The most productive days I have ever had in my life all started with a morning routine. I am not a productive person by nature. I have dealt with stress and various forms of anxiety my entire life.
As I got older, I naturally took on more responsibility. These additional responsibilities made it much harder for me to continue juggling all of my duties. I wasn't making time for myself. I wasn’t giving myself space to breathe. I was falling apart.
I needed a system and did not yet know it, but I did know I was not handling life the way a professional would. So I started looking for a solution, for anything that could reign in my life again and help make it manageable.
The answer came in the form of a structured morning routine, done every single day.
My morning routine leaves me energized, refreshed, and eager to take on the day. Not only did my overall productivity increase, but my general well-being drastically improved after just the first day. Getting up and going through a routine that I controlled allowed me to completely shake off daily stress and start each day on terms that I defined. It’s become the one time I allocate towards myself, every day, no matter what. It keeps me sane and positive in every light.
Curious how this could work for you? Well, read on, my friend!
There are only two parts of your day you can control
The start of your day and the end of your day, are the only parts of your day you have total control over. You can try to plan the middle parts of your day, but let's be honest, how often do your projects and tasks unfold the way you 'planned' them?
Sometimes your boss will drop off a brand new assignment due in the morning, making you miss dinner with your family. Other times your cat Fluffy will get sick, and ruin your plans for the day.
The point is, life is wild and uncontrollable, so don’t count on being able to tame it throughout the day.
What you CAN do, though, is control your amount of sleep, when you wake up, and how you wake up in the morning.
A morning routine is so powerful because we can set the tone for each and every day.
How coffee fits into all of this
Most of us, including myself, begin our day with coffee. I’ve started exclusively hand grinding and manually brewing my coffee for one very specific reason: Because it takes longer for me to grind and enjoy coffee this way.
This might seem counterintuitive in nature, but engaging in a practice that keeps my hands busy and mind occupied is a way of forcing myself to appreciate the process. In this period of mandatory downtime, my hands are too busy to text, and I'm too occupied to think. It’s a meditative practice, one that allows me to step away from life's responsibilities and process problems in a healthy and much-needed manner.
How do you infuse Zen into your morning? Here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Start with small wins. The first thing I do every morning is make my bed. By getting something so simple finished first thing in the morning, it gives me the momentum I need to tackle more complex tasks throughout the day. And if your day doesn’t turn out as planned, you come home to a made bed. It’s a win-win activity that takes very little effort each day. Taking the trash out, decluttering mail, sorting laundry, or anything that takes less than 5 minutes will work wonders as well.
Do a set of pushups when you get out of bed. Go for a light jog before you grab your morning shower. Exercise is vital to both mental and physical health. Our bodies are designed for movement, so you will never reach your optimum state until you get into the habit of sweating every day. This is especially relevant in the morning because you get your blood pumping all over your body, including your brain, which will improve your focus and motivation.
Visualize what you want
Michael Phelps visualizes himself winning the race before he jumps into the pool each time he swims. Every single race that Phelps has swum, he has already imagined himself winning. Visualization of what you want is a powerful tool to prepare your mind to go for what it wants. Often times, we find ourselves spending so much time focusing on what we can’t do instead of ways to make the most of the things in our control. Start your mornings by envisioning an incredible day for yourself.
Silence, prayer, gratitude
Take time in the morning to sit in silence and engage in practices that encourage peaceful thoughts. My morning silence comes in the form of grinding my coffee beans as I prep my french press for my morning brew. With life running a thousand miles per hour, my coffee rituals force me to slow down and appreciate the moment. It has become one of the most important parts of my morning.
Spend time doing something you love
I love everything about brewing delicious coffee and making myself a special cup using my french press that takes precision each morning is the best thing I can do for myself. Do you enjoy spending time with your kids or cooking a healthy breakfast? Don't think twice. Starting your day doing things you love is important, so give yourself the permission to be happy. If you're not there for yourself, you can't be there for anyone else.
Read, Journal, Write, Scribe.
Read 15 pages of something positive. Clear your head of scrambled thoughts by writing them down. I take a few moments each morning to jot down three things I'm grateful for before sitting down to plan my day because it reminds me to stop worrying about the little things. You can also start your mornings by writing down your goals and the things you want to accomplish for the day so that you prepare your mind for work it will do.
You don't need to have all the answers, just ones for the questions right in front of you. Take it slow and one day at a time. These are actions you can take anywhere, allowing you to start your mornings on the right foot consistently.
I suggest this routine as a morning framework and adapting it to fit your passions. For me, making a mug of french press coffee with freshly roasted beans is the cornerstone of a balanced morning. What gets you in your groove?
Have fun with this and remember, you're not in a race. This process is something special for you to perfect on your own schedule and implement at your own pace. Have fun and if you've got questions, comment below!
Chief Brewing Officer
JavaPresse Coffee Company