Morning rituals

St Michaels Mount

This topic, like simplicity, is not new.

For some of us, we don’t give it a second thought – it just happens.

However, I am of the view that, if managed, it has the potential to make a significant impact on our lives.

I am an early riser (5 am-ish).

I do it out of choice.

Sometimes, I need an alarm clock but, mostly, I rely on my body clock to get me up.

As you have probably seen on my Twitter stream, during School time, I have an action-packed morning to contend with: getting up three children aged 16, 13 and 9 (all girls) is not short of drama and a little bit of stress on Dad’s part!

I wake my children at 7 am (I am commanded to do so by the eldest, Evie), which normally gives me 60-90 minutes to myself. This period is special, not just because I am incredibly productive, but I am able to think in an atmosphere of quiet contemplation. I also review my Most Important Things (MIT) – I use Todoist for this; and, of late, I write my (best) poetry.

For me early mornings are still work in progress. I feel I could get up at 4 am and still be functional by 10 pm but I think 5 am is quite early enough. I am convinced that, in time, I will make even better use of the available time. For one thing, having changed my thinking on the amount of time I spend sharing information and checking in on social media, I have created a sizeable mental space that allows me to be much more focused. For all my love of Twitter et al, there is a distraction bias that creeps into my routine.

Perhaps I am lucky that (a) I have the stamina to keep up the ritual every day; (b) enjoy the solitude; and (c) find it therapeutic to have time to myself. But, having played around with all sorts of productivity regimes, sometimes working late into the night (2 am) and creating time blocks, I still believe that early mornings are the best time to work.

My biggest challenge is to force myself to go to bed earlier. Most nights I can stay up to 12 midnight but by Saturday I am absolutely worn out and feel like a Zombie. Going out for a hard ride on my bike does wake me from my slumber but I have to try and catch up with my sleep as otherwise come Monday I feel awful.

It goes without saying that we are all creatures of habit, and I’m certainly not expecting you to change your morning ritual on a whim, but, just once in a while, it helps to mix things up and do something unexpected.

The only reason that I feel able to share my ritual with you now is because of the settled pattern I have fallen into over the last couple of years. Up to then, I didn’t give it a moment’s thought largely as a result of getting up to go to work. Of course, even though I do not work for someone else, I maintain the same ritual: 9 am(ish) to 7 pm with a break at some stage and a School pick up, unless my wife collects our youngest.

If you are not convinced of the need to change things, you need to consider when, if at all, you are going to make time for yourself. You might think that your commute is your quiet time, but rarely did I find driving to and from work or taking the Tube that relaxing or thoughtful.

Even if you decide to rise 30 minutes earlier than the statutory time, you will still be doing more than the majority of people. But don’t fritter the time away. Even if exercise is not your thing, just reading or listening to an audio book can make a huge difference to what you learn if you multiply the time over the course of the year.

Morning rituals are priceless, and I am sure will continue to take on even greater significance as I continue to learn about the things that truly bring me to a state of full consciousness.

Julian –

PS. It would be great if you could share your morning ritual and what you think is special and works for you.

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