You know how it goes … you wake up and reach for your phone … you wander around the house drinking coffee while you surf Facebook becoming increasingly agitated.
You check your email and it’s a disaster … unfinished business from yesterday, more went wrong overnight.
You vaguely remember eating some cereal.
Now it’s time to get something done and your attitude and mood is garbage. And that’s just the start of the day.
There’s a better way. There’s a way to start the day that will have you energized, focused, and content as you get to work. It’s the concept of a personal morning routine designed as a habit that helps you get your day started right.
“Routines are powerful when they become rituals that no longer require conscious thought and willpower. Without iteration, however, they can become stale and can be hard to keep up.” – Joel Gascoigne
Brad and Minette are both working to improve their morning routines as a way to be more productive during the day. They share what’s working, what’s not working, and some ideas that will help you create one of your own.
IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL LEARN:
- that some of your morning routine can actually start the night before
- different things you can add to a morning routine like meditation, visualization, journaling, exercise, gratitude, and more
- how morning routines need to be treated like any other good habit
You can also subscribe to this podcast on our Youtube channel.
Brad: I don’t know. Chief happiness officer?
Minette: Chief Happiness Officer?
Brad: Chief Planning Officer.
Minette: Anyway, we’re the founders of the Path to Profit Academy where we teach creative business owners just like you how to work smarter not harder, and to build profitable businesses, because at the end of the day if you’re not making a profit, it’s really hard to stay productive and keep the momentum going and do all the things required to build a really successful business.
And today we’re talking about-
Brad: Habits and routines and it’s all about productivity here. Is your morning routine setting you up for success?
Minette: And we’re gonna have a pretty-
Brad: And it’s the morning right now.
Minette: And we’re going to have a pretty honest talk about this because I think that we can say our morning routine hasn’t been working for us because we haven’t been working our morning routine lately.
Brad: That’s the truth. I did start doing morning reading, so that’s helping, but I still really haven’t gotten anything nailed down and I was talking to you earlier about … For me it’s a little bit of a struggle and of course like everything, I overanalyze it and then don’t do anything, but I struggle between going and getting my workout done and setting up all of the morning routine type of stuff like meditation and making the bed and all of those great things and the fact that I’m most productive in the mornings early.
I think I got into that habit, well probably even before our kids were born, but I’m a morning person, like a 5:00, 5:30 AM type of guy and I can pretty much hit the ground running in terms of doing things. Doing work things. And so I’m never quite sure whether I should be dedicating an hour of my time to that morning routine or whether I should be dedicating an hour of my best productive time to just working. So anyways, that’s kind of where I am right now.
Minette: That’s kind of where you are. That was a little later in the agenda for the conversation.
Brad: That’s all right. I’m diving in.
Minette: You dove right in because we feel like we … We came back from two weeks of vacation. Well, it wasn’t really a vacation. We shared that on last week’s episode and we’ve had a hard time getting our momentum going and so that’s why this whole month on Structure and Flow, we’re going to be looking at different habits. We’re gonna be talking today about morning routines and why they are so helpful. We’re going to be talking about workflow next week. We talked to my friend Shannon Hernandez about confidence and planning and how that can help, and then we’re even going to talk about gamification as a fun way to boost your productivity and to get those habits to stick because I think that’s a part of this conversation, even around morning routines, is how do you get habits to stick?
Minette: And so our quote today is from Joel-
Minette: Gascoigne who says routines are powerful when they become rituals that no longer require conscious thought and willpower. Without iteration however, they can become stale and can be hard to keep up.
And we’ve talked a lot about this idea on Structure and Flow, of how getting to the place where the habits don’t require you to make a conscious decision. Right now, getting up and making a cup of coffee is such a habit. It is not part of my conscious decision making process in the morning, unless it doesn’t happen right away.
Brad: Yeah, you could do that without … It’s all muscle memory, right?
Minette: It’s totally muscle memory.
Brad: Or maybe smell memory.
Minette: So we want to talk a little bit about that, but why are we even talking about morning routines at all? So Brad and I have been on this how do we make our days better kick, this productivity kick, personally for probably the last three or four years. I think always, but more intensely since we started working together, really looking at how can we just make our days happier?
And so we’ve done a ton of reading and research. Books, articles and what we see over and over and over again is that the highest performing people in business, in sports, really across all industries, the one thing that they always have in common is their morning routine.
