Morning is wonderful. Its only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day.
— Glen Cook, Sweet Silver Blues
“I’m just not a morning person,” most people will say. I used to say the same thing, too, until I created a system that made my mornings not only effective but enjoyable.
And now I keep telling everyone who will listen: this simple commitment to rising early every day (except Sunday—even God rests on that day) has transformed my productivity and quality of life.
I no longer hurry from one thing to the next. Instead, I’ve found that the extra hours help bring my mind into a more relaxed state. I’ve stopped immediately reacting to messages on my phone and laptop, because the peace of early morning puts me in a state of calmness, creativity and accountability.
Perhaps it’s witnessing how darkness changes into light, or maybe it’s the sound of silence at dawn that makes waking up early (just before the sun rises) so magical.
Many religions, ideologies and philosophies direct us to get up early to meditate, pray or connect to our oneness. I genuinely believe that waking up early is a spiritual act. We enter a state of transformation, moving from our dreamy, soulful self into our physical one.
At this time of the morning, we are still in touch with our highest self, where all our Godliness resides. The morning presents a bridge between our soulfulness and our humanness.
Of course, there are many other tools to connect with our souls –creativity, prayer, love, compassion – but I have found my early morning routine to be one of the best and quickest methods.
Here are my seven favourite ways to cultivate the “Magical Morning” feeling that keeps us going all day:
• Get enough sleep
Most people take a good night’s sleep for granted. But lack of sleep is the new smoking and is fast becoming a silent joy killer.
We need to consistently get between seven and eight hours of sleep.
Our minds don’t shut down during sleep. Our bodies don’t become lifeless. Instead, this time is necessary for self-regulation and rejuvenation—the daily maintenance we so desperately need.
I used to say that sleeping too much was a waste of time, but as I grew older, bad sleep caught up with me. I became restless, frustrated and unproductive at the end of the work week. Ultimately, I was losing, not gaining, much-needed hours.
• Make it a ritual
We are creatures of habit; our minds and bodies react much better to fixed times and practices. We should try to sleep at the same time every night, setting an intention to get up early the next morning as if we indeed are looking forward to it. When the alarm rings, we get up without pressing snooze.
When I started rising early, I committed to trying it for 10 days straight. I went to sleep at 10 p.m. and got up at 5:30 a.m. every day. It was tough at the start, but on the tenth day, I didn’t need an alarm. That was almost seven years ago. Now, no matter where I am or what time I get to sleep, my internal alarm goes off at approximately 5:30 a.m.
• Sacred Silence
Whether it’s meditation, prayer, breathing or sitting in silence for 15 to 20 minutes, we must practise sacred silence just after rising.
Our mind goes still and our thoughts quiet or stops entirely. We remember that we are spirits having a human adventure.
In my minutes of sacred silence, I hear the rustling of leaves and the chirping of small birds outside.
As I read the Bhagavad Gita again, I’m reminded of my soul connection to the universe. I enjoy these moments immensely because they fill me with deep inner peace and love.
• Coffee, journalling
I love my coffee in the morning. I always drink a long espresso as I write in my journal. Every morning, I handwrite three-morning pages as prescribed by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. In them, I dump everything and anything that comes to mind in a stream-of-consciousness manner.
This has a cathartic effect, and I manage to tackle issues that have become urgent in my subconscious mind and are bubbling to the surface. I hardly ever go back and read my journals; they are gone and assimilated.
• Exercise, move
Many scientific studies confirm that exercise is as close as we have to a magic pill, surpassing antidepressants as the best way to maintain mental wellness.
I love exercising in the morning; it gives me so much energy that overflows into the rest of my day. Endorphins flood my system and make me feel invincible. However, I keep it simple and doable, so I don’t arrive tired to work. It could be a light jog, a quick high-intensity interval training routine, or a basic strength workout, but nothing longer than 30 minutes. My aim is not to be Mr Universe, but rather to remain healthy and high on endorphins.
• Cold shower, chill music, creativity
After exercising, it’s time for a cold, invigorating shower. There’s a lot of science to support this practice, but all I know is that it wakes me up and amplifies the energy I get from exercising. I then put on my headphones, listen to some “chill” music—neoclassical beats—and go creative for 40 minutes.
Most mornings, I write a thousand words or so, which become the basis for my articles. However, I also take James Altucher’s advice and sometimes write down 10 ideas about what I want to create. Last week, I spent some time brainstorming 10 ways to make my company’s products more marketable. I came up with a few good ideas, which I will implement soon.
* Set three tasks (or less) per day
I was obsessed with task management programmes, to-do lists and calendar applications before I read Gary Keller’s book, The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
Now, I’ve reduced my focus to fewer tasks, approached with maximum focus and dedication. Keller attributes his success to always asking himself one question: “What’s the One Thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else would be easier or unnecessary?” I am crafting better quality work, and I enjoy the feeling of presence when mono-tasking.
Getting up early is natural. What is unnatural is to live like a bat, staying up late at night and getting up around noon. The whole process of creating a wonderful morning might take up to a couple of hours, but then we’ve set ourselves up for a wonderful day, which can snowball into a good life.
Rise early. Start in solitude. Connect to your soul. Take care of your mind and body. Be creative. How can your day go badly when armed with all that preparation?
Just try it for 10 days, and please let me know how you feel.
Why not start today? Go to sleep early tonight!