uilding and following a morning routine is an essential process for self-growth. A successful start of the day structures the whole day ahead.
Instead of focusing on what to do in the morning, I will teach you how to start your morning routines and be consistent to make them a habit.
I have been practicing it for 3 months and I have never had so much progress in my projects and my identity sculpting.
## Why morning routines are important
Starting your day with a morning routine is a way to grow and ensure the best performance.
Instead of mindless actions, your structured morning routine will create momentum for the whole day ahead. It will help you to control your life, set priorities, and make your time productive.
Your brain is fresh, and your mind is clear from distractions in the early serene hours of the day.
Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor and a stoic philosopher, wrote about the significance of waking up early, preparing for the day, and finishing essential tasks first.
Consistent improvements each day lead to a significant change in the future.
## How to get started
For a long time, I used to wake up late to have just enough time to get ready and commute to work. I called myself a late-night sleeper and hated mornings until I started to practice my morning routine.
A morning routine is a habit. Like any other healthy habit, it is hard to build. However, several tips help to make the process easier.
Habit building frameworks revolve around two crucial points: make it rewarding and low-cost. Your midbrain's reward economy operates with those two variables and decides whether the new behavior is worth it or not.
Here are 4 hacks to make your morning routine as easy to start as possible.
1. **Make it easy.** Your brain does not want changes until it is beneficial to your well-being and survival. Changes in the neural structure are expensive energy-wise. They will not be motivated until it is either easy to perform or have instant rewards. Anything long-term is considered high-cost. The limbic system in the brain prefers to be satisfied now than later. Therefore, start small and make it easy.
2. **Make it satisfying.** The ancient part of the brain, the limbic system, wants rewards and satisfaction. That is why instant gratification is so addictive. It is low-cost and highly pleasurable for the brain's reward system. To make a habit stick, you have to make it appealing. Reward yourself with something enjoyable once you finish your ritual or a part of it. For instance, my reward is a breakfast with a coffee plus the checkboxes in the journal I keep. It is satisfactory to have all the boxes checked. However, there will be days when you cannot complete your morning routine. It brings the following point.
3. **Be consistent.** Even when you cannot go through the whole process, try to make the bare minimum. Repetition is more important than quality. To make the habit stick, you have to perform it for at least 60-70 days. Once you automate a task, you can work on the quality. It is okay to miss a day. The key is to start your next streak immediately. Once you miss 2 days straight, the chances are you are going to lose the grip.
4. **Increment the complexity.** Once you feel comfortable, make the routine more challenging. The more you repeat, the more neural connections you form. More neural synapses mean more automation and less spent energy. Increasing complexity promotes growth but is still manageable and not energy-consuming.
To learn more about motivation and habits, refer to the article about the [brain's reward system](https://www.maray.ai/posts/motivation-reward-system-economy) and read Atomic Habits book.
## Morning routine framework
Many routines of famous people include health, mind, and work in one way or another. In the beginning, I only addressed the first two, leaving learning and self-growth to later hours of my days.
However, I realized morning hours are excellent for learning and working too. Your mind is fresh and focused. Nobody distracts you.
> "It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth and wisdom.” — Aristotle”
It is the time when you can get your things done. Even if it is just 30-60 minutes of work. If you learn, read, and grow each day consistently, the long-term results are enormous. Even small actions compound into great results. Later in the article, I will explain what I gained from a 5-minute morning routine.
Here are the benefits you can get by consistent work in these areas of your life. They are not limited and go beyond this list.
- Wake up your body.
- Decrease cortisol and increase dopamine.
- Promote neural activity in the brain.
- Train agility and keep energy levels high.
- Promotes neurogenesis and [neuroplasticity](https://www.maray.ai/posts/what-is-neuroplasticity).
- Meditate, write, plan, contemplate.
- Clarify the vision and life goals.
- Align yourself with your purpose.
- Grow and learn.
- Review the plans for the day.
- Read or learn anything that enriches your skills.
The meaning of morning rituals is mindful growth. You dedicate an hour of your time early in the morning just for yourself. Consistent daily improvements in your health, mindset, and skills will ensure your personal growth.
### Prepare your morning routine
Write down a specific instruction for yourself. A step by step guide. Think about how you can make it simple, yet consistent. Once you wake up you will know exactly what you have to do.
**Here is how my morning flow looks like in detail.**
1. Wake up by 6.
2. Check phone for 5 minutes.
3. Brush teeth.
4. Exercise 20 min.
6. Reflect. Morning bullet journal and meditation. Vocal cords warm up.
7. Read or learn for 20 min.
Waking up is the hardest, but it gets much easier after that. Once I am out of my warm and cozy bed, I am in the flow and the rest of the steps are not difficult to perform at all.
