One Simple Tip to Help You Start Your Day in a Better Way

by Henrik Edberg


Image by ePi.Longo (license).

One big problem for people is that they are inconsistent. Some day go really well.  Some days don’t.

So how can you increase the number of positive and effective days? Maybe the best way I have found so far is to make sure you have good and consistent start to your day.

I do this by using a morning ritual.

Why is it helpful to start your day with a specific morning ritual?

Basically, what you do early in the day often sets the context for your day. As humans we have a strong tendency to want to be consistent with what we have done before. That’s one big reason why a bad start often leads to a bad day and a good start often leads to a good day.

My morning ritual

  • Get up, drink a glass of water. You get dehydrated when you are asleep.
  • Pull the blinds from my windows and open a window to let in the sun and more fresh air.
  • Eat breakfast and drink a cup of green tea.
  • Brush my teeth and tongue.
  • Make my bed.
  • Declutter for a few minutes. I wash any remaining dishes from yesterday. I put anything that is out place back into it’s right place. I clean up my workspace so it’s clean and organized.

Basically, I center myself and get into an organized and productive mindset by doing these simple things to order and clean up my environment. It is also a good way to warm up for your day, get out of a procrastinating mindset and it makes it easier to consistently take the next step where I start doing the most important thing right now.

I have also started to use a Paraliminal each day over the last week or so after doing my morning ritual. This helps me to for example strengthen my motivation, to cut down on self-talk significantly for many hours and generally keeps me more focused and effective during the day.

My ritual is very simple but it really improves my consistency on a day to day basis. It lets me slip into the right mindset at the start of each day. I highly recommend coming up with own ritual and using it every morning for 30 days.

My ritual is still under construction and I’m optimizing it.

So I’m curious: are you using a morning ritual and how is your ritual set up?

If you enjoyed this article, please share it on Twitter, Facebook and Stumbleupon. Thanks a lot! =)





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{ 51 comments }

Marco Hansell May 28, 2009 at 11:01 pm

Funny I have a somewhat similar routine. I wake up, drink 1 1/2 glasses of water (usually gulp down the first, then can’t finish the second), take a shower, make my bed, clean any dishes (declutter my environment do destress myself), make my breakfast (usually waffles/panacakes, and omelette and bacon), do 50 pushups (gets me pumped), then i read the bible for 15 min, and start my day.

Whole routine takes me about an hr 15…but it does make a HUGE difference to how my day progresses.

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Sounds like a good routine, maybe I should add some brief exercise to my ritual too.

Tijl Vandersteene May 28, 2009 at 11:01 pm

I wake up with music. I can choose wich songs I want to hear and in what order. So I pick songs that make me feel good, that make me want to wake up. I can change them every day. Normally I start with calm, soft songs and build up till the fourth or fifth song is full of energy and makes me get up.
Then I open my windows completely, there always open a little. Clean up my bed, do some light exercise, take a shower and have a good, healthy breakfast, et voilà, I’m ready to shine.

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Aha, thanks for sharing. Yeah, I have used music too but oftentimes I enjoy the silence in the morning more.

mike brown May 28, 2009 at 11:05 pm

Live by the morning ritual… Starts at 5:30 – alarm goes off – snooze once – go downstairs and stretch – have my cereal – Mother’s Cinnamon Oat Crunch http://mothersnatural.elsstore.com/ – Check my email and tweets and on my way to a productive day at work

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Sounds like a good and early start!

Glen Allsopp May 28, 2009 at 11:31 pm

I really like this idea Henrik. It sounds like your actual morning routine is pretty much how I would imagine my perfect one.

Thanks for the post!

Cheers,
Glen

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Cool, Glen, thanks! Let me know if you try it out and what results you get.

Lisis May 29, 2009 at 12:36 am

Hi, Henrik! I do something very similar. My day has not begun until I’ve had my morning cup of Costa Rican coffee. ;-)

I don’t usually include links in my comments, but I thought you might be interested in my daily ritual as well… since you asked: http://www.questforbalance.com/2009/01/22/simplicity-outline/

I find it simple, predictable and relaxing. =-)

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Sounds like a good ritual, thank you for the link.

Mandrake May 29, 2009 at 1:05 am

Try morning push-ups. I’m no meathead, but I used to this everyday. It got my heart rate up and got me awake quickly (not to mention some much thicker, stronger arms :p )

Self-improvement is a constant, and while we tend to focus more on the mental side of it, there are times when we can improve our physique while also stabilizing ourselves mentally.

Another example is taking an exercise break from work, which has been shown to stimulate your brain, and the work done after these breaks have been shown to be much more effective than those after food breaks.

