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Ep. 2 — Make your morning routine feel effortless

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It feels great to finally reach a point where my morning routine energizes me and helps me feel excited about the day ahead.

No more tiredness and no more thinking about sleeping more. Also, thanks to my morning routine, which I’ll share with you in a second, I improved the habits that I have during the day. And most importantly, it feels like my mental health problems are not present anymore.

I guess I’ve been trying to create a morning routine for a while now but I’ve finally done it. And I’ve been doing many trials and errors until I got here, which, from my point of view, is key for making the morning routine feel effortless.

If you are in a situation where you find it difficult to wake up, struggle to start your day with energy, or simply would like to focus on yourself before you go to work, then it’s time to get excited!

I’m going to share with you my morning routine and everything I did to get to an effortless morning routine.

How does my morning routine look like?

From Monday to Friday, I’m doing the following:

  • Wake up at 6:45 AM
  • Go to the living room and stop the alarm
  • Go back from the living room to my bed and think about the beauty of being alive while making the bed
  • Go back to the living room and just sit in bed for 5-10 minutes – sometimes I open my phone and check my emails
  • From 7:00 to 8:30 I read
  • From 8:30 to 9:30 I meditate
  • From 9:30 to 10:00 I exercise

And that’s it.

But sometimes there are a few things that I may do differently.

For example, there are days when, before reading, I make myself some tea and have a cold shower. Also, there are days where, instead of exercising, I go for a run and I exercise later that day, when I get some time.

If I have a run in my schedule, I don’t force my body and on that day exercising is optional. Right now, I’m training for a half-marathon and I run on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

On Saturday and Sunday, I don’t have any routine. I just wake up at 8 AM (sometimes later than that) and decide on the spot what I want to do. Sometimes, I don’t exercise or read at all but I may go for a walk or write something.

From now on, I’ll take every activity from my morning routine and explain how I got there.

Waking up at 6:45

I’ve tried to wake up at various hours in the past.

When I started freelancing, more than 10 years ago, I remember I used to wake up at 7 AM and at 7:10 AM I was at my computer, writing.

Last year, I used to wake up at 6 AM. At 6:45 I was at the gym, ran for 30 to 60 minutes, and then went back home to continue my day. I did that for a few months, 3 times/week.

I also had moments where I set my alarm at 7:30 AM, turned it off and then went back to sleep. In that period, after snoozing the alarm, I was sleeping 2-3 more hours. I was going through a lot of changes and I needed more sleep than usual.

What I’m trying to say is that I’ve experienced with the hour I’m starting my day and right now it seems to be 6:45. That’s the sweet spot right now and it’s been like this for almost a month. And it feels so good that I see myself doing it for the whole year.

And there are two things I recommend anyone try if they want to wake up early. But before that, I almost forgot something important: I never stay up late.

I go to sleep at 10:30 PM right now and, even in the past, my usual sleeping time was 11 PM to 11:30 PM. The later it gets, the more difficult it becomes for me to think and function properly.

Alright, let’s move on to two interesting things about waking up early.

1. Don’t take your phone with you in the bedroom

This made a whole lot of difference for me.

I used to go to the bedroom and put myself to sleep, but instead of sleeping I was on Instagram. That made me wake up tired the next day.

I also tried to have the phone with me in the bedroom and not use it, but it didn’t work out. The best thing I can do is to leave the phone in the living room.

This way, I also have to get out of bed in the morning and make a few steps so I can turn off the alarm. This movement is helping me wake up and not fall asleep as soon as I turn off the alarm.

If you can’t afford to put the phone in a different room (not even the bathroom or the kitchen), you could put it inside a backpack, close the backpack and have it in the opposite corner of your room. To wake up and turn off the alarm, you’ll have to get out of bed, and open the backpack.

2. Use the curiosity box

This is something I came up with and I’m really proud of this method.

I used it for about three months after I switched to another way of waking up, but for me it really worked.

Here’s what I did.