And the morning routine can vary quite a bit from person to person, but for these individuals, their morning routine is sacred. They don’t allow anything to interrupt or get in the way of their morning routine, even when they’re traveling, and it’s funny because I’ve had a couple of conversations recently with clients and with my friend Molly Mandelberg, who’s been on the show before and is living life in her van right now and traveling and working from all over the United States and realizing that that morning routine is essential, no matter where you are or what it is that you’re doing.
So why is this morning routine time so powerful and so important is because it sets your whole day up for success. Imagine going into your day feeling prepared. Your brain is awake, your body is awake, you’re feeling grateful. You’re clear about what you should be doing that day or dragging your ass to the office, barely getting up in time to brush your teeth and comb your hair.
Brad: Right, right, right. Yeah. Let’s think. So for me, it almost happens the night before.
Minette: You’re jumping ahead again.
Brad: I’m just thinking of you talking about setting yourself up for success that day and I think we can almost do that by with some things that we do the night before, but sorry, my mind went off track there.
Minette: That’s all right.
Brad: The real point here is that we get back to productivity and how this can help us be more productive during our work day or just during our lives, right? And I think without these things, we’re like Minette said, just dragging through the day. We’re sort of more the ball instead of the bat or the we’re the tail instead of the tiger. Is that the way it works?
Where am I going with this?
Minette: I don’t know. But one of the ways-
Brad: Maybe we started recording too early today.
Minette: One of the ways to really set yourself up for success, like Brad said, is to start the night before. And before we dive into the best way to set up your morning routines, we want to talk about some of the examples of habits to include in a morning routine. These are some of the things that have worked for us personally as well as in our research, what we’ve seen suggested by others.
It’s always about figuring out what’s gonna be most appropriate to you. As you guys know, we’re big fans of understanding your own productivity style and building a productivity system that works for you. It’s why we created the unique productivity style quiz that you can take and we’ll share more about that at the end of the show today, but you know, I think right now we always end up talking on the podcast about what it is that we’re working on the most and it’s been challenging and maybe you’ve experienced this as well where your morning routine is going on great, your exercise routine is going along really well and then something happens.
You get sick or you travel for work and you get thrown off that routine and how do you get back on, into the habit of all these things that you know make your day go better and why do we have resistance to slipping back into these healthy habits?
Brad: Yeah, and I guess part of that is just how entrenched the habit is. So for instance, I think everyone would agree that it’s pretty hard for them to get thrown off their habit of brushing their teeth in the morning or in the evening.
Minette: Such a great example.
Brad: I got myself to the point where it’s I don’t want to go to bed if I don’t floss, so I never flossed before in my life and then a number of years back I started in on that habit and now I won’t go to bed unless I floss my teeth, to the point where I’m scrounging around in a cabin looking for dental floss so that I can actually complete that task. That’s the level of habit that’s so entrenched that you can get thrown off of, even if you’re on a trip or, you know, when things get really bad and I think I want to achieve that level with my morning routine, with my meditation, with you know, all of the other types of things that we want to integrate into our lives.
Minette: Yeah, absolutely, and part of why the morning routine matters and I want to say it doesn’t matter how long the routine is. I’ll talk more about that in a little bit. It could be a five minute routine or a two hour routine depending on your work schedule, whether you’re working for yourself or are still working for other people and trying to build that side hustle, which takes a lot of time and energy.
So one of the things to consider, like Brad was saying, is knowing when is your most creative time? If your most creative time is in the morning, you’re probably gonna want to have a short morning routine so that you can get to your desk and your creative space a little bit faster. If you need a little extra time in the morning, a morning routine can be specifically designed to also get you to your desk a little bit faster, a little bit more alert.
But I find that some of the things that work best for us have more to do with visualizing the success of our day and using that morning routine to go into the day from a place of excitement and enthusiasm, as opposed to overwhelm or feeling stuck or just feeling tired.
Brad: So I’m interested … we’ve got a big list of different things that you could or maybe would want to put in your morning routine. And I look at the list and say, “Oh, I want to do all of those things.” And then I’m trying to balance that with, like Minette said, how long have a routine do I want to do in the morning? And I guess the point is that it doesn’t all have to be in the morning. You can have these things scattered throughout the day, but we want to focus just on what gets us off the ground best in the morning.
Minette: And I think that’s such a great point. There’s a difference between habits that are healthy and that set you up for success and your morning routine. So like the flossing your teeth, morning and night is a great example of one thing that takes less than a minute. So if your time is limited in the morning when we share this list with you, looking at what is the one thing on this list that you know is going to make the biggest difference? And it’s so funny because there’s so many analogies between training, between diet, between, you know, meditation.