~Mandrake

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Good point, I might add some brief pushups or other simple exercise.

TheCashGiftingStudent May 29, 2009 at 1:33 am

This was a good post because it is something that has been affecting me personally for some time now. For some reason I tend to stay up all night long getting my business done for my online ventures. However when I wake up late in the afternoon I feel guilty for not waking up early. I know that I am most productive late at night but I want to start waking up earlier in the day so I can feel more productive. I guess I will have to come up with a ritual of my own!

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Well, you can still use a ritual to start your day even if you prefer to stay up at night and sleep longer in the day.

Sarah May 29, 2009 at 2:50 am

I totally understand what you’re saying with some days are great days and some days are off days. Maybe this is what I need to start doing! I have a morning routine, but I wouldn’t say its a ritual.
Some green tea is a good place to start :)
Thanks!
S.

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Yep, the green tea is an awesome start to the day! :)

booga May 29, 2009 at 3:10 am

Thank you. This blog, and this post in particular were pretty much exactly what I needed to read. For about a year I had a morning routine, and I think that was perhaps the most joyful, efficient, successful year of my life!

Tomorrow I’m going back to it. Wake up, drink water, Steam a pound of veggies, pack my lunch, eat veggies, pick out my outfit, jump rope, or short run, shower and get ready, read, then off I go grab coffee and get to work/school.

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Awesome, that sounds like a great start to your day!

mini May 29, 2009 at 9:00 am

i like the idea of a “morning ritual”
and i am sure my morning ritual will start with drinking some water
n going for a walk
i have been thinking about this lately
but this post really motivates me to start with it
thanks

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Excellent, I hope this will help you out.

Pia | Taunaki May 29, 2009 at 10:48 am

I’ve found that getting right to work in the mornings work the best for me. It’s a bit chaotic here with a child in the house, but while she’s having her breakfast and getting ready for school, I set up my computer (small apartment, have to move the screen to the dining table to work) and start by going through the e-mails of the night, answer them, check my LinkedIn discussion forums, write replies and other relaxed social media tasks which is part of my work as well. All this while I get my morning tea and breakfast.

The important part for me is to start a momentum that carries me forward the rest of the day. Once started, it’s easy to continue, so starting while I’m still half asleep works for me. I’ve also found that even if I’m sleepy, my brain tends to be at its sharpest during mornings, so it’s the best time to get serious stuff done.

Being in a momentum of productivity is extremely positive, you feel you accomplish things and it takes your thoughts far away from all the negative that can threaten a good day.

Another thing that’s very important for me is to have planned the evening before what tasks I intend to get done today. If I don’t have some kind of rough plan and an idea of what I want to work on, I end up procrastinating or get distracted by other things.

I think it’s important we all create our own small rituals and routines that prepare us for the day and get us ready. Now it’s time to re-evaluate my own mornings and see how I can make them even better.

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Thank you for the comment! It sounds like a well thought through and effective routine. I agree, getting the ball rolling early in the day – and maybe even planing a bit the night before – carries you forward during the rest of the day.

Vincent May 29, 2009 at 11:07 am

Hi Henrik,

My morning ritual starts with…

1. Washing up
2. Drinking a cup of water
3. Open my door and enjoy the natural scenery and fresh hair.
4. Breakfast
5 A short rest (10mintues)
6. Start work.

Vincent

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Sounds like a simple and effective way to start your day, Vincent!

Positively Present May 29, 2009 at 2:37 pm

I usually start the day the exact same way, which I think is both good and bad. I like the routine, but also it can make it seem very boring. Sometimes I try to spice it up and do something different which always helps.

PS – I tried the hiccup trick yesterday and it worked!!!!!! AMAZING!

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Cool, glad the routine works for you with some spicing up from time to time. And that the hiccup trick worked for you too. :)

Scott May 29, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Great post Henrik, for the past few months I’ve had some light structure for a morning ritual in place, however I think that this needs refining into a more fixed structure, I think I’ll get to work on it tonight :)

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Sounds good, Scott! Good luck.

Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome May 29, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Rather than being consistent about my morning ritual (the idea of which gets my inner teenager all rebellious feeling), I am consistent across my days. I have a whole bunch of things that I choose to do each day and as long as I get most of them done each day I’m happy. When I do them or in what order doesn’t matter in the slightest…

Henrik Edberg May 29, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Yeah, I can get a bit rebellious about my ritual too sometimes. :) I’m hoping to be able to add that flexibility you have later on but for now I think I need my morning ritual to do what needs to be done each day.