First, I made a list of some simple tasks.

The tasks sounded something like 5 sets of 10 pushups, 10 sets of 20 squads, write in a journal something positive about the day before, write in a journal three things I’m grateful for, make some tea and have a cold shower.

After that, I would make sure every task was written on a small piece of paper, fold it, and put it inside the box.

When I woke up, the first thing I did was to open the box and see what is the task that I had to do that morning.

It worked really well because it was creating a state of curiosity around my morning habits and that generated a lot of dopamine. I was waking up really curious and excited about opening the box, pulling a note out, and seeing what I had to do.

If you want to try out this method, I recommend you have more variety when it comes to the tasks you put on your notes.

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Making my bed and thinking about the beauty of being alive

This is something I learned recently and it comes with a lot of positive energy.

After I turn off the alarm, I go back to the bedroom to make my bed. It takes around 1 minutes and it’s all I need to move into a positive state of mind.

What is the beauty of being alive?

It can be many things. For example, yesterday morning I was thinking about how amazing it is to be able to use my legs and walk to the closest store, buy some delicious chocolate, and eat it. It’s beautiful.

And it’s so simple that we usually forget the beauty behind it.

To be able to walk, buy some chocolate, and then taste it for endless minutes. Ah, what a life! What an amazing life!

Next time you buy yourself some chocolate, think about the beauty of being alive.

Reading for 1 hour and 30 minutes

I am dyslexic and reading doesn’t come naturally to me. In fact, in the past I had years with no books read at all simply because reading was draining a lot of energy out of my body.

Since August 2023, I have been reading almost every day and with the new routine, I’m reading 1 hour and 30 minutes every morning, from Monday to Friday.

I got here when I set myself a goal bigger than myself: I want to discover the formula for optimism.

For that, I have a big list of books and research papers to go through. The excitement of discovering the formula for optimism is helping me stay focused on what I read.

There are days when I don’t feel like reading at all and that’s when I read slowly or spend half the reading time organizing my reading notes. But even so, I progressed a lot since I set the goal of discovering the formula for optimism.

Meditating for 1 hour

I have tried many guided meditations and also many techniques that involved some kind of meditation.

A few years ago, my meditation session meant sitting down, closing my eyes, and thinking about one thing and one thing only, with the purpose of breaking it down. It was a good process and it helped me understand myself better, as I was diving deeper into my thoughts.

I tried Trauma Releasing Exercises (that’s what the method is called) and Ho’oponopono. I tried the guided sessions of Coach Shirzad in the Positive Intelligence programs and many other sessions with various apps like Calm or Insight Timer.

All these methods and sessions had their purpose but eventually I moved on.

Right now, I’m meditating using Joe Dispenza’s Meditation sessions. I started in November last year and experienced the sessions called Blessing of the Energy Centers.

They’re great and one session has between 45 minutes and one hour. If you want to try them out, I also recommend watching the Rewired Documentary with Joe Dispenza.

30 minutes of exercising

For such a long time I was in an unhealthy relationship with exercising.

The only kind of sport I’ve enjoyed doing is running and dancing salsa. That’s it.

Therefore, in order to start exercising at home, I had to create myself the easiest routine ever. It goes like this:

  • 6 sets of 10 weight lifting of 5 kilograms with each arm for my biceps
  • 6 sets of 10 weight lifting of 5 kilograms with both arms, above my head, for my triceps
  • 6 sets of 10 weight lifting of 10 kilograms (5 kilograms for each arm), for my chest muscles, while sitting on my back and

That’s it. Only recently I added 2 sets of 10 pushups and 2 sets of 10 squats.

Since I don’t like exercising but I wanted to do something, I had to start really small. I’ll probably keep things as simple as they are right now for the rest of the year.

I’d rather be consistent with doing something small than try to do something that I don’t see myself doing and stop after two weeks. That was my experience with exercises before keeping things simple.

