Morning routines are for everyone

By Samantha Bradsky | Reporter

4,680 is the number of weeks in a 90-year life.

In an article titled “Your Life in Weeks,” Tim Urban depicts the number in an image: 4,680 unfilled boxes in a grid — a grid that could easily fit on a single screen. I imagined each box, each week, turning red with the passing of time until only one box remained. Most people don’t even live to be 90 years old.

I felt like a spectator to life for a long time. I lacked initiative. My field of expertise was procrastination. Studies show that only 8% of individuals end up accomplishing their life goals. I was terrified of my red boxes and not accomplishing what I wanted before that dreaded final box was filled. I became obsessed with one question: Why do some people “make it,” while the striking majority do not?

I leafed through book after book trying to find that secret “key” that I seemed to be lacking. I came to two realizations. The first thing I realized was that there is no secret key that all the successful elites seem to have access to that the normal individuals do not. The second thing I realized was that, while there might not be a secret key, there is a pattern. Morning routines seemed to be a huge part of that pattern.

Ever since I implemented a morning routine into my life, the results haven’t been magical. I still struggle with a lot of the same things, but they have been increasingly significant. Derived from various books I’ve read within the past year and a multitude of other articles, books and interviews, I’ve constructed a synthesized compilation of some morning rituals that are highly effective.

First, let’s define success. For the purposes of this article, I will be defining a successful person as someone who is highly effective and impactful in whatever area they choose to pursue mastery in. Feel free to adopt your own definition.

Second, there are a plethora of morning rituals out there. Below are just five ideas to mix, match and curate into your own morning routine.

1. Wake up early

According to a study done by author Thomas C. Corley, 50% of self-made millionaires get up three hours before their workday actually starts.

Benjamin Franklin woke up at 5 a.m. David Goggins — the “toughest man in the world” — wakes up between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Former PepsiCo Inc. CEO Indra Nooyi wakes up at 4 a.m. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey wakes up at 5:30 a.m.

2. Wake up at the same time each day

“You need to pick a time to get up,” Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist, said. (As one of my favorite people of all time, he doesn’t need more of an explanation.)

3. Journal

A Chinese proverb said, “When we eat bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them.” You don’t need to eat bamboo sprouts to practice this ideology of regular gratitude. I am a huge fan of gratitude journaling and prayer journaling. Gratitude is a practice, and, according to some, a skill to master.

Other journaling ideas include James Altucher’s “Daily 10,” Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way: Morning Pages Journal” and Tim Ferriss’ practice of writing down three to five things needing attention that make him the most anxious.

4. Meditate

“For the most part, I can’t tell you how important it is to take those first five minutes [of the day] and be thankful for life,” John Paul DeJoria, entrepreneur and philanthropist, said.

If you don’t like to journal your gratitude, you can practice gratitude in meditation, as Tony Robbins does. If that’s not for you, check out this link to my personal favorite: Sam Harris’ 10-minute meditation that draws awareness to breathing.

One highly productive individual who practices meditation is Arianna Huffington — Huffington Post co-founder — who meditates for 20 to 30 minutes every morning. Another is Oprah Winfrey, who meditates for 10 to 20 minutes. You’d be hard-pressed to find a successful individual who doesn’t practice some sort of morning mindfulness.

5. Plan and strategize the day

Famous author Stephen King said, “Don’t wait for the muse … Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine ‘til noon or seven ‘til three.”

Organize a to-do list. Note your priorities, and block off time to complete them. I’ve found timetable blocking and scheduling to be very therapeutic for an expert procrastinator like myself.