N.C./London, UK May 29, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Wake up at 5.45. Put my gym kit on and go to the gym for a spinning class at 7.15 (I live in London and my gym is near work). Drink 500ml of water on the way. Do class, have long shower, get ready for work. Have Very High Fibre Dorset Cereals at my desk whilst reading emails. Update & set task list.

Srinivas Rao May 29, 2009 at 6:51 pm

I think I’ have to add the water and paraliminal to my morning routine. I do Wayne Dyer’s Manifestation meditation. I’m a huge fan of the paraliminals.

Renny May 29, 2009 at 11:23 pm

I take part of this ritual and begin the evening before. Before I go to bed, I have my clothes for the next day laid out, all the dishes done and put away, a lot of the same stuff – except the night before. That way I can start the next day already organized and prepared. I arrive to work an hour early to do a daily motiviation and blog too my employees and friends to get my motor running and think processes started and to give my employees something to get them motiviated and started for their day. I use quotes, a little trivia and some personal insights into what’s going on in the world – after 7 years, about 300 a day now get this. So I totally agree that ritual is important – I just get it started the night before!

Gary Marsden May 30, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Thank you for this post. I may have a morning ritual but have never defined it as such. I mean I have the usual occurances..ie shaking off the fog, starting the coffee and getting in the shower.

But I am totally missing out on a great opportunity to define my day by setting goals and getting myself in the proper state of mind from the onset.

A simple concept that has very positive results. Again..thanks.

Saidely May 30, 2009 at 5:52 pm

thank you Henrik
this is is really works !!

*what you do early in the day often sets the context for your day*

Grampa Ken: 7 Decades c/w potholes May 31, 2009 at 4:16 pm

That’s a nice routine Henrik. Start the day in an organized manner and have an organized day.

Beginning the day with some good thoughts helps too.
Today is only here for today and so I will enjoy it.
Worry is only a worry if I worry about it and I won’t.
I accept myself as I am and others as they are.
Life is healthier as I eat well and exercise regularly.
Frequent stops and peaceful thoughts are soothing.
I will try to give not tak,e and share not hoard.
In all I really have so very much to be thankful for.

Natty Koo June 1, 2009 at 9:10 am

I’ve never actually thought about this! Thanks for bringing this topic up. I just made a routine after reading this post. I think it might be a little too cumbersome & long.

1. wash up
2. stretch
3. breakfast (quick because I rather with my parents or in residence)
4. crunches
5. tidy up
6. copy some chinese

Hanan June 2, 2009 at 6:00 am

My morning ritual starts at 4:45
1- Pray .
2- Make my bed .
3- Make breakfast for my family .
4- Read the holy book for at least 10 minutes .
5- Exercise for 30 minutes .

Thank you for this great post ^_^

John Sherry June 2, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Take your point Henrik but have one addition to add if I may. Some people crave variety over same old same old. Their minds seeks the fresh and different over the tried and tested so they need a new spark all the time. A ritual might be tougher for these types. Agree unequivocally though that you have to start the day the right way; right for you and right for positive momentun for what life brings ahead. Bravo; great insight

Daiyaan June 3, 2009 at 9:15 pm

I would say that exercise is one of the most important things you can do in the morning. Not only does it energize you for the day, it is scientifically proven to balance your emotions (if you do intense cardio that raises the heart rate)
Here’s my morning ritual:
1) Wake up, drink 500ml water before doing anything else
2) Bathroom, brush teeth, neti pot
3) Protein shake (i have to do this to balance my blood sugar levels :)
4) 15 minutes interval training on the cycling machine
5) 10 minutes stretching
6) 5 minutes meditation
7) Shower
8) Well balanced meal

Note: DO NOT TOUCH THE COMPUTER TO CHECK EMAILS DURING YOUR MORNING RITUAL (it ruins it :D )

Keep up the great posts :D

Myles Saulibio June 5, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Dear Henrick,
Wonderful web site you have here…I agree, a morning ritual starts off the day in the right way. I have been doing a similar ritual for several years, no matter where I am (with some changes depending on the situation.) whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, home in Florida, or now near Dubai, I carry my morning ritual written on a list, prioritized, and checked off when completed. I use an acronomy: , which PPSRF stands for Prayer, Planning, Solitude, Reading, Family…not easy but a simple list and 6 to 10 weeks later becomes a positive habit. If find checking each task off sends a rush of adrenalin, having accomplished what I need to do. Now…do you think there should be a night ritual to close the “loop” of positivity?
Keep up the good work.

Aloha and Mahalo,
Myles

FitJerk - Flawless Fitness Blog June 7, 2009 at 3:07 am

Wow, your morning ritual is pretty damn close to mine. Green tea for the win!