How to make your morning routine feel effortless

You probably think that you have to create a routine and put some activities in a specific order.

I wouldn’t recommend that.

Instead, try to find activities that you want to do or that you enjoy doing, discover their sweet spot, and after that  put them in a certain order and call it your morning routine.

When you look for the sweet spot, it should feel like you are doing something but not at the expense of joy. Whatever you’re doing, create some excitement around it.

If you can only do 5 pushups and 2 minutes of meditation, then start your day like that and be consistent. Eventually, you’ll keep improving it and add more activities to it. But start with something you feel comfortable with and stick to it until it feels natural to do more.

Alright, what I shared with you until now is my routine, the way I got to have this routine in my life, and why it feels effortless.

From now on, I’ll go through some of the things I shared and give you some extra insights.

Let’s start with the curiosity box method

One thing that surprised me about this method is the large amounts of dopamine I get early in the morning. As soon as I wake up and think about opening that box, I become fully awake. It’s like someone forces me to do a cold shower but without the discomfort of a cold shower.

Another thing that I would take into consideration is the energy level I had right waking up. Usually, if I wake up before 8 in the morning, I have no physical energy. To make sure that’s not a problem, in between opening the box and actually doing the task on the note, I would walk around the apartment, prepare some tea, and even have a shower, just so I could move my body.

If you have any questions about this method, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Let’s move on and talk about gratitude

Being grateful has become a big part of my daily life. I feel grateful when I make my bed and think about the beauty of being alive. I also feel grateful right before going to bed.

These are two moments of my day where I intentionally engage with the process of feeling grateful for what I have, who I am, and the experiences I have.

I have days where I get to experience negative moments simply because that’s the nature of the experience and there are many things that are not under my control. Shifting my attention to all the positive things I experience is part of my gratefulness ritual.

In a way, I use gratefulness to positively write my story and not let negative experiences influence it.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the three-hour routine

I understand that not many people have 3 hours available for their morning routine.

Maybe you have one hour or 30 minutes and you feel like that’s not enough to incorporate all the things that you want to do.

The obvious recommendation here is to wake up early. To do that, you also need to go to sleep earlier so you have enough hours of sleep.

But more than that, if I would still want to do all the things I currently do during my morning routine and I would have only 1 hour available, there are two directions I would consider.

First, I would try to understand if there’s something from all the activities that I want to do every single day. In my case, that would be meditation.

Then, I would ask myself if I could compromise and meditate only once every two days and do something else on the second day.

Second, if there’s no activity that is important for me to do every single day, then I would try to spread them over the entire week.

For example, I would meditate on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Then I would lift some weights on Tuesdays and Saturdays. And finally, I would run on Thursdays and Sundays.

This way, I get to do everything I want. I hope this kind of approach gives you some mental clarity.

Another important question is related to traveling. Do I still do my morning routine when I travel?

Not really.

The purpose of my morning routine is to help me have a balanced life and not let my mental health problems take over.

When I travel, I may feel lonely or homesick, but I cope with that pretty well. Usually, it goes away by the end of the day. But I don’t experience my usual mental health problems and it’s probably because I immerse myself in the experience of discovery.

When I travel, I’m really curious about everything around me and, for me, that seems to work as an antidote to mental health problems.

And finally, I want to leave you with what is probably the best insight. But also, the most difficult to put into practice.

If you have a family and you feel like you can’t practice your morning routine because of your life partner or your children, then you have to do one simple but difficult thing: wake up before everyone else.

It could mean waking up at 5 in the morning just so you could have for yourself around two hours.

Yes, sometimes, the price we have to pay for having a morning routine is waking up early in the morning. So early, that it feels painful.

But eventually that paint will go away.

And you know what they say, the pain of being disciplined is easier to bear than the pain of regret.

Suffer through the pain of discipline and your life will transform.

With love and optimism,
David

What did you learn?

What are some valuable things you learned about your morning routine? 

I would love to know what you think, so share your insights with me using the form below.

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