A good morning routine is essential if you want to be a successful creative entrepreneur.
Look up some of your favorite artists/entrepreneurs and you will see that most (if not all) of them follow very strict morning rituals. In fact, you will also see that it is the one thing that all successful people have in common.
It is hard to deny the importance of a structured morning. However, everyone has their own list of habits that works for them. Some say you should eat first, or spend a few minutes journaling. Others say it’s more important to start your day with a shower, or a workout.
It’s not that some folks are right and some folks are wrong. It’s a matter of finding what works for you.
After studying the morning habits of the most successful people, I think I’ve come up with one that will work for writers, creative entrepreneurs—Epic Introverts.
One Quick Caveat
Before we jump into the routines, you need to pin down your creative time. A lot of modern writers believe that we are at our most creative within the first two hours of the day.
Test this theory for yourself. If you find it to be true, then you will want to make time for this in your morning routine.
If you have a regular day job (sorry), you will need to guard your creative time closely. If you’re used to getting up an hour before you have to leave for work, you will definitely need to make some adjustments. I know that is a difficult pill to swallow, but at least you will be doing something you love.
Epic Mornings Start the Night Before
One of the best things you can do to ensure you have a powerful morning is get plenty of sleep. Until a few years ago, I always thought five or six hours was plenty. However, once I started getting eight hours the difference was clear. My mind was clearer, energy levels higher, my mood was better.
If you struggle with insomnia or late night night energy bursts like me, here are some tips that will help you.
1.) Eat earlier:
This is a big one, and one I found incredibly difficult. However, once you stop eating so late your body seems to naturally gear-down earlier.
Aim to eat dinner somewhere around 6 o’clock. Hey, if I can do it, you can do it. It’s not gonna be easy. But it can be done.
2.) Read Fiction:
You want to be sure to avoid reading non-fiction before bed. Reading fiction takes you out of problem-solving mode and into a more relaxed state. Aim for an hour of reading, but 30 minutes is okay if that is all you can get.
3.) Noise or no?
Most nights I have a hard time sleeping unless there is some kind of noise. I need a fan, rain, traffic—something to lull me to sleep. Binaural beats have been very effective for me and lots of others. But be careful, there’s all types of Binaural beats. Some are for sleep, others for focus, creativity, energy, healing, and so on. There’s a vast selection of binaural beats on YouTube.
Another option is to listen to natural sounds, like rain, waterfalls, or wind. Again, you can find plenty of these on YouTube, but you might want to also check out the selection Amazon Prime TV offers.
Now that we’ve got some good nighttime routines established, let’s talk about the AM.
So your eyes are open—don’t you dare hit that snooze button!—get your feet on the floor asap. Hitting the snooze button is a terrible way to start your day. It’s like telling your mind and body that there is not a good reason to get out of bed. You should be excited for the new day.
If you have a hard time motivating yourself to wake up, for whatever reason, do your writing in the morning. That way you have something to look forward to. You’d be surprised the difference this will make.
If you love coffee as much as I do, then this is probably going to be your first concern. Before you reach for that coffee mug, drink a glass of water.
Drinking a glass of water first is a great way to wake your body and your mind. Try this tomorrow morning before you drink that first cup and you will see a dramatic difference in your energy level.
After your water, go ahead and grab that coffee.
While you do that…
Although we are at our most creative first thing in the morning, I like to read for about 30 minutes or so. There’s nothing like reading a good book with that first cup of coffee. This is when I like to read non-fiction. Sometimes it is a blog post or news (nothing negative). Most times, however, I read a book. Here’s a couple non-fiction books I’ve read this year.
- Ask by Ryan Levesque
- Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
- The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
- Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out by Marc Ecko (my #1 recommendation for new writers)
I’m not a fast reader by any stretch of the imagination. But I’ve managed to read all those and more, by dedicating just 30 minutes a day.
Now that you have cleared most of the sleep from your eyes, it is time to pound out your word count.
