What do baking powder and chewing gum have in common?
One man had a successful business selling baking powder. In 1892, William Wrigley Jr decided to give his baking powder customers a few sticks of chewing gum along with the purchase. And then something radically shifted with his customers.
The customers wanted the chewing gum more than the baking powder. And so began what would be the most successful chewing gum empire in the world. The customer’s tastes had radically changed from buying baking powder to chewing gum.
In the morning, you too can radically change your routine and begin each day more successfully. You may feel the mornings are tiring, exhausting and unmotivating. However, when you change your morning routine, your body, mind, and soul are empowered. You start the day off right and that translates to success.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at three simple areas of the morning routine that you can easily improve:
Before we begin looking at these three areas, let’s go through a bit of background of morning routines. There’s a lot of confusion out there between a routine or a ritual. Let’s set the record straight.
Even though many people treat morning rituals and routines equality, there is a slight difference between the two – the intent behind our actions.
Typically, a routine is something that we do out of a habit or because we know we have to (or both). It can involve things like meditation, exercise, writing a journal, but also simple things like brushing your teeth and combing your hair.
On the other hand, while a ritual can involve the same tasks, it is our mindset and attitude that make a difference. During a routine, we should focus not just on the goal – getting the things on our morning list done – but even more so on the process.
Despite the difference between a ritual and a routine, I will use both names interchangeably. This is because I believe both approaches can benefit our lives. In the end, we need to have a sound structure of our routine before we can start appreciating the process and turn it into a ritual.
Now that we know there’s no difference let’s continue by taking a look at the benefits of a morning routine.
What’s beautiful about having a morning routine is the fact that you don’t need to spend hours to reap some of its tremendous benefits.
The key is to stay consistent – if you stick with what you plan to do, soon you will be able to improve your life in many different areas:
The health benefits (and many other ones) of a morning routine will depend on what you include in it. But, if you spend just a few minutes focusing on the bright side of life – feeling grateful, writing down things you are good at and that make you happy, you can significantly limit the presence of stress in your life. And it’s no secret that it’s one of the main causes of many modern diseases.
What’s worth noting is the fact that positive thinking can not only decrease stress but also lead to a couple of other great benefits, which include an extended lifespan, increased resistance against common cold and improved overall psychological and physical well-being.
Having a morning ritual, no matter how simple, helps you set the tone for the day.
This is because slowly and mindfully performed tasks help bring your attention and awareness back to what you want to experience.
Such a mindful routine helps you sustain a positive mindset, relax, and provides you with a feeling of clarity. Of course, if you incorporate a to-do list and planning into your morning routine (I’ll get to that), you can strengthen this benefit even more.
A morning ritual that involves an act of gratitude provides you with a much better start of the day compared to stressing out about the upcoming tasks and obligations.
Instead of mindlessly getting straight to the chores, try spending even five minutes focusing on the moment.
Accept that no matter your current circumstances, your life is a fantastic journey and acknowledge everything that’s happening around you during that brief moment. If you do that frequently, you will become more grounded and will find making important decisions much easier. And speaking of decision-making…
Having a routine which makes your mornings enjoyable and that doesn’t force you to spend any energy on making decisions leaves a lot more energy for your brain to make the right choices later on. A series of experiments and studies ran by Psychologist Kathleen Vohs from the University of Minnesota shows that the mere act of making decisions requires “executive resources” (which are limited).
By having a routine which you can perform on “autopilot” and knowing what to do from the very first moment after waking up, you can save that precious energy for when you need to make more meaningful decisions.
Just like with decision-making, we have limited resources responsible for our productivity and willpower.
To avoid exhausting them too fast, you should plan your day wisely – use your morning routine to plan the day, and take a step back to reflect on what’s ahead of you without stressing out about it.
On top of that, you can use the time to evaluate your past performance to see whether your planning is right. If you assign yourself too many tasks for the day and fail to complete them, you will soon lose motivation, what can affect your discipline and productivity.
The list of benefits of morning rituals could go on and on – as I mentioned earlier, it all depends on what you include in the actual routine. For example, if you add exercises, you can not only stay in a much better shape but also help limit the feeling of anxiety, what can be an essential part of a productive day.
