The importance of a deliberate morning routine
This is the second post in a series this month on ‘Getting your house in order'.
You can read the first one here on how to secure your family's financial future.
It's 4 months into the new decade and the whole world is literally under lock down.
I thought this was an important series as we all have a rare opportunity – More time than ever before.
Today I did a Facebook Live to share one of my top personal success secrets – Waking up early.
I have been doing 4.30 a.m. starts since my days at University and it is one of my secret sauces for productivity.
This is an important topic to consider getting in order now.
In fact, see it as prepaying your time, talent and skills for when life starts to return to a new normal.
It is one thing you can control in this very uncertain time.
Why not take up the challenge of getting your house in order in this area?
The Importance of a Deliberate Morning Routine
“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” – Paul J. Meyer
I totally agree with this quote.
Do you have good intentions to get certain things done in the day but never quite manage to?
Before I discovered the secret to waking up early, my day would typically start like this:
I'd just about wake up from my sleep in the morning at 6.45 am.
Snooze my multiple alarms a few times, cuddle up in my duvet and begrudgingly go and have a shower.
Then I would race through ironing; miss train 1 and 2 and usually on the verge of missing train 3.
I'd catch train 3 usually hot and bothered and then I'd have another little nap.
On a good day, I might plan my day on that train journey.
Day after day, this was the norm and seemed like the thing to do.
After all, there were usually other people running for train 3 just like me.
Although life has improved somewhat since the above, I have to admit it isn't perfect just yet.
I now have a routine with a trick up its sleeves, which has been doing something magical for my life.
My (almost) Daily Routine
It goes like this on a normal day and I fine tune it daily:
4.30 am: Arise with a prayer 🙏🏽
I've written previously that this is as important as oxygen to us.
We're deliberate about making sure that this is the first thing we do. It forms a part of our ‘sacred hour'.
4.40 am: Read curated devotional content with a cuppa ☕️
This helps us clear our minds and reminds us of why the day exists and its significance.
5.30 am: We power up our computers.
Usually before this, I review my scribbled notes on my iPad and make a note of any early morning thoughts from my reading.
We get to work and not a word is spoken between us as we power through 2 sessions (45 mins each). Then at the interval, we have a brief chat.
We like to listen to music when we work.
Usually film compositions. This offers a good balance of diverse styles and good energy. Sometimes, we do Gospel music by Hillsong.
7.00 a.m: Freshen up, etc. Pre-crisis, I'd be leaving home at this time. Our boys would also have been up already.
However, with working from home, they now get more time in bed. Life really feels heck of a lot more relaxed.
7.30 a.m: Exercise 🤸🏽♂️. I've been running a few times a week and also cycling.
8.00 a.m: Our little boys' alarm goes off.
In the pre-crisis world, they'd typically wake up grumpy.
Now, they wake up happier and typically start by building lego.
We talk to them about the day ahead and what to expect. Mary usually does a schedule on the kitchen whiteboard.
It's usually a combo of homeschooling, play in the garden, bike riding, reading and drawing, etc.
In this slot, we all have breakfast and get ready for what is usually a pretty full on day!
9.30 a.m: The day begins officially. No email or Social Media happens before this time.
We then take turns to manage our kids whilst we work in between. No small challenge 😅
With the above routine, I am pumped up and set to take on the world and any challenges it presents.
Now here's the really interesting bit about all this and why it works:
To succeed tomorrow, you have to begin by winning tomorrow today.
Although our routine is unique to our family situation, this next bit could be helpful to your life too.
What you don't see in the above is that at 9.45 p.m. every night, we sit and write down our expected morning routine.
And I mean the actual activity that will happen in the morning.
So that when we wake up we are not planning but instead executing.
This is so important because I work with my wife as a team.
I rely on her for many things and vice versa. This planning helps us row in the same direction and in sync.
Some of you who are married might relate to this especially if you have children. There is hardly ever time left to spend together.
This window early in the morning when we hang out and hustle together actually brings us closer and builds our relationship 😊.
