I’ve always been a morning person. I wake up early, and when I say I wake, I mean I’m awake, like within 2 minutes. I don’t struggle with waking up, nope, that’s not the problem. What I struggle with is my morning routine.
And I know, without a doubt, that if I can make my morning routine more focused on principles that will set me up for a day of success, then I know that everything else going on in my life right now will swiftly follow suit.
But, how do you create a morning routine? And what elements make it successful?
That’s what I set about to find out and below, I’m going to share with you my findings and how I’m working on changing my morning routine, because as I mentioned above—it’s not just about getting up early—it’s what you do with those first few hours that makes the difference.
Having a successful side hustle often comes down to how many hours you have available to you and what you spend those hours focusing on. Imagine what a difference it would make in both your normal day job and your side hustle if you were able to set your day up for success, no matter how you were feeling the night before?
A Bit of Backstory
When I first started my side hustle, I was working full-time in a job I didn’t really enjoy, but it was paying the bills, ya know?
I used to get to work for 7am, because I loved being in the office with no-one around, tackling emails and dealing with enquiries that could easily take me 2-3 hours to deal with once everyone was in the office… for some reason, people just love to stop by your desk as they come into work for a quick catch up…
Anyway, so that’s how my day would start, I’d be up at 6am, and at work by 7am… it didn’t really leave a lot of room for doing in side hustle work.
Then I decided I’d get up at 5:30am and try and get in half an hour of side hustle stuff before getting ready for work. Again, this didn’t really work well either. I’d actually be annoyed about having to get ready for work (but that’s a whole other story) and want to continue working on my side hustle.
Fast forward to going full-time in my side business and not a lot has changed in my morning routine. Sure, I’d get up at 5:30am, but instead of doing things to set my day up for success, do you know what I was doing instead?
Checking emails! I’m pretty sure that’s a cardinal sin somewhere…
Checking emails does not set you up for a great start to the day, particularly if you’re managing three email accounts like I am!
Obviously, something needed to change, but I wasn’t really sure what. I started off by reading The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, and if you haven’t read this, then you should check it out.
But even though I read that, nothing was really sticking.
Now we’re in the present and I’m implementing the following strategies and habits to set my morning up for success. You can do the same by researching and trying some of these ideas out for yourself.
And please, don’t BS me with saying, “but I’m not a morning person!” If you want to be successful, you’ll learn how to create a morning routine. No successful entrepreneur or business person has ever said, “oh yeah, my success is totally down to getting up at 10am and working a few hours here and there.”
Find me someone that attributes their success to NOT having a morning routine at some point, and I’ll eat my words…
Need proof? Here you go:
- Sir Richard Branson's morning routine
- Tony Robbins' morning routine
- Arianna Huffington's morning routine
- Morning routine of 10 successful women
- Chris Winfield on Morning Routines
Really, what more can I say? A morning routine that sets your day up for success can only lead to more success. And I’m certainly up for that!
#1: Wake Up Early
Honestly, you can’t get away from this one. The whole point of a morning routine is to start your day off right, and if you’re ‘normal’ work day is kicking off at 7am, then getting up at 5am is the aim.
If you’re not a morning person, then try doing this is small increments. For the next 7 days, set your alarm clock 10 minutes earlier than you when you normally get up. This will help create the habit.
With those extra 10 minutes each day, check out some of the ideas below and implement one or two to kick things off.
For me, I’m getting up at 5:30am during the week, and 7am on the weekends.
#2: Positive Affirmations
Before I even step foot out of the bed, I whisper, “You are awesome Lise Cartwright and today is your day!”
I have to whisper it because my hubby is not a morning person (well, he chooses not to be ;-)) and I know better than to wake him up at that time of the morning, hehe.
You don’t have to do this for yourself, instead, what you could do is write down some positive affirmations in a journal, just make sure they are positive affirmations about YOU.
A morning routine is about you, no-one else.
#3: Bathroom Stuff
I head to the bathroom, brush my teeth, splash cold water on my face and do whatever else needs doing in the bathroom 🙂
I also write a few inspirational messages on a post-it note and put that on the bathroom mirror, a few for me and a few for my hubby.
I kick-start my body with a glass of room temperature water with some lemon in it. This wakes up my metabolism and lets my body know that it’s time to wake up.
Depending on what day of the week it is, I’ll either take 5 minutes to do some light stretching, followed by a 15 minute walk, or I’ll do 5 minutes of stretching and then a 15 minute HIIT routine.
Yoga is also something I’m looking at trying and am going to incorporate that into my weekend routines, because I want to remain flexible as I get older…
Mediation can be hard, but the point is to try and keep doing it, because practice makes it easier and the more you do it, the easier it will be to implement this into your routine.
I use an app called Calm, (also available in your browser) and they have a great 7-day introduction guided meditation that most of you will enjoy. It’s for 10 minutes and is perfect for beginners.
I’ve just finished my first seven days and while I wouldn’t say my mind is overly quiet yet, I do feel a lot more grounded and not so scattered before getting into work.
The benefits of meditation are plenty, with some of the main highlights being:
- Reduces stress
- Reduces ageing
- Helps you feel more connected
- Improves brain functions
- Improves your sleep
Give it a try and see how you go. The key is to just sit and allow your thoughts to float by. It is amazing how much our mind chatters when we allow it to.
#7: Morning Pages
Once I’ve finished with meditation, I’ll then sit down and write my Morning Pages. These are three pages of free-form writing, ie, they have no structure. They are just a way to get everything that I’m thinking about out of my head and onto paper.
These are not meant for anyone else’s eyes and are meant to “provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.”
It’s important to note that these three pages are written by hand, not typed out. The physicality of writing helps your mind to focus, at least that’s what I’ve found.
But don’t just take my word for it. There are so many others that swear by this too:
- Tim Ferriss of 4-hour Workweek, 4-hour Body etc
- Jennifer Blanchard of Better Writing Habits
- Stephen P Smith post on Create Write Now
- Iain Broome on Morning Pages
- The Write Life
- Edwin Soriano on Morning Pages
It’s a great way to clear your mind before starting your work, and helps you to get any negative thoughts out as well.
#8: Self Journal
I’ve talked about the Self Journal before and how much I love this concept. I’ll sit down and write down three things that I’m grateful for. Then I’ll plan out my day, starting with my most important task at the top.
I’ll write down my three goals for the day and then get stuck into work…
By this time, it’s about 7:30am. Time to grab some coffee and get stuck into work.
I admit that at about this point, I’ll skim through all of my emails, just in case there is something I’m waiting on. But all I do is skim, I won’t respond to any.
I’ll set my [email protected] app for 60 minutes and work on my most important task, then I’ll take a break and grab another hot drink, probably a Chai Latte!
I tend to schedule the rest of my day into batches of focused work, generally made up of 2-3 hour blocks. I also have days dedicated to specific tasks, which looks like this:
- Monday's: Blog Posts for Hustle & Groove
- Tuesday's: Client Work
- Wednesday's: Promotion
- Thursday's: Guest Blog Posts + Social Media Scheduling
- Friday's: Newsletters (1/2 day)
- Saturday Mornings: Reading + Learning
I tend not to work more than 6 hours a day, because that’s how I work best, any longer than that, and I start to fade and creativity falls.
Creating your own morning routine is a personal thing, something you’ll need to try out a few times to find the right mix.
A great article that will help you build your own morning routine that’s unique to you is one by Steve Corona. Check it out and start your own morning routine tomorrow.