And if we add to it that morning people are usually more positive, waking up early and following a routine can be a great way of improving your life as a whole.
So, what are the things which you can include in your routine? Let’s dive right into the different types of morning rituals!
Now that you know the few reasons why you should create your very own morning routine (more to come), it’s time to list the most useful tasks you can include. I’ve decided to separate them into three different categories, targeting your mind, body, and soul. That way you can target different aspects of your life and ensure that you are prepared for the day both mentally and physically.
Mind Rituals – Get Your Mind Ready for the Day
Let’s kick things off with the rituals focused on your mind. Their main goal is to make you more productive and help you realize your potential, as well as help you increase your willpower and perseverance. All of these qualities are essential if you want to build an effective morning routine and stick to it for years to come – not to mention their positive influence on your productivity and achievement potential.
Time needed: 30 minutes but can be done with other routines.
It is estimated that about 80% of all smartphone users check their phone before they even brush their teeth, and 61% do that as early as five minutes after waking up. And yet, constant looking at notifications can increase our stress levels. Not to mention that by checking the phone, we lose a lot of precious time on a daily basis. Time, which could be used to get out of bed and prepare for work.
This is why one of the best enhancements to your morning routine is the exclusion of any digital devices. Don’t turn on your laptop and avoid checking your email for at least the first 30 minutes of your day. You will quickly notice that it doesn’t matter whether you check your email five minutes after you wake up or one hour after you do so.
Plus, going analog can increase your focus and make you more creative – especially if part of your routine includes drawing or writing. But even the sole fact that you don’t touch any electronic devices for the first 30 or 60 minutes after you wake up can significantly improve your mood and well-being in the long run.
Time needed: around 3 minutes.
Staying analog provides you with an opportunity to take a piece of paper and write a thank you note or a gratitude statement. The goal of this exercise is to try and focus on all the good things that you have received or experienced in life. Quite often, we become too used to everything around us that we stop appreciating it. And it’s the sheer appreciation that can make us feel a lot happier and more satisfied with life.
And while multiple studies have shown that people who regularly write down things they were grateful for are more optimistic, it’s not just about us. Other experiments have shown that employees whose work was appreciated by their managers with a simple “thank you”, were more motivated to work harder. This shows that it’s worth being grateful at all times.
Time needed: around 5 – 10 minutes.
If you want to keep your productivity at a healthy level, you need to have a plan for your day. Of course, while there are tasks that you repeat every day (such as this routine), there will be many things you will need to plan “as you go.”And early morning is an excellent time to do so.
The good news is that unless you are a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you probably won’t have to spend too much time planning your day (and if you are, you most likely have someone who does a lot of the planning for you). Typically, all you need to do in this phase is create or update and review a to-do list (as it’s better to create a list upfront and just update it as new things come up).
Writing and reviewing your to-do lists helps your brain decide which tasks are important and makes it easier to turn abstract goals into concrete results. Just make sure that you break down the big, time and resource consuming tasks. Otherwise, you might be sabotaging your own success.
In fact, to make the most out of your daily task planning, ensure that you put extra emphasis on the hardest task of the day. Let me assure you that once you deal with it, everything else will go much smoother.
Hint: Anytime you are preparing your to-do lists or working on your goals, consider taking advantage of the 80/20 rule (the Pareto Principle). Check whether you aren’t putting 80% of your time into things you aren’t passionate about and which don’t drive you closer to your long-term goals. Instead, identify the 20% that brings you the most value and try to build on that.
Time needed: 3 minutes.
Another task routinely done by high-achievers is visualization. From athletes to business people, many of those who are successful, spend time imagining all the steps they need to do to succeed – regardless of whether it is a long-term plan or a golf shot. What’s interesting, when it comes to sports, studies have shown that mental practice can be almost just as effective as a physical one.
Of course, if you are lifting weights, your muscles won’t grow the same way they would if you were just staring in the mirror and visualizing growth – but doing so can significantly increase the results. The same is believed to be true in any other field and is also why those who visualize their goals have a higher probability of achieving them.