We’re never going to be the people that tell you go implement 10 new habits all at once. We’re going to be the people that are going to say, do what … Well, I am. I can’t speak for him-
Brad: I would still try.
Minette: [inaudible 00:11:36] But pick one and maybe it’s not even the same one every single day. Maybe they vary. That two days a week, you do one, two days a week, you do another one, two days a week, you do a third one and then you get into a routine and ritual. As creatives, I know one of the things that matters to those of us who do have lots of ideas and dreams and goals is variety is the spice of life. So maybe for you a set routine feels really constricting and painful, so you might look at a selection of habits that you can implement that would set you up for success so that you have, kind of that fun, itemized checklists to choose from. But you don’t have to do all of them every single day.
Brad: Right. Although it may be more difficult to, ingrain those if you’re not doing them every day.
Minette: Yeah, not list of 20. A list of three.
Brad: A regular practice really does mean regular and practice.
Minette: In order for it to become unconscious. You want to share some of the types of habits to include?
Brad: Sure. So I know that you’ve heard a lot of these or you’ve read them in different blog posts.
Minette: So why aren’t you doing them yet, she said to herself.
Brad: Nice comeback. You were saying that to everybody out there.
Minette: No, just you and me.
Brad: Very nice. So some examples include gratitude and if you’re not aware of what that means, it means sitting there with your journal or I guess you could speak it as well and just simply writing out the things that you’re grateful for. Whether it’s the smile you got from your kids or the fact that you have a roof over your head. All sorts of different things. Just anything that you’re grateful for. And I guess we could talk more about what, what that means to people and what that can do for people.
Minette: Yeah. And it’s a great one that can happen at anytime of the day. For me, it’s a lovely bedtime ritual, to lie there in bed and think about three things I’m grateful for that happened during the day. We’ve done it at the dinner table with the kids. “Hey, what’s one thing you’re super grateful for today?” And that can get really silly at the dinner table, but it implements the idea and the practice of teaching our kids to be mindful of all the things that are going right in their life.
Brad: And that’s not something that takes very long.
Brad: You can literally do that in 60 seconds.
Minette: Or well, even less. Even before you roll out of bed in the morning, that as you’re waking up, you implement that habit of pausing. You could type it into your phone, you could do it mentally. Like Brad said, you could do it as part of a meditation practice. Right? There’s so many ways to do these things. None of them take a lot of time. They just take having a trigger to remind you to do them.
Brad: Yeah. And gratitude. I mean, it’s a very powerful, powerful thing. And what are you here for if you’re not enjoying life?
Minette: So one of our episodes, we talked a lot about really when things are tough to look for what’s working. What is going right, when it feels like things like nothing is going right, to focus on what is going right.
Brad: Right. Next one is exercise. We all know what that means. You know, it’s going to be a walk. It’s going to be deep knee bends, it’s going to be yoga, or anything. If you have a set exercise program, if you like the gym, I like the gym, go to the gym, lift weights. Strength is huge. It gives you a lot of confidence in it, you know, but anything that gets your heart rate up and uses your whole body is just fantastic for getting you underway in the day.
Minette: Yeah. Turn on your favorite song and dance around your bedroom by yourself. Right? That’s a great example of just getting your body into motion. For me personally, it’s usually go going for a walk, which tends to be meditation, creative/thinking space and moving my body all wrapped up in one, so I get to tick a couple of things off that list.
Brad: Right. Next one is studying and reading.
Minette: My favorite.
Brad: You can either listen to podcasts, you can read or listen to books, not fiction books. This is about picking up nonfiction. It might be biographies, it might be training, it might be any type of thing, but just not your enjoyment type of reading that, if you’re a reader, like Minette and I are, you know, you spend lots of time reading fiction books. That’s basically like Netflix time and that’s not what this is about. This is about either training or expanding your mind in different ways.
Minette: Completely learning something new. I recently saw online that Warren Buffet reads five hours a day. Bill Gates is famous for his, is it two weeks that he takes every year and reads like 80 books or something insane in a two week period. I’m probably exaggerating the number, but he takes two weeks for reading, studying, and input. And in the research into the morning routine that I did reading, studying and learning, that category was on every single person’s list. Every single person put time into expanding their mind and they weren’t just reading inside their area of expertise. They were expanding their thinking and reading about all different kinds of topics. But like Brad said, it tended to be nonfiction.
Brad: Yeah, definitely. Next one is visualization. We’ve talked about that on a couple of different episodes and I think just a few episodes back, we were talking about vivid vision type of work. Visualization for me as an amateur athlete, as a business owner, it’s huge. It’s a big part of how we set up our minds to reach that vision.
