I would like to talk to you about the one tweak that you can make to your morning routine to drastically increase your productivity.
Now, for many years, I considered myself to be a night owl, someone who will stay up really late and gets most of their work done late at night. Whereas the morning lark is someone that wakes up early and likes to get their work done early in the morning. For me, I would get up and I would drink my two or three (or four) cups of coffee. And then, of course, the espresso after that. And maybe a bottle of Coke. I basically lived on caffeine all day long to be able to maintain my energy levels so that I could stay up until 10 p.m., 11 p.m., midnight, or even 1a.m. to get all of the work done. And that worked for me for a very long time.
It worked all the way up until a few years ago when I started to have some health challenges. I actually injured myself and the result was a herniated disc in my neck. I saw my chiropractor. I went to physical therapy because I definitely didn’t want to have surgery on my neck. The chiropractor said that I needed to do some exercises every single day and, If I didn’t do these, I would be in pain pretty much all day, every day. These exercises would take at least an extra half hour each morning — and I absolutely had to do them. Otherwise, I really was in pain the entire day.
I quickly realized that I was going to have to start getting up earlier in the morning so that I would be able to have time to get those exercises done. And, as my morning routine changed and I needed to get more and more done, I noticed that, actually, my morning routine started in the evening. I needed to go to bed earlier because I couldn’t get up early in the morning if I didn’t.
So, right there’s your first lesson: Your morning routine actually starts the night before.
Before my injury and my need to exercise and stretch in the morning, I would hit a wall at 4 p.m. And, when it hit, I would need another cup of coffee or another shot of espresso. When this would happen, my mind started to shut down and, all of a sudden, I wasn’t able to produce as much. After 4 p.m., I had to reserve the afternoon hours for activities in my business that did not require peak mental capacity because, by that time, I was pretty sluggish and definitely not as effective as I normally was.
But, when I started to add my exercise routine to my mornings, I noticed that 4 p.m. would roll around and I actually didn’t need that extra cup of coffee, or that espresso. I was able to actually maintain a higher energy level throughout the day, all the way until 5 p.m., 6 p.m., or 7 p.m., when I would turn off my computer anyways so I could spend time with my family. Now, remember, this exercise wasn’t the type you would necessarily do at a gym. I wasn’t working up a sweat. But, just this low impact exercise in the morning almost immediately helped me to be more productive throughout the day. It’s work to do the exercises in the morning, but that one small tweak has made me so much more productive.
Another benefit of changing my morning routine is that my family started to notice a difference — and they actually wanted in, too. My daughter saw me getting up at 5 a.m. to exercise and asked me if she could exercise with me. Pretty soon it was me and seven kids all exercising at 5am in the morning – every single day!
And you know what? After the initial pain of having to wake up early and adjusting to a new rhythm, I realized that this really is working out — and for everyone. I am much more productive. And I know that you can be too if you give it a try.
I’ve enjoyed the switch so much that I’m now, in fact, getting myself up at 4 a.m. There are moments, of course, the night before where I’m thinking to myself, “Okay. I’m not going to like tomorrow.” But, your body gets used to the new routine and, soon, the alarm going off at 5 a.m. or 4 a.m. no longer seems like a big deal. In fact, sometimes I just wake up on my own, right at 4 a.m. without an alarm clock because now my body is in the habit of getting up at that time.
Even night owls, it turns out, can change. You can retrain yourself and, when you do, that extra time you have in the morning helps you feel refreshed and relaxed. It helps you to get and stay focused because you have time to plan your day before everything gets busy.
But, before you start setting your alarm for 4 a.m. every day, I do want to say one thing. ..
Yes, I have seven kids. Right now, the youngest is ten years old and the oldest one is about to be twenty. I don’t have babies at home or even super young kids. If you do, however, this changes everything. Trying to establish a super consistent morning routine when your kids are below the ages of five, at least, will put too much pressure on yourself and your children. When you have little kids in the house, just go with the flow. You know they’ll be keeping you up at night, or waking you up in the morning, or both. You know you’re going to be exhausted. At these times in your life, you really do just have to fill your work into the times you have available. Enjoy those babies! Relax! And get up when you feel like it.
Your kids will get older and, when they do, you can come back to this chapter and rethink your morning routine. And, if you’re ready to be more productive and your morning routine has the flexibility to be changed, then I seriously suggest adding a little exercise and movement to your mornings. It’s a game changer!