Of course, make sure that you follow through with the stuff that needs to be done to achieve your dreams – otherwise, instead of reaping the benefits of visualizations, you would be merely daydreaming.
Time needed: around 5 minutes.
If you need a motivational kick to get things going, it might be a good idea to watch a short video early in the morning. Of course, don’t do that right after you wake up. In fact, if you decide to add this to your routine, I would keep it as one of the last tasks – if only just to postpone the moment you start using digital devices for as long as possible.
While I am a big believer that if you want to get things done, discipline is much more important than motivation, there is nothing wrong with spending just a few minutes watching a video and reminding yourself about what others have achieved and what our bodies and minds capable of.
Time needed: around 15 minutes.
Looking for inspiration but prefer reading to watching? Then you should spend 10 or 15 minutes every morning studying a quality book. But, don’t go for just about any novel or the latest criminal story. Instead, start your daily reading routine with books that can have a positive impact on your life.
If you are unsure which to pick, you can go for the all-time classics such as The Art of War by Sun Tzu, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius or Letters from a Stoic by Seneca. Of course, you can go for books written in the 20th or 21st century as well – it’s just that some of the old writings are still perfectly applicable in today’s times.
Caution: Just like visualizations and motivational videos, reading can trick your brain into thinking that reading is actually doing the work. The truth is, you still need to put in the effort to build discipline and increase your motivation long-term. That’s why it’s so important to limit the number of motivational videos or pages that you read every day and leave enough time for real work.
Time needed: 2 – 3 minutes.
Depending on how long your routine is, you might want to include a short break in it – which is best spent with deep, conscious breathing. Why it’s important to stop for a minute and focus on breathing?
Nowadays, partially obsessed with the need to look attractive, we have shifted on how we breathe, from abdominal breathing to chest breathing, which can increase tension and anxiety. Deep, abdominal breathing helps improve oxygen exchange, increasing the amount of incoming oxygen. On top of that, it’s a great way to relax, slower the heartbeat and stabilize your blood pressure.
The best about this routine is that you don’t need anything special to do it. Just stop, breathe slowly into your nose and watch your belly rise. After a few seconds, exhale and watch your muscles relax. Repeat that a few times over two or three minutes.
Time needed: 5 minutes.
Do you have a list of goals pinned on your wall but can’t make any progress? The reason could be you don’t believe deeply enough in yourself. To boost your confidence and steer your mind towards achieving your goals, start reciting a short, positive affirmation every day. By doing so consciously, you can push yourself further, and increase the amount of willpower that you have “available”.
Of course, keep in mind that affirmations alone are not enough – they should be used to give you the extra kick when you most need it – but they won’t substitute the work you need to do. The good news is, it takes just a few minutes of conscious daily repetition to increase your confidence. But, if possible, make sure that you do so every day at the same time.
In case you wondered – you can use different affirmations depending on what you want to achieve. You can say affirmations such as “I have everything I need to be extremely successful” or “I’m on the right track to grow my business”, “I trust myself and I know I can achieve X” or even a simple “I can do it!”.
Time needed: 2 minutes.
Your morning ritual doesn’t have to end the moment you finish the tasks assigned to it and start your workday. To keep your curiosity and consciousness high throughout the day, you can ask yourself the so-called “Question of the day”.
The goal is to try and find the answer to it during the day. Of course, it should be a question which you can actually answer without any extensive research. Instead, it can be a psychological one. You can also ask questions related to your goals or even other exercises in your morning routine. For example, you can look for a solution to a problem, solving which should help you move closer to achieving that goal.
Spending just a few minutes every morning feeling grateful and reviewing your achievements, goals, and desires can strengthen your mind, make you more disciplined, and truly change the way you think about life in general. But, it’s not just the mind that’s worth taking care about – let’s see what you can add to your routine to help you stay physically fit and healthy.
Onto the next set of morning routines – Body Rituals.
The next set of morning rituals – targeting your body – is designed to help you stay physically fit and oxygenate your blood and your body. Keep in mind that there is no rule as to which elements you should include in your routine. Similarly, you can complete the mentioned tasks in any order that you want.
Time needed: around 2 minutes.