Minette: And again, this could take 30 seconds of just pausing, taking a deep breath and saying here’s how I want my day to go. Or maybe you have a difficult conversation coming up. Visualizing for yourself what’s the best possible outcome of that conversation or you’ve got a bunch of sales calls to make, what’s the best possible outcome?
So it can be something very specific to the day or something more general like weeding your goals out loud every day. This is another one. I think Jim Carrey was really famous for this. So was Jack Canfield, you know, used to carry his, written on an index card in his wallet and he would take it out multiple times per day, not just in the morning, but read over what are your top three goals right now, and these are your big picture goals. They can be your daily goals as well, but what’s your big picture goal?
And that includes the vivid vision that we talked about. Part of the way that you set yourself up for success with visualization and visioning and goal setting is you have to reflect on your goals, like you have to remind yourself and create new paths in your neural pathways. It’s been proven by science that you have to like dig new reps, right? You have to run these same practices and processes over and over and over again in order to convince your mind that it’s safe for you to do this.
Brad: You’ve got it. Journaling. Clearly, it helps to get your mind dumped onto a piece of paper. I can definitely suggest that as a night before activity as well, but it can help you in the morning. You might want to write down your gratitudes that way. You might want to write down what you learned in your reading. All sorts of reasons to put pen to paper and just get some stuff out of your head.
Minette: Yeah. For me, it’s part of what Julia Cameron calls the morning pages. It’s just doing that early morning brain dump to clear the clutter in your head and I find that I usually write more than three pages when I commit to doing morning pages regularly, which has not been part of my practice lately.
I make art in the morning as part of my morning routine. A lot of times, sometimes it’s art that leads to journaling for part of studying or work that I’m doing and sometimes it’s art for art’s sake, as a form of meditation or just a creative jumpstart to my day. So something creative is a great way to start your morning as well.
Brad: What’s next?
Minette: Stating your mantra.
Brad: Okay. What does that mean?
Minette: What does that mean? So a mantra is simply a positive statement. It’s a little bit different than an affirmation. It’s more in alignment with that idea of the vision or doing a visualization. So one of the ones I saw today that I thought was an excellent example was that every conversation I have today creates a transformation, creates a powerful transformation. One of my favorite mantras is I get a new client today, right? When I say that every single day I get more clients because guess what? When I’m conscious of that mantra, then I’m also conscious of the actions I need to take to make it come into fruition.
So it might be I eat nourishing foods that make me feel great and have more energy so I can get through my day. That would be another example of a mantra, but it’s basically a statement that sets you up for success every single day.
And the mantra can change. But I’m a big fan of pick one for 30 days and just stick with it. In fact, it’s part of our profit planning system is that you come up with a mantra for your month. It’s like, this month, I bring in five new clients, or this month I sell three paintings are all great examples of simple mantras. They have a little bit different energy than just a goal and it’s a combination of sort of the practical, the productive and the spiritual, which is kind of our happy place to play in, most of them.
Brad: Yeah. I think you could probably say that the mantra, the goal setting and the visualization or are quite alike.
Minette: And I realized this was in our notes, but I didn’t write it down. You want to talk about meditation?
Brad: Oh, why would anybody want to do that every day? I mean, there’s a million and one reasons to do meditation. You can get away with 10 to 15 minutes a day is going to get you a long way. I like it as a thing in the afternoon or evening to kinda wind down. But it’s a fantastic way to set yourself up for a great day by clearing your mind, getting rid of some of the mental clutter and putting yourself in a great mindset.
Minette: Yeah, absolutely. And as we’ve kind of shown you, a lot of these habits can be combined together. So the meditation, the visualization, even the yoga or going for a walk while meditating. Journaling is a form of meditation. So all these things can be combined into a ritual that makes a lot of sense to you personally, but the underpinning of everything we’re talking about with morning routines is about mindset.
We talk a lot on this show about how important it is to have a positive mindset in order to be productive and what I see get in the way for my clients more than anything else is what’s going on in their head, not what’s going on in their actions that you have to master your mindset first. So the whole point of these morning routines or evening routines, a combination of both is extra powerful. Like, you get bonus points if you have a morning routine and evening routine and you’re actually probably doing better right now with your evening routine of writing and setting your day up for success?
Brad: Yeah, it’s not really stuck yet though. Needs work.
Minette: Needs work. We are a work in progress.
Brad: You’ve got that right.
