track of what they ate. Just to write their food intake down. Interestingly, researchers realized that when people got into the habit of writing down what they ate, they also started making better food choices and exercising more!
Just like food-logging, a morning routine is Cornerstone Habit: Once you get into the habit of waking up with a smile on your face and knowing exactly what you have to do to get ready for the rest of your day, everything else – better productivity, more energy, better decision-making, etc – will fall into place.
This is the power of morning routines.
2. Why Not Evenings And Afternoons?
The answer to the 2nd question is that morning routines, in particular, are important because you have more willpower in the morning, when your mind and your focus are still fresh. Willpower is like a muscle – it gets tired after you use it when you make decisions, for example: what to wear – a button-down versus a T-shirt or what to have for breakfast – a muffin versus a smoothie.
One experiment in The Power of Habit compared 2 groups of people who took the same test. One group was asked to make a series of decisions before they took the test and the other group did not. The group that went into the test with fresh minds did a lot better than the group that had to make decisions before-hand. They were also less easily frustrated when they couldn’t get the right answer after one try and stuck to the problems longer.
This is why we want to focus on morning routines first: Since you have more willpower in the morning, we want to focus on using it effectively and preserving it for as long as possible.
Note: I am NOT saying that afternoons and evenings are not important! I AM saying that mornings are the first domino in a long, long sequence – you need mornings to start off the chain and the others will follow.
From my own experience, it is much easier to have a great afternoon or evening if I start my day off right. In fact, after perfecting my morning routine (or getting as close to perfect as possible) my afternoon and evening routines are next on my list!
(Side note: You can also train your willpower and focus every day to make it stronger. The key is to train it on the right things and not on trivial decisions.)
3. How Do I Create My Own Morning Routine?
Morning routines will vary from person-to-person, but from my research and my own experience, the three biggest factors to creating your own winning morning routine are:
- Clarifying your big 3
- Powering through your first chunk of work
So as you focus on crafting your own routine, focus on these 3 big wins first. Let’s dive deeper.
Too often we don’t take care of ourselves and just work, work, work because this makes us feel productive! But, have you ever heard of the phrase, “Sharpen the Saw”? It was popularized by Stephen Covey from the Abe Lincoln quote:
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
All this means is that you must keep your tools in tip-top shape for you to be able to effectively go about your work. And big part of this means having a good breakfast!
I personally like having a fruit and veggie smoothie with some nuts. You can eat whatever you want but try to have breakfast that is incredible nutritious and will keep you full – hopefully until lunchtime!
Clarifying Your Big 3
How can you be productive if you don’t know exactly what you have to work on?
Your Big 3 are the top 3 most important things you want to get done today. Notice I said important, not urgent. As Marie Forleo, a very successful online entrepreneur says, “Do the important things first… The urgent things will always get done.”
So, how do you know what your Big 3 tasks are?
Ask yourself: Which 3 tasks, if I get them done, would allow me to go to bed tonight with a smile and honestly say, “I had a productive day”?
Write these down.
And to make sure you do urgent work as well, I recommend that you put your hardest, most important work first thing in the morning and your urgent, but less-intensive work in the afternoon. This may need some tweaking on your part to find the right balance of important and urgent, but use this as a starting point!
Powering Through Your First Chunk Of Work
Finally, schedule an hour or two, as soon as possible after you wake up, to knock off one of your Big 3. This is crucial because this allows you to get the productivity ball rolling. Once you get past that first hour of good, productive work, you’ll be more likely to finish everything you have to do for the day.
This is true from my own experience: I shouldn’t open up my laptop and check email/Facebook before I get 1-2 hours of work in because I know that no matter how good my plan is… If I check Facebook, Twitter or email before I get my 1st piece of work done, I will NOT have a productive day.
I know, I know. No matter what I say… You’re probably thinking, “But I’m not a morning person!!” And that’s ok… But that doesn’t mean that you can never be one!
If you’re like most students, the reason why you’re not a morning person is not because your body just isn’t wired for mornings… But because you haven’t set yourself up to have great mornings! We tend to sleep late and get up early so we don’t get enough sleep. No wonder we hate getting up in the morning!
Now, the reason why I’m a morning person is because when I used to be an elite swimmer, I had to wake up at 4:30 AM to get to practice by 5:30 AM. I wasn’t born excited to get up at 4:30 AM – It was drilled and forced into me, day after day after day.
I don’t want to go through that again… But I’m glad I went through that experience because being productive in the morning is probably one of the most important habits that has made me successful in school and in life.
If you need more inspiration (or shame) to start building your morning routine, check out this video of a 77-year-old female bodybuilder who wakes up at 2:30 AM EVERY SINGLE DAY. Bruh, shame! If she can do it, so can we.
A final note: You don’t have to be a successful person today to start doing what successful people are doing. Rather, if you start behaving and building habits that successful people have, you WILL be a success one day. Guaranteed.
So don’t be like everyone else, don’t wait. Start today.
Psst! Just for being a Hack My Study reader, you get instant access to my battle-tested morning routine FOR FREE. Simply:
- Go to roxinekee.com/hackmystudy
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Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you there!