Starting your day with a glass of warm water and a slice of lemon or lemon juice (freshly squeezed – not the one you can get in a tiny bottle at a local supermarket) not only helps you stay hydrated but can also improve your digestion, helping you lose weight. Of course, it’s not a magic pill – but if you drink a glass a day, it will all quickly add up.
Not to mention the daily dose of vitamin C, which strengthens your immune system, helps protect you from cell damage (as a very effective antioxidant), speeds up recovery from various injuries, and can lower the risk of kidney stone formation.
Quick note - some people believe that lemon juice is dangerous for your enamel. While it is true that lemon acid can damage your teeth, you would have to chew on it for quite some time for it to happen. Drinking lemon juice diluted with water is perfectly fine and comes with a set of great health benefits.
Time needed: just one minute.
Although lemon juice comes with a set of benefits, if you don’t like it, water alone can be very beneficial for your health too. Drinking a glass or two helps boost resting metabolism, and increases the energy expenditure of our bodies.
All that can be of great help if you want to control your weight or shed some fat. Not to mention that staying hydrated is critical for your well-being.
Time needed: around 7 minutes.
Many people prefer a glass of fresh juice to water. Some do that for the taste of it, others drink it because daily juicing is believed to help detoxify the liver, keep your skin and hair healthy, as well as improve the health of your heart. On top of that, because fruits are full of antioxidants, juicing can help you stay younger and reduce the impact of free radicals on your body.
Another benefit is that you can get a huge nutrient boost right after waking up – no need to cook, and the “meal” itself is very light so you won’t feel tired. Just remember that the juice should be homemade and fresh. Most “mainstream” juices which you can buy at a local store have very little vitamins and often contain a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Time needed: 10 minutes (unless you jump out of it much faster!).
Ready for a harsh wake-up? Let’s jump right into the shower. And do it the cold-style.
There are two different types of cold showers. The first one, also known as the “James Bond shower”, is not much different from your typical everyday shower. But, once you are clean, relaxed and ready to grab the towel, turn off all the hot water leaving just the cold running. This temperature shock is what can provide you with a set of great benefits, the primary of which include:
And what’s the other method? It’s simple – no hot water at all. Freezing cold shower from start to finish.
Time needed: 10 - 20 minutes.
There is no better way of starting a day than good old physical exercises. And while you don’t have to head to the gym and lift weights, a consistent routine consisting of body-weight squats, push-ups, and pull-ups can do wonders to your physical performance.
But what if you are completely out of shape and doing just one push-up can be too much for you right now?
In this case, you can start from the very basic variations of every exercise. To see excellent examples of a body-weight routine that includes the fundamentals for complete beginners, check out this book. Just don’t be discouraged by its title – it’s one of the biggest calisthenics’ classics.
And what about the motivation? Well, if you can already do push-ups, just not too many of them, consider adding one every week. Why just one? Adding just one makes it feel like not adding any at all (as you have enough time to get used to the current number of repetitions), tricks your brain, and makes it easier for you to stick to your routine.
And what about the benefits? I think they are so obvious that there’s no point in listing them here. In the end, everyone knows that staying physically fit is one of the best things which you can do for your health.
Time needed: 1 minute – or as much as you want
Don’t forget to start your day with a smile. While this may sound obvious or even cheesy, happiness gives us a huge advantage in life. This is because more and more researchers start to believe that it’s not our success that makes us happy – but rather, our happiness makes us successful. Considering how little effort it requires to smile every day (and it’s free) you should do that as often and as much as you can!
Smiling is also where the physical and mental activity starts mixing with the last set of rituals – those targeting your soul, the invisible power that drives you every day. In fact, as you’ll see in just a second, soul rituals often take the best out of the mind and body ones and create very effective and beneficial exercises.
Let’s move onto Soul Rituals.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a very spiritual person, don’t skim this part just yet. The exercises that you are about to see, if performed correctly, belong to some of the most beneficial which you can include in your morning routine. And everything starts with the king of morning routines.
Time needed: around 10 minutes.