Minette: We’re committed to this journey with you, right? This is not something that we have mastered at all, that there’s this constant fine tuning and then one of the other most popular aspects of a morning routine that we hear about is drink a glass of water with lemon or a ginger shot or maybe a warm cup of golden milk if you’re a turmeric fan. It’s like, what’s the nutrition that you’re putting in your body the first thing in order to stimulate your digestive system?
Brad: So it’s not like a venti triple shot super wazoo? [inaudible 00:24:01] coffee?
Minette: Yeah. Drink the glass of water first and then a cup of coffee. I mean, that’s one of the things that you’ve implemented over the years is that you get up and have a glass of water before your coffee.
Brad: Always a glass of water first thing. First thing in the morning, nothing else goes into my body for a glass of water, but that’s just normal. You’re dehydrated after your sleep.
Minette: And not me. I go straight to the coffee.
Brad: You know, one thing I might add to this list, and this is for the more daring amongst you, if you really want to get underway, quickly get your mind underway, quickly try a cold shower. It will wake you up. If you’re looking to wake up and get underway.
Minette: I’d rather exercise.
Brad: And get focused. Well, you know, it’s painful a couple of times, but you do get used to it. And it doesn’t have to be very long. You won’t find yourself lingering under the cold water, but it really is effective. You’ll find that you may find God a little faster.
Minette: That’s hilarious. No, thanks. That’s not what I’m choosing to put on my list or in my morning routine. So, but find what works for you. Take the unique productivity style quiz and make sure that you’re creating a morning routine that’s aligned with your productivity style. Actually, each of the productivity styles will benefit from something more physical and active as opposed or something more creative, as opposed to something quiet and sedentary. So pick the one that’s going to work with you.
So the best ways to set yourself up for success are, as Brad said, start the night before. One of my mentors, an amazing woman named Kendall Summerhawk, she would always shut her night down, like she would look at her income for the day and she would literally close her computer and walk away, even though she worked from home. Another one I read said, make sure you clean out your email inbox at the very end of the day so it’s clean the next morning. Close all your browser tabs, Brad, before you end your work for the day. So make a physical act out of shutting down your business, even if you work from home.
At the end of the day, this can also clue your mind into, okay, it’s time to rest or do something different. Like Brad said, journal, make your to do list the night before is a really powerful thing to do. So you start the morning really crystal clear. I loved what Demir Bentley in a Forbes article calls having a preflight checklist. He said pilots and surgeons, heart surgeons have checklists for a reason that they do before they take on their day or an activity or you know, the responsibility for someone’s life or lots of someone’s lives on a plane. So have your preflight checklist. So once you determine what are the most important things for the morning routine, put them on a checklist and have it printed out where you can see it every single day. Check it off, use your bullet journal, if you’re a bullet journaling fan or a printed checklist that you can create in Google Sheets and mark your habits so you can see that you’re being successful with your preflight checklist every single day.
Brad: And then finally, in terms of the best way to set yourself up for success, commit to your routine until it becomes a habit, right? You need to take the decision making out of things and so that this is just muscle memory. You get up and you do this. Don’t get up and look at your email because that sets the tone the wrong way for the day-
Minette: Or your social media.
Brad: Or the news.
Minette: You notice, we didn’t mention pick up your phone at all.
Minette: In this conversation?
Brad: Not to say we’re not doing that. Don’t do as we do, but yeah, commit to that routine. You really need to commit to it. And the best way to do that is adding one small thing at a time and really getting that stuck and you can learn about the best ways to implement habits. There’s anchoring and other things where you can tie it to a reward and all sorts of stuff like that. Do your research on habits, but you really do need to make this stuff stick. And then start adding more.
Minette: And our favorite resource for research on habits is probably the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, which is a phenomenal book about habit loops and how to interrupt your current habit loops and implement new ones. So highly, highly recommended reading.
And as always, we cannot encourage you enough to take the unique productivity style quiz at PathtoProfitAcacdemy.com/UPSQuiz. And while we’re thinking about morning routines, maybe you have something really creative that’s working for you right now and you think might work really well for other creatives. I would encourage you to leave us a review on iTunes and share your ideas about morning routines. We are not the experts. We’re just trying to figure it out as we go and we’d love your feedback. So if you have some great ideas, go over to iTunes or go to our blog and give us some feedback on morning routines that you are finding to be super successful and improve your productivity every day.
Brad: Cool stuff. And in the next episode, episode 117, we are going to be chatting with Shannon Hernandez about marketing productivity and how to become the confident productive expert.
Minette: It’s going to be epic. We’ll see you all next week.