Sit in a comfortable place, somewhere dedicated to writing. Having a dedicated ‘writing area’ helps you stay focused, although I do find it helpful to try a new spot once in a while. For example, every couple weeks or so I sit on my back porch while I write. I find it relaxing to sip coffee, write, and watch the sunrise. But if I did this every day it would lose its luster, so I try not to.
You Gotta Have a Goal
Be sure to set a goal for your writing. Whether it is a set number of words or a certain amount of time, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure you have a goal.
If your goal is based on time, you need to be very disciplined about not checking Facebook, news sites, and other distractions.
Writing time is for writing and nothing else.
Meditation is something I love, but don’t really know much about. However, I have been doing a lot of research, and I can tell you the effect it has had on me.
First, I want to say—meditation seems to be plagued by loads of myths. So many of the things I thought I knew about meditation before turned out to be completely false. Like the the idea that meditation is about clearing all the thoughts from your mind. Yeah… turns out, that is not true.
There are quite a few ways to meditate. Transcendental Meditation, or “TM”, is one that intrigues me and I’m trying to learn more about. For now though, I keep my meditation practice very simple. Here’s what I do…
- Close your eyes
- Breathe in deeply through your nose
- Exhale slowly through your mouth
- Try to focus on your breathing (instead of “clearing your mind”)
That is it! The point of meditation is not to clear your mind completely. It is more like decluttering.
To help, I almost always listen to binaural beats while meditating. And sometimes I will even do some basic stretches.
This simple meditation has made a big impact on my life in just a few short months.
Take a few minutes each morning to think about all the things you are grateful for. Your health, your family, your friends. But also try to be grateful for the things that challenge you. For example, instead of being angry about traffic, be grateful you have a car.
Try to do this for about ten minutes every morning.
The good thing about having a gratitude practice is that it can double as meditation. So if you feel like you don’t have time to do both meditation and gratitude, you can just do one of them. Or you can alternate, meditating one morning and gratitude the next. However, if you choose to stick with only one, I definitely suggest doing the gratitude.
Journal for 5 Minutes
The benefits of journaling are widely known. But to get the best benefits, you should try doing it with pen and paper. You don’t have to write about anything specific. Just set a timer, sit down, and start scribbling.
Sometimes this morning habit can be hard to maintain. So don’t overdo it. Just stick to five minutes, at least for a while. Later, if you feel like you want to do more, go for it!
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day…
But you don’t need a sprawling feast to start your day the right way. You just need to get something on your stomach. A little fuel.
Most days I find that oatmeal is the best option. It is quick, easy, and definitely better than a doughnut, pop-tarts, or some other kind of pastry.
If oatmeal isn’t your thing, cook up a quick batch of bacon. Or maybe throw on a couple scrambled eggs. You can do both if you want, but I prefer to stick to one or the other. It takes too much time to cook bacon and eggs. But making one takes no time.
Or you can try an Awesome Blueberry Smoothie.
- Local honey
- Frozen spinach
- Plain non-fat yogurt
- Almond Milk
- Peanut butter
There is no substitute for a good walk. Steve Jobs knew this. Aristotle knew it. And you can find countless other examples of creative thinkers who love to go for walks. Aim for about 20 minutes if you don’t have much time in the morning. However, if you can find a way to fit in an hour-long walk you will be much better off.
If you have a dog it is a good idea take it with you on your walk. This way you can accomplish two things—exercise for you and your pet.
However, you don’t want to multitask too much. It is okay to listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks sometimes, but don’t do it on every walk. One of the great benefits of walking is the opportunity to clear your head. If you are filling it with other information then it quickly becomes a waste of time. Music is probably okay, but I’d still try to go on walks that are info/entertainment free from time to time.
And that is it! That is the morning routine that I have found to be most effective.
Of course, you should take all this information, do a bit of research and testing of your own. Find the things that work best for you and make them habitual. Have fun!