The things we write down are:
- The DB3 aka Daily Big 3 – These are usually super specific e.g. “finish blog post on productivity” or “complete questionnaire for new Dream Makers”, etc
- The desired start and end time of the morning routine. Then when we later compare that to the actual start time and end time.
- One thing we are grateful for.
If you're interested in doing this for yourself, check out The Productivity Planner.
Importance of a Deliberate Morning Routine
Having covered quite a few of the points above, below is a summary of other reasons why it's important to have a deliberate morning routine:
1. You're winning before most are awake
Nothing beats knowing that you have put in a ton of work potentially even before most people you know are awake.
I'd recommend not just having a morning routine but actually starting the day earlier.
This forces you to go to bed in time and keeps you efficient with your time.
Related post: The Secret Sauce for Winning
2. A routine helps you focus and master productivity
You get to decide every night what your morning routine will be, and this is a way of keeping yourself accountable and giving you laser-like focus.
The more you repeat this process daily, the more you start to aim for peak performance in each of your morning sessions.
Speaking of accountability, here are some of the Dream Makers of Our Membership Programme keeping each other accountable during our 5 a.m. daily challenge today.
We started a virtual co-working space:
I'm super proud of this bunch. There is something super spiritual about doing something together 😊
3. Build on something you're passionate about daily
So many people want to start a business or a side hustle but usually, don't have the time.
The early morning is an amazing time to do this as the world is quiet.
This way even if your day job turns out to be a disaster, then you have already invested some time in your own stuff.
- 27 Legit Ideas On How To Make Money Online
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4. It is another way of paying yourself first
Would you rather check your work emails when you wake up or commit that time to other things that matter to you?
Your mornings are precious and your brain is at peak performance.
Therefore, I'd definitely recommend using this time to do your best work.
2 hours each day for a year adds up very quickly. In fact, it works out to be 730 hours in a year or the equivalent of 30 (24 hour days) of work.
What I've found is that those daily hours then start to compound over time as they build on top of each other.
In addition to this, you'll have a developed a powerful habit, which becomes a part of your internal culture.
Getting your time management right is an important part of getting your house in order.
Like a domino effect, it has important knock on effects that help you feel and see progress daily.
Choose to own your morning and see your productivity sky-rocket!
Video to Watch Next>>
See how I use Calendar Blocking to schedule the week and improve productivity further:
What does your morning routine look like now in this current time?
Do please share this post if you found it useful, and remember, in all things be thankful and Seek Joy.
Great post, Ken. Love how you and Mary start your day together but 4:30am? Crazy! I just can’t get myself up earlier than the kids especially when it’s still dark outside. How do you maintain energy to then do your day job and then return home with kids to look after?
Ken Okoroafor says
Hey Ros! We aim to start together but the odd day like today, we didn’t. Usually, if we are in sync from the night before (i.e. go to bed at the same time etc), then it works. I’d say it does work 4/5 times… 4.30am is a carryover from my uni days… And is what seems to work for us as a family. Using the 80/20 rule, I’d say this slot in the morning is the 20% and really has a massive impact on the day’s outcome. With kids, it’s like brushing your teeth… I just get on with it ;). Could do with a nanny though as some of friends have.
Hi Ken, I listened to the PopUp livestream yesterday and just wanted to stop by and say I really enjoyed it and I’ve signed up to your blogging course. I admire how you use visuals like infographics on The Humble Penny. I’ve been trying to do the same on my new blog and am looking forward to learning lots from you.
I’ve also always been an early riser, although not as early as you! During lockdown, I typically wake up and practice my Spanish, then get up, have a nutritious breakfast, prepare all of my lessons and get right into either online teaching or writing, whatever’s on the schedule that day.
The Humble Penny says
Great to have you stop by and even better to hear you’re an early riser too! 😀
Do let me know if I can be of any more help to you.
Hi Ken, really great insights. I’m really interested to know what time you go to bed and how many hours of sleep do you typically get in a day. Thanks!
The Humble Penny says
Hi Faith, thank you :). I sleep typically at 10pm during the week and aim for between 6 and 8 hours sleep.