By Kate Duncan
Last month, I was listening to the audiobook High Performance Habits, by best selling author Brendon Burchard. Brendon was talking about daily rituals, and how important a morning routine is for a healthy, happy and productive day.
I was washing the dishes, my headphones on, when Brendon said something that made my hands freeze. I wiped the dish soap from my hands, paused the audio to let it sink in, and immediately went to write down what he’d said.
He said, if you look at your computer, phone or any other device within the first 60 minutes of waking, for more than 7 days in a row, your daily productivity decreases by 30%.
Throughout the book, Brendon often equated productivity with overall happiness. This got me thinking (honestly) about what I do each morning. I reflected that I used to be really good at not looking at my phone between 8pm and 8am, until after I’d finished my morning ritual (meditation, yoga, cup of tea, walk my dog Bobo). Now, as soon as I wake, I let myself be bombarded with emails, messages, and social media scrolls.
You see, I’d started keeping my phone close to me back in winter when I was dating my ex and didn’t want to miss his texts. (i know… I know… I’m only human)! And even though he left my bed many months ago, the phone had somehow managed to stay close.
I look at it as soon as I wake up.
I really hate that.
With conclusive tangible numbers to back up why it feels so yucky, I felt inspired to readjust my morning ritual, including renewing my old commitment of phone free time.
I’ve developed a new habit over the last month and I can tell you, I am feeling so much happier! I wanted to share it with you and encourage you to take a good look at what you do each morning so you can feel happier, and more productive, too.
My morning ritual
Get up, greet my dog Bobo and prepare a pot of chai tea (I brew this myself, and its one of my favourite things to do.
While the chai brews, I feed and then walk my dog Bobo, in which I mindfully observe the sights and sounds and look for all that I am grateful for around my house. This is a conscious effort of gratitude and is very rewarding.
Then, I take my mug of tea to sit in a 30-minute mindfulness meditation. (If I have plenty of time, I often add my basic morning yoga flow with some sun salutations to this period).
Breakfast then a mindful tidy up.
Strategy session: I took this from Brendon Burchard: it's a structured way to begin the day with clarity and purpose. Like Brendon, I choose to make my strategy before emails, texts, or distractions come in. First, I reconnect with my larger goals so I can feel a sense of purpose and clarity as I move forward.
Then I ask, and make lists for the following:
+Who do I need to contact today? What emails need to be sent or calls made? Which need to come first?
+What tasks need to be completed, and in what order? Which are essential to be finished today, and which can be held off if needed?
+What self-care items need to be added? Is a surf wise? A hike? A walk? A yoga class, connection event or meet up with friends?
+What extras can I add if I complete my essential to-do’s?
Once I am ready, the phone comes off aeroplane mode and I sort through the messages, emails etc and update my strategy if required.
I love variety more than anything, so the set up of my day is often very different. Even so, my morning ritual remains the same. Usually, my ritual takes a little over an hour, but I make sure that it is expandable and contractable as needed.
However long it is, I keep each basic element in place:
-connecting to gratitude
-centring my mind and body through my tea-meditation and yoga practice
-nourish my body with breakfast
A morning ritual prevents that sense of overwhelming and scramble that comes from being in a hurry in the morning. Keeping the phone off eliminates the distraction that begins with being sucked into other peoples worlds. Each email, text or call takes us out of our clarity and into what others want from us, instead of what we want from our day.
Most importantly, starting the day with a morning ritual sends a strong message about how we value ourselves and our time. We are letting ourselves know: what I do and who I am is important.
Take some time to create your own morning ritual. Here are my top tips on how to effectively implement your new habits, and bring more happiness and productivity to your day.
Your Morning Ritual
Keep it simple. Start small: if you’ve never done anything like this before, add one thing at a time. Try to avoid over-committing, like saying you’ll do an hour of yoga every day, when that may not be sustainable for you.
Tie your new habit into something you already do, for example, meditate for three minutes before you brush your teeth. Eventually, expand the time to 5 minutes, 10 minute, 15, etc.
Make an out-loud commitment about your phone boundaries. Tell your friends, or find an accountability buddy to do this with you. If you are really worried, there are ways to set your phone to do not disturb where emergency calls can come in. Also, wear a watch and get an old-fashioned alarm clock, that way you can avoid the desire to check the time or use your phone to wake up in the morning
Create your own strategy session document that you can fill out each morning.
Even if your morning ritual is super simple (like taking three big conscious breaths and pulling your knees to your chest while still lying in bed) anything is better than nothing. Even a small effort to start your day with a little more peace and a little more intention can bring a lot more happiness, and productivity, to your day.