‘Morning rituals’ is the latest catchphrase in the self-help industry with every guru and his grandmother spouting the value of waking up early. It has reached a point where one is led to believe that they need to wake up at an unearthly hour such as 4.30 am if they wish to be successful.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Ultimately, it’s not the time you wake up that matters. What really counts is what you do with the time you have. Let’s look at some of the most common morning ritual mistakes.
1. Waking up early when you’re a night owl
We’re all different individuals. Some people are like larks and have no problem getting up early, but these larks struggle to stay up late. Their natural circadian rhythm and genetic makeup predispose them to wake early.
At the other end of the spectrum are those who wake around 10 am or later. They struggle to wake up early but have no problems staying awake well into the night. They’re fully alert even if it’s 3 am.
The biggest mistake one can make is to force themselves to wake up early when it’s not something that aligns with their circadian rhythm. If you notice that you prefer working late at night, then just adjust your work schedule so that you get your most productive work done when everyone else is asleep.
In cases like these, your ‘morning’ routine will actually be later in the day or even in the afternoon because your waking hours are different. Nevertheless, the concept of a routine still applies.
If you have no issues waking early, you can easily train yourself to wake up earlier than normal. However, you can forget about burning the midnight oil and working through the night like Hunter S. Thompson.
Work in a way that’s ideal for you. There’s no need to emulate the waking hours of some top CEO just because someone on social media is telling you to.
2. Piling on unnecessary activities first
Another common mistake people make with morning rituals is doing other activities first… instead of doing first things first. Some people wake at 5 am and start meditating and journaling, and doing yoga followed by a long walk and of course, they have to have a healthy breakfast.
It all looks good, but by the time they’re ready to start work, it’s 9.30 am – and 4 and a half hours have already gone by, without any real work being done. While the other activities do have their benefits, they can all be shelved till later in the day.
When you wake, after you’ve freshened up, now is the best time to start working on your most important tasks for the day first. Always remember to keep the main thing the main thing and work on tasks that move the needle when you’re still fresh.
After 4 to 5 hours of focused work, you’ll need a break. Now you can do your gratitude journaling, meditation and other activities that help you stay sane.
3. Exercising too hard
Exercise is great, but the workout intensity will have a direct impact on your workday. If you’re the type of person who trains hard at the gym with supersets, and countless reps to failure, you’ll be exhausted after you work out. The same applies to those who engage in high intensity interval training.
While exercises like walking, swimming or cycling first thing in the morning can leave you feeling refreshed, other workouts like CrossFit, heavy resistance training and so on can leave you feeling wiped out.
So, depending on the nature of your workout, you may wish to do it in the afternoon after your important work is done. If you trained hard early in the day, you might not have the energy later on to focus on the tasks that require more mental energy.
In conclusion, it will take you a few weeks of iteration before you have a morning routine that’s ideal for you. Always remember to reflect on how the routine makes you feel and if it’s serving you well and aiding in productivity.
Once you have your routine set, then it’s just a matter of following it daily – and no matter what you do, whether it’s a weekday or a weekend, always remember to wake up at the same time daily so that your circadian clock is not disrupted. Get started on your routine tomorrow morning.
“If you win the morning, you win the day.” – Tim Ferris