They say that a habit is something you form over time. And for you to build a good habit and forget a bad habit, research shows that you need to do it consistently for at least 21 days for the normal person, sometimes even more for a difficult one. I wanted to share with you my daily early morning routine habit that I formed together over time. Most of them are new, and some of them are old. I’ll give a brief description of what I do and why I do it to give some sort of rationale. Please note that these are as current as this week and there could be some very minor changes to my routine if some doesn’t work out for me long term or doesn’t make any sense to do so, but this is pretty much what I stick to. I’ll indicate the degree of difficulty of me doing it and if there are chances that I actually miss out on doing it.
Also, I compiled these habits from the habits of the most successful people in the world, such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban, US Navy SEALs and Warren Buffet. Pretty diverse list if you ask me. Their habits are worth researching about.
1. 3 minute exercise – Upon waking up, I do these 3 exercises: 50 jumping jacks, 50 squats and 50 pushups. I started with doing 20 of each and gradually added 5 reps every month or so. The important thing here is that I want my heart rate to go up as much as I can (up to 120BPM) upon waking up even before I take my coffee (which I’ll talk about later on). This wakes me up and kicks my butt to get off my bed, which for most people, is the hardest thing to do. I try to set an alarm 30 minutes before doing this and another one 30 minutes after that initial alarm goes off. It gives me enough time to prepare my mind and body of what my routine will be like. Degree of difficulty (DOD): 8/10
2. Fix my own bed – Right after doing the exercise, I fix my bed. I don’t usually have a blanket, so it’s basically just setting all 3 of my pillows in 1 place as neat as possible and any wrinkles to my bed. My wife usually is still sleeping when I wake up or almost the same time as me, so I don’t try to disturb her sleep if I do wake up too early. Fixing my own bed gives me a feeling of accomplishment, and having that feeling makes me feel like I can accomplish all my tasks ahead. I learned this from the US Navy SEALs. It’s a reminder for me too that where I sleep is where I will not do any work. DOD: 1/10
3. Drink 2 glasses of ice cold water or 1 liter of water and take my morning medicines – I sleep between 6-8 hours a day and with those hours, I am dehydrated for sure. So the best way to replenish the lost fluids while sleeping is to drink 1 liter of water right away on an empty stomach. Now I know some people prefer warm or lukewarm water, but I researched that cold water is a lot more beneficial in the morning. I usually try to down between 3 to 5 liters of water every day, 5 liters if I’m working out that day. So downing 1 liter upon waking up gives me a head start. In between drinking that liter of water, I take my morning vitamins and minerals, I won’t go into detail in that because my vitamins and mineral intake vary from 3 months or so, but the 3 most important vitamins for me would be Multivitamins, Vitamin C and Omega 3. Those are my non negotiable vitamins upon waking. There are other medicines I take, but again those vary from time to time. DOD: 2/10
4. Read today’s “Our Daily Bread” and a page from a motivational book – This is something I learned to do early on this year. I’m a Roman Catholic, but I do read “Our Daily Bread” from Born Again/Christian religion because I like reading stories to relate to the Bible verses. I’m not as religious as my wife Kristina but hey, at least I’m trying. Then after reading a ODB, I then pick up a motivational book usually about leadership or for entrepreneurs to inspire me or give me something to ponder on at the same time. John Maxwell’s books are very inspirational for me, and so is Tony Robbins. DOD: 4/10
5. Meditate for 3 minutes – This for me in very important. This is where I free my mind of all the stress, worries, pain or negativity that I have in my head. Just me doing an Indian sit, hands relaxed, eyes closed and just breathing as deep as I can. I release all negativity in my body and try to take in as much positivity in my body through my breaths. I learned this from a book I read about how we all breathe, but not all of us are actually breathing life. Meditation also makes me focused for the 3 hours a day of complete focus which I need every day to accomplish my daily goals. DOD: 7/10
6. Read my 10 affirmations and daily goals in front of a mirror – If you don’t know what affirmations are, Tony Robbins would be the best person to explain that. What I basically do is tell 10 things that I am about and my importance to the world. This is not motivation, but just reaffirming to myself things that make me who I am as a person. After reading those 10 things in front of the mirror, I then proceed to read my top 3 daily goals for the day and my long term goal, usually with a self imposed deadline of up to the end of the year. An example of that would be like opening a new company before December 31, 2020. The daily goals are the action plans I need to take to make that long term goal a reality. So I’m able to visualize it every day and how I’m going to do it. Getting a bigger mirror also such as a full body mirror that shows your face and body is something I would highly suggest. DOD: 4/10