If you have ever read at least one article about morning routines, I’m sure it included meditation as one of the core elements. This is because meditation has tens of powerful benefits – from easing the mental stress and anxiety to helping you fight depression. In fact, it’s probably the best thing you can do if you compare the time required with the potential benefits. So, how to practice it?
One of the most popular meditation practices – seated meditation, also known as Zazen, takes just 10 to 15 minutes of controlled breathing, during which you try to fight the distractions and focus on the air coming in and out of your body. Even though it’s considered to be the core part of Japanese Buddhist practice, you don’t need anything more than a comfortable cushion. Sit down, close your eyes and enjoy the process.
And if you are worried about falling asleep if you meditate shortly after waking up, you can try tea meditation. Just like Zazen, it comes from Japan, where it is often practiced by two people drinking the tea together – but you don’t have to wake up anyone else if you want to practice it in solitude. To get the most out of it, follow the below steps:
Time needed: around 15 minutes.
The next thing you can do is creative writing or drawing. A session full of early-morning creativity (do whatever you want – you can work on a personal project or just do something for fun) can help you come up with some cool ideas which you would have never thought of during a busy and stressing day.
Sometimes, once you get used to these sessions, you will notice that you go way beyond the initial 15 minutes and end up creating a fully-usable, high-quality graphic or an article which is ready to be published on your blog. Why does that happen? It’s simple –because you are not forcing yourself to do the work, your brain is much more relaxed, what makes the process a lot more enjoyable.
And the best is, all you need is a piece of paper or your favorite writing/editing app – however, it’s much better to do this offline, especially if you want to focus on pure creativity, brainstorming ideas, and having fun.
Speaking of writing, another excellent way to spend your early morning is writing your thoughts in a journal. While keeping a journal could seem obsolete in today’s electronic era, there are so many benefits to it that it’s no surprise it has been around for centuries. Some of them include:
Keeping a journal is recommended to anyone, but its benefits go way beyond making you more productive and disciplined. Some researchers believe that frequent journaling can have lots of great health benefits and help those with eating disorders, bipolar disorder, ADHD & ADD, depression and even schizophrenia. And the best is, all that’s needed is a notebook, a pen, and a few minutes of time.
Time needed: around 30 minutes.
If you are working a 9-5 job and would like to change your career or start a side business but believe you have no time to do that, set aside just 30 minutes every day to focus exclusively on that new venture.
The truth is that if you stay consistent, after a few months those minutes of every day will bring you much, much closer to achieving your goal than even a few hours of infrequent work.
Why? Just think about it – 30 minutes every day equal 182.5 hours every year. And that’s more than a full week (or almost 23 eight-hour days, which effectively equal a month of a 9/5 job) of working on your side hustle – and nothing else. Just imagine how far you could get in that time!
Time needed: around 10 minutes.
Need to relax? This 4,000 years old holistic system of breathing, body posture and meditation can help you loosen your muscles, improve your cardiopulmonary and vascular function, as well as strengthen your all internal organs. And the best is, it’s safe for your joints, ligaments and bones.
Even better – it can actually prevent their injuries, and even help you recover from past injuries much faster. Sounds like something worth trying? But what exactly are these exercises?
A Qigong routine includes stretching, visualizations, and breathing. Because it does not require any extra strength or prior experience and the routine itself is very gentle, it can be practiced at all ages. For example, in China, Qigong is a very popular routine even for those well over the age of 60. The main focus of these exercises is placed on:
Whatever you decide to include in your routine, don’t make it too long or overwhelming – especially if you’re just starting out and this is the first time you will be experimenting with a conscious morning ritual. Feel free to pick one or two tasks from each category. And, if you feel like even that is too much, stick to one task for a week. Would that be enough?
Of course! Just make sure that it’s something that you believe you should be doing and can have a very positive impact and change on your life.
As you will see, no matter how tempted you feel, you don’t really need to take on ten tasks right away. Especially that as you become more productive and start actively pursuing your goals, you will have much less time than before.
Check out the Fameroutines of the famous and how it has improved their lives.
The one thing you can do right now is make one tiny change in your routine. Will it be changing a morning ritual that changes your mind, body, or soul?
You’ll find your morning ritual. Just like how William Wrigley kept changing and finally settling down on chewing gum.