“If you don’t run your day, the day runs you.” –Jim Rohn
Two weeks ago, I started doing the Tim Ferriss Morning Routine. After completing the challenge, my biggest learning has been to take greater responsibility for my time.
How it’s structured
- Get up early in the morning, before 7 am ideally, and get out of your bed within 2 minutes of the alarm going off
- Make your bed and immediately meditate for 15 minutes or more
- Get into a cold shower and wake your body up
- Have green tea (or 2 cups of water if you’re like me and don’t have green tea)
- Start with a 3-part journaling routine known as Morning Pages by Julia Cameron. It goes something like this:
- Step 1: Write down everything that’s going on in your mind. Any questions, any ideas, any complaints… Whatever is going on in your mind, just write it down. This will clear your mind and help you get on with the rest of the day. Tim Ferriss calls this, the monkey-mind journal because it drains the brain’s monkey-mind energy before it has a chance to interfere with any other thoughts or actions.
- Step 2: Write down 3 things that you are grateful for, 3 affirmations for the day, and 3 things that would make you happy if you got them done today. Think of this like a way to track your days and have a heightened awareness about the important elements of your life.
- Step 3: Write down, in bullet points, what your schedule for the day looks like. This is called bullet journaling, and helps you visualize how you’re planning to spend your day.
The routine is built on doing all the steps in quick succession. On average, it took me 45 minutes to go through the whole thing.
You will be wide awake by the end of it. The momentum of overcoming your laziness or your urge not to meditate will keep you energized once you start swiftly completing the tasks.
I did this routine for 7 days, and a few things about me changed:
- I started sleeping on time: Forcing myself to get up at the same time every day turned out to be a great forcing function for going to bed on time. The urge to stay up late working / reading dissipates when you know you have to get up early the next day.
- I am getting work done: The momentum of getting things done in the morning helped me get through some annoying items on my to-do list (like doing taxes).
- I am meditating regularly: This is the biggest benefit IMO. I’ve started enjoying meditation. It is the time of the day that I get to be with myself. I’ve even started to use a mantra (like chanting OM 100 times or the Gayatri Mantra) on the days I feel down. I’m able to talk to my monkey-mind, and discuss things with myself. I’ll probably write an article later about how I meditate and link it here.
Stuff I learned
Apart from changes to my lifestyle, I also learned a few things about myself while I was on this routine such as:
- When self-discipline fails you, get momentum into your life: When your personal life is not in a state of momentum, do not trust it. When I started this routine, I was in a rut. I wasn’t productive, wasn’t exercising, wasn’t eating healthy food. This is what I’d call a zero-momentum state. When, by default, you’re not progressing. You’ll watch youtube videos on productivity, but still stay in bed. It is uninspiring to be in this state. If you want to change your life, start doing things to get your momentum going. Don’t trust your emotions, just get momentum back into your life. If you’re feeling lazy, do the opposite – go for a run. If you’re only playing video games, do a dopamine detox for a day, or read a book. Trusting your brain when you are in a zero momentum state is a bad idea. Once you get going it’s much easier to keep going. Trusting your routine (like I did with this one), can save you from wasting away in the zero momentum state.
- Sleep affects every aspect of life: If you’re waking up early and at the same time everyday, the most important thing you need to make sure of is getting 7 hours of rest every night. The productivity gains from burning the candle at both ends are an illusion, because the next day is going to be sluggish. You know this. It easier to sleep on time when you’re having momentum, but if you’re in a zero momentum state you need to build exercise into your routine. It’s much easier for my brain to fall asleep when my legs are sore from running 3 kilometers. Rather than attempting to force yourself to fall asleep (ha!), build it into your routines so you’re naturally sleepy at night.
- Ending each day with an intent for the next day: I’ve found that my days are better when I know exactly what I want to do the moment I’m awake. I don’t want to spend my morning coming up with ideas about how I want to use my time. So every night, I’ll meditate or journal my intentions for the next day. I’m also able to make sure I’m waking up excited to get started, as well as tie a bow by ending the previous day on a reflective note. If you’re new to meditation, then it will require discipline and self control in the beginning, but once you build it into your routines, it’s something to look forward to.
After my 7 day routine, I must admit I was in a much better place than I was before I started it. I’d moved away from my zero momentum state. Although not all the things in the routine will continue to be a part of my morning, here are the things that will:
- Meditating for at least 10 minutes
- Waking up early, and at the same time everyday
- Keeping the momentum going
It is super easy to skip waking up on time, or skip a meditation, but every time I do, it’s almost like I can sense the malaise starting to creep back into my life. These 3 things help me keep that momentum going, and that’s the most important thing this routine taught me.
If you’re feeling lazy or your days are blurry. If you want to get stuff done, but haven’t been able to get yourself to do them. If you’re in a zero momentum state, then try this routine and see how you feel. Each aspect of it is tailored to help you get momentum back into you. You will be getting stuff done, you will be satisfied (meditation and journaling), you will be able to exercise stronger self control. All you have to do is start.
Although there are off days when I worked late into the night or ended up missing my journaling because an important email came through, I tried to make up for it during the day with 20 minute naps to regain lost sleep, or journaling towards the end of the day. These days taught me how important it was to not miss sleep, and to wake up before the world starts so I have time to myself.