7. Self Motivation – For 1 entire minute while looking at myself in front of a mirror, I say the most powerful words to myself to praise, uplift, add confidence and motivation. Words such as amazing, powerful, successful, smart, wonderful, loving, caring, great, you get my point. Words that not even your partner or parents would tell you on a regular basis or tell you at all. Saying these words to yourself is going to jumpstart your day for sure! DOD: 2/10
8. Make my coffee and have something to bite on – This is pretty much self explanatory. I learned this from studying Elon Musk’s habits. He doesn’t have breakfast besides coffee. The only large meal he would have is between 4-6 PM and that would be lean chicken breast (grilled, steamed or boiled) with either spinach, broccoli or asparagus. This is something I do as much as possible every Monday to Friday. It took me 3 weeks, yes, 21 days to finally get a grasp of this difficult habit, but when I did, my mind just went super focused between 8 to 4PM. So besides coffee, I would eat probably 2 hard boiled eggs or a piece of wheat bread and peanut butter. Anything that I can do 5 to 7 bites with is good. For lunch, I would own a scoop of my favorite Protein Shake. You see, whenever we eat food, our mind is working also to digest everything we ate, so basically our mind is multitasking instead of focusing on the tasks ahead of us. This is the rationale for not having a hearty breakfast for me and just having 1 meal for the entire day. On weekends, I would go as far as having 2 full meals for lunch and dinner, but that’s about it. Eating food is an addiction that we don’t talk about usually, and it’s something I studied deeply over the years with what goes in our body. Other people like doctors or health experts may have something to say about my daily diet, but for me, this is what works best for me long term, with what I do daily. I also made sure to ask a couple of nutritionists for their advice on my diet. Currently, as I write this, I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life ever, and I thank in part my minimal habit of eating. I will not go in the detail much of why I need to drink coffee in the morning, but simply, I just drink either pure black coffee with MCT Oil or Green Coffee with MCT Oil. This helps provide great energy and mental focus for hours for me. DOD: 10/10 in the beginning but now it’s a firm 7/10 for me.
9. Take a shower – Shower is a good indication that you’re going out somewhere and for me, even if I mostly work from home, I make it a point to take a bath in the morning plus do all my self maintenance routine (face, teeth and skin). I probably will do another blog to just talk about my skin routine since I have very oily and sensitive skin plus why it’s important to visit your dermatologist at least 1 to 2 times every 2 months. I love taking showers because many of my ideas pop out of my head when I’m taking a bath, maybe because I’m not distracted by anything during these 5-10 minutes. DOD: 1/10
10. Check my messages and emails for 30 minutes max – Notice how up to this point, I have not mentioned picking up my phone. The first thing I did back then upon waking up was pick up my phone, and suddenly I’m stuck in my bed for 2-3 hours doing nothing but mindlessly scrolling on my social media accounts. That made me so unproductive early in the day. So after taking a shower and dressing up for the day, that’s when I can only pick up my phone, read my messages and respond to all of them. You see, I handle a lot of things, from my personal business, consultancy and other social engagements. I would get at least 30 to 100 new messages upon waking up, and if I do that first thing upon picking up my phone, I’m going to be stuck on it or I might get a negative message/news to start my day. So buy a cheap alarm clock (I have a Php 250 alarm clock that does the job) place it as far away from you so you need to get up to turn it off, set 2 to 3 alarms. Never use your phone as your alarm clock, or it will set you back even further. 30 minutes, use a timer on your phone once you pick it up, when it alarms, it’s time to put it down. Remember this, if it’s an urgent matter, people will CALL you, they will not just text you or message you on Viber/Whatsapp or Messenger that it’s urgent. So if someone calls you as early as 8 in the morning, that means it could be a very important call, and that’s the only excuse I will give myself to pick up my phone. PRO TIP: I turned off all my social media notifications and turned off email notifications between 9PM to 9AM. Also, by 10PM to 10AM, my phone is set to “DO NOT DISTURB” mode. So only call notifications will pop up. The lesser the notifications, the more focused you will be. My phone time decreased significantly from 8-9 hours a day to a mere 2-3 hours a day average. DOD: 10/10 for phone checker addicts. Now it’s just a 4/10 for me.
