I have always worked evenings and late into the nights ever since I started working in 2006. It began during my days as a Bollywood dance instructor with the Shiamak Davar Dance Company in India. We always got to work in the evenings after offices closed, and worked late into the nights. If we were on tour or had a show, we had rehearsals that went well into the wee hours of the morning. Back then, being young and not too aware of the demands I was putting on my body, I did not think much of it. Fast forward 10 years to the present, while I still work late into the evenings and nights, it is nowhere near as late as it once was. Being older (and perhaps wiser!) I have come to respect my body and it’s limitations so much more. The credit of this self-awareness most definitely goes to my continued practice of Yoga, and in my effort to live a more mindful lifestyle.
Running two small businesses without having much of a real business background, and in a foreign land that I now call home, is incredibly exciting, fun and satisfying. But it was not always like this. For the longest time, I struggled to understand what being self-employed truly meant. Working from home to build a business needs a tremendous amount of self-discipline, focus, and the ability to remain self-driven and persistent. It also requires a certain amount of self-critique, and willingness to change. When both of my businesses began in 2013, I had many a day of self-doubt, frustration, and lack of motivation.
Within the past year and more, I have finally found what works for me – I have successfully managed to establish a routine. Many days I work up to 12 hours. While a lot of it is not super heavy duty tasks when compared to other professions, it can still prove to be quite challenging to maintain. During all of this, one thing has proven to be extremely important in the past year – that is my morning routine. I am a productivity geek and often find myself reading up on different methods to help increase productivity and focus. What advice stood out the most? Create a morning routine!
One book in particular called the Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod got this going for me. He spoke about how the first hour and more of your day are sacred. It is the secret behind making your day and life successful. With nothing to lose, I started putting this into practice. Since, I have been mostly successful in maintaining a consistent morning routine. This has boiled over to help me become way more successful in my business, my yoga practice, and increasing my overall productivity. Here are a list of my favorite morning routine habits for you to try:
Tips for a successful morning routine
Wake Up Early
Take a look at any extremely successful person and their daily habits. Most likely, they all are (or have been) early risers. In general, studies show how people who wake up earlier in the day are more successful in life than those who sleep in. By waking up early, one can get more done in a day. While waking up is the hardest part, if you plan ahead in making your morning routine special or personal, you will leap out of bed most mornings. But be sure to go to bed at a decent hour with little or no screen time to feel rested and ready to wake up! If you do work later into the nights like I do, then decide what constitutes early for you.
Shower & Get Ready For The Day
I know most people like to do yoga or a workout and then take a shower, but I prefer jumping into the shower within 20 minutes of waking up. The hot water helps take away the fatigue from the previous night’s teaching session, and softens and opens up all of my muscles providing me much needed energy on dark, rainy Seattle mornings. The number of clicks, pops and squeaks from my joints during my Yoga practice are much less when I take a warm shower beforehand, and I am way more open in my body. This also saves time during my mornings instead of the other way around. Getting out of my PJ’s and into my yoga pants helps me feel ready to take on the day, and marks a clear transition from night to day.
Do Yoga or Workout
This is a must for me. I have struggled too often in the past to be self-disciplined to get myself on the mat. There are always so many distractions and something that needs to get done. But now I have formed the habit of bringing myself to the mat at least 5 days a week in the mornings – and it has become so effortless. The more I stick to my morning routine, the easier it becomes. Studies show that movement or exercise improves productivity, alertness, and concentration. Combined with Yoga’s breath-work and mindfulness techniques, it is a natural stress buster and helps to cope better with almost anything you attempt in your day and in life. How much Yoga or exercise you do is up to you, but know that a little can go a long way each day. Even just ten minutes of yoga is better than none.
When I was younger, I used to dislike this word. Something about sitting down and watching my thoughts seemed pointless, and my ignorance made me judge the practice of meditation harshly. But as my Yoga practice continues to grow, I have found a new respect, need, and admiration for this practice. Meditation has numerous benefits – it enhances mental clarity, creates more space and time when there seems to be a lack of it, and encourages more positive and logical reactions to the things life throws at us. As my Yoga practice grows, my mind asks for more silence. I do not have an elaborate meditation practice, but I make it a point to do a small one everyday, or often enough during a week. Sometimes, I even meditate in shavasana.
Read or Journal
This is in my top 3 favorite things to do in my morning routine! I got into this when I started planning my day with my passion planner. This has become my personal time in my day where I can set my intentions, make, review or alter goals, plan ahead, scribble down my dreams, and plan out my week ahead. Putting it down on paper is a good reminder of what kind of life I want to have each day. And since distractions are all around, opening my planner each day keeps me more organized and focused. I make it a point to add something special or fun each day, no matter what. Sometimes, this is as simple as a cup of special tea to something a little more elaborate, like planning a weekend hike or dinner with friends. If you are not the journaling type, then spend some time in the morning reading something that inspires you – a good book, a blog or anything that is not negative, overly biased, or emotional is good for the brain as well. Food for thought – literally.
Feed your body
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my cup of chai. It starts my day off on the right foot each and every time, and considering how cold it has been this year in Seattle, a warm beverage is always welcome. I combine my journaling/reading time with my morning cup of tea. Breakfast is always after Yoga – it is simple, wholesome and most importantly, not rushed. I know there is a fad of drinking green juice smoothies that everyone is trying, but the Indian in me is more than happy with dosa or bread in the mornings – whatever floats your boat. I am not a nutritionist or an Ayurveda specialist, so I will not recommend you try this or that, but do feed your body fresh, homemade food. I also listen to a podcast while eating so I end up feeding my body and brain before starting the day ahead.
Stay Away From Your Phone
Most of us roll out of bed and stare at our phones, it’s either Facebook or office emails, or maybe even the news. This not only takes away from the freshness of each morning, and affects us negatively, but it is also drains our time. We can often spend so much time on a tiny device that we will forget to spend time with our spouses, children, and pets. Tomorrow, when you wake up, try to not look at your phone as the first thing you do. Let it be for much later in the day, and notice how much more you can do or have time for in a day. You could also delete your notifications from apps so you are not constantly disturbed, and delete the ones you do not use. I have done this plenty of times in the past, and it’s definitely helped me to not log on and stare randomly at Facebook.
So will you try to make your mornings special? Take one day at a time and do not beat yourself up if you can’t get this right from the start. It takes time to set a successful morning routine. So how about trying it out for 21 days and seeing the difference a morning routine makes in your life.