One crucial difference… I have a quote written on my white board that faces my bed. I involuntairly see it when I get up stretch. It reads… “Do I Want To Live A Lame Life?”

The impact this has had has been nothing short of “mind-blasting!”

Good article, you have quality stuff here. Cheers.

Rachel Lavern June 7, 2009 at 8:37 pm

Fortunately, I learned the value of a morning routine quite a while ago. I have varied it a little bit over time; however, this is it for now:

1) Arise
2) Express gratitude
3) Review intentions for the day (at least one must be movement towards a goal)
4) Say affirmations out loud
5) Review vision board
6) Devotions
7) Meditation
8) Exercise

Kaizan June 9, 2009 at 10:51 am

Hi Henrik,

I totally agree that a morning ritual is the way that you stay consistent.

The 6 Habits that we came up with (http://www.kaizan.co.uk/blog/2009/05/14/6-habits-to-start-the-day-with/) were:

1. Meditation/ Solitude
2. Exercise / Yoga
3. Review Previous Successes
4. Eat breakfast
5. Be grateful for what you have
6. Plan your day and review your goals

I like your idea of decluttering as part of the ritual.

Ken June 9, 2009 at 7:25 pm

Great points, the way we start our day is so important and it does set the tone for your day.
P.S. Great blog, my first time here.

Nicolas Soergel | An Extra Hour Every Day June 10, 2009 at 9:13 am

Thanks for the good article. I always add a first work session before breakfast. During this session I go through the e-mails that came overnight and plan my day. I often also get one or two tasks from my desk.

This gives me the good feeling of a productive start into the day and I look forward to achieve even more.

sonal tandon June 14, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Hey,
Amazing Article.

Chris June 16, 2009 at 8:45 pm

This is true . . . the time I was happiest in my life i had a morning ritual. I’ll bring it back, I didn’t realize that was the difference maker :)

Immediately after waking, do deep breathing/meditation for 15-20 minutes with an emphasis on waking up, followed by about 15min of basic yoga. Then I eat a breakfast of oatmeal and yogurt, or fried eggs on toast. Then I would dive into my most important work first. Feel awesome for the rest of the day :D

Thanks Henrik!

Alan S June 17, 2009 at 10:37 am

Hi

My daily ritual;

Rise and drink glass of water
Sit quietly and meditate for 15 minutes deep breathing
Gratitude and thanks
Say afirmations aloud
15 minutes of visualisation
Go to park or gym for excercice (alternating ipod listening from great podcasts such as Tony Robbins to music to pump me up)
Home, shower, dress and go get the day!

Mel Lake October 7, 2009 at 11:52 pm

I have a similar sort of morning ritual. I get up in the morning (5:15 am) and the first thing I try to do is smile for 60 minutes. Then after that I put music to play that gets me in the right mood. After that I get dressed and wake up my college mate and do ”tabata sprints” or jogging. After that I take a walk through the park. When I get home I relax with some nice music and a cup of coffee/hot chocolate. This usually last like 30 minutes. I take a shower and then get dressed. After that I prepare my schedule for the day.

Nadabi April 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Thanks for the post! I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now and I’m always excited when I see a new post from here in my RSS reader. I’ve recently adopted a morning routine and feeling great about it! It looks like this:
(0. Set up Morning Peeps for Songbird the night before – usually half an hour before I want to get up.)
1. Sit up in bed as soon as the alarm goes off (usually 7am), made easier as I’ve already been gently nudged to consciousness by my morning playlist. Drink some water from a bottle I keep on my night table.
2. Loo, brush teeth, tell myself I OWN the day and that it’s a good one.
3. Get in my exercise gear and go out for a run (I find early morning best, as I know I’ll just procrastinate and come up with excuses not to go if I leave it till later), followed by some strength training when I get home. Grab a shower, moisturise, get dressed. All of this usually takes up approximately an hour.
4. Breakfast (finally!) Usually porridge, (black) tea, and a fruit of some description (at the moment on an orange kick, mmm…)
5. While breakfasting I check my email and Facebook, log my run and breakfast online (as I’m trying to lose some weight) and complete the day’s activities for a self-help programme I’m doing online. I aim to be done in an hour (that is, by 9am) but more often than not I end up faffing about for longer.
6. Take dishes to the kitchen, make bed, tidy desk and room.

And then? Well, here is the rub. I’m a student and I have very few contact hours in a week, so most days I have stuff to read/write/understand at home. I’m thinking of incorporating this thing of planning my day into my routine, maybe if I create a list of small, concrete steps with deadlines it will be easier to get to work.

All in all, thank you for a great post (and great comments!)

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