11. Read a book for 30 minutes to 1 hour – Depending on how busy my day is, I make it a point to read at least 50 to 75 pages in a book in 1 sitting. I love reading books, I feel like I’m picking the minds of the smartest and most successful people on earth. That is priceless. Warren Buffet religiously reads 500 pages a day during his lunch break from 12-1PM, whether it be a book, e-book or a newspaper. I’m not quite the fast reader yet that I want to be at, but over a period of time, I’ve learned how to block read and triple my reading speed from 100 words to 300 words per minute. My goal is to be able to read 600 words per minute with at least 90% retention of what I’m reading. Reading for me is fun and is a skill I’ve developed over time with practice. I’m a person that is horrible at 98% of the things people are skilled at in life or just average, but the 2% that I’m good at, I try to hone those skills even further by reading. That’s partly how I continue to learn and am able to teach my students at the same time. Most of the things that have been thought of and said by mankind has been written in books or articles, so most of what we read now have been information that has been updated or improved to match today’s current world. So nothing that philosophers or thought contributors such as I have not been said before. It’s all out there. We just have to read them. DOD: 5/10 but eventually, once I get to 600 WPM, this will become a 1/10 for me.
12. Write 2-3 blogs a day – This is a fairly new habit for me before I start my 3 hour focus window. What I do is that the night before, I prepare 3 to 5 topics I want to write about the next day, and gather as much information as I can about those topics besides those that I inherently know about. Of all types of communication, writing for me is where I’m most comfortable above all. Sure, I’ve become a better public speaker over the years, but for me, writing is where I can gather all my thoughts and arrange them in my mind before writing them down here as you read it. This is one of the legacies I would want to leave when I’m gone, because it would be a waste if I’m not able to share what I know from years of experience and my emotions at the same time. This is why I write, and this is why I will have many things to write about for the rest of my life. Writing 2 to 3, sometimes going as far as doing 5 in a day gives me enough material to schedule posting automatically on my website, especially during some days where I have a writing block of some sort. So if you’re reading this now, it’s something I most likely wrote about at least 7 to 14 days ago. DOD: 8/10 just because writing will make your mind work harder to produce quality content.
That’s it! My 12 early morning routine that became my daily habit! You don’t need to exactly copy what I do to be productive. I mean you could replace exercising with running outside for 5K or watch an educational YouTube video on your desired topic of learning instead of reading a book. What’s important is that those habits that you do compound over time slowly but surely. I’m 100% positive that if you do the same frequency of exercise I do, and have the same eating habits like I do in the morning from Monday to Friday, that in 1 year’s time, you will have a body that looks and feels healthier than it was before you started. Also, if you do some sort of intentional learning every day, you will be a much better communicator or speaker in a few months time. Make your daily habits part of your long term personal growth. If you have other suggestions to add to my daily habits or change in my daily routine, let me know in the comments section so I can consider them too!
Question of the day: What’s your early morning routine like now?