> “At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work – as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for – the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?’” — Marcus Aurelius
The more specific you are, the better chances you will do it. Do not overwhelm yourself. The key is to give your brain some time to get used to the changes. Start simple and then increment the complexity.
Each person is unique. Something that worked for me might not for someone else. Adjust your routine based on the feedback you receive. If you feel more exercising is good for you - go for it. If you feel 10-minute yoga is the perfect warm-up of your body, that's great.
I plan to adjust my morning routine once my sabbatical is over and I start my regular work. To grow and develop the blog further I have to find time and energy. So far, the best time to work on it is early in the morning before work. If I work for 30 minutes every day, it will result in a well-written blog post by the end of the week.
## My morning routine with Notion
I start my morning ritual by going to bed early. To ensure a productive morning, you have to sleep and rest well.
A good night's sleep allows me to wake up fresh. I used to have sleep problems which resulted in fatigue and headache in the morning. It was not possible to have a productive morning without solving the sleep issue first.
Once I wake up, the hardest part is to get going. The bed is too warm and cozy for the brain to trade-off with a healthy morning ritual. Therefore, you have to make a little bit of effort to get going. Once you do, everything else will come easier.
### Health → Mind → Growth
Physical fitness ensures a clear and fresh mind. Reflection and meditation set your focus and mind for your goals and tasks. Learning and reading deliver goals and promote your growth.
The first part of my morning ritual consists of waking up the body with water and exercises. It takes 15-20 minutes.
Next, I reflect on my day and keep track of my tasks and habits in my daily journal. Journaling makes the whole ritual much easier. Once you build a template, it’s very fast to go through and fill it in. I finish off this step with a 10-minute meditation, which helps me to clear my mind and focus on the day ahead.
The last part consists of learning and reading. If you learn something each day, then in 365 days you will progress and enrich your skills with new knowledge. It’s a simple rule that yields outstanding results.
## How my morning routine helps me to grow
When I took a sabbatical, I was worried that I will not be productive without pressure. Even a year ago I was a person that was motivated mostly by the pressure of deadlines and responsibility. Fear motivation drove me. I could not find another way to be disciplined to fulfill my goals. Failure and shame motivated me stronger than rewards.
The more I learned about habits and motivation, the more I transformed my thinking patterns. The more I accomplished, the more my brain got used to the new ways of motivation through long-term rewards and effort. The hardest part of the process was to start.
My problem was that I considered myself a [perfectionist](https://www.maray.ai/posts/perfectionism-vs-excellence), which hindered me from getting started. Instead of setting a habit to read 10 minutes a day, I would set a goal to read 12 books a year. My goals were too big to get started.
### Break from procrastination with a habit-forming framework
The solution was to start with a small and easy habit: perform a morning 5-minute ritual.
I needed a system that would allow my thoughts stored somewhere physical. I made a template with the predefined points to go through. By then, I used two principles of habit building. First, I started small, and second, I made it easy.
In the beginning, I would only write what I am grateful for and a few affirmations to shift my believes about myself.
In the evening, I would schedule the next day and journal. Once I was consistent enough with the flow, I started to add more habits I wanted to build.
I began to stretch in the morning for 5 minutes while the coffee is being ready, and exercise my vocal cords while I go through my morning routine. Later, I added reading a book for 10 minutes, practicing visualization techniques, and writing down what I learned that day.
The more I repeated the habits and checked them, the more I was invested and did not want to break the streak. I applied another rule: it was more satisfying to check off a habit than not do it.
I have been practicing it for almost 4 months, and it has been one of the best improvements in my life. Not only do I improve each day, but I am also consistent with other tasks.
### Further changes
A small morning routine promoted other changes. I became more disciplined and productive.
The positive experience reinforced my behavior. Long-term projects, such as this blog, became motivating and encouraging.
From there, I continued with setting macro goals and reviewing my life weekly and monthly. It helped me to see the bigger picture and adjust my habits and actions to make further progress.
The changes compounded from a simple 5-minute morning routine. It was an easy task and it resulted in many other positive changes in my life.
## Final thoughts
Two critical aspects helped me to establish and follow my morning routine. The first is the theory behind habits that I learned from Atomic Habits. The second is Notion, which allowed me to organize my habits, tasks, and goals in a system that is easy to track and follow.
I discovered them almost simultaneously, and they complimented each other in the best way. It is possible to build a system without software, but it was essential for making my habits much simpler to perform.
To sum up, start an easy morning routine that will get you going. Next, increment the complexity and adjust the process to your own needs. The daily actions you take will result in a huge difference in the long run.
Now you know everything to successfully create and perform your morning routine. Copy the Notion [Daily Tracking template](https://www.notion.so/0d9bbbce01644f33b0dc891fe1cf1e00) and make your first step in creating a productive morning routine.