Updated: Jan 19
I hear it all the time. "You should try this during your morning ritual." Great! Well, if there is time blocked for experimentation, it's not a ritual is it?
If there is one key factor in high level productivity, it's customization. You have to be able to do what works for you. Waking up at 4AM, as prescribed, may not be of any benefit to you. In fact, it could be a detriment. You have to find your time & use it in a manner that works for you.
Here are 3 ways that I honed into my magic formula for high level productivity.
1. Find out how much sleep your body needs a night.
This is NOT how much "they" say you should have, but how much do you actually need. The way I did this, and I'm not a sleep specialist, is that I stopped setting alarms. I took data of how long I naturally slept each night for about a month. I removed all the nights that were not normal nights. The night my wife & I went to the party was not a normal night of sleep. That information was not useful to me. I had some wine & that impacts my sleep patterns. I only measured the typical nights.
What I learned was that I need 6 hours of sleep each night to operate on a high level. My body naturally wakes up after six hours. Vital information.
Now that I know I need 6 hours, which 6 hours do I want to sleep? We all have 24 hours so we can choose the time block that we are going to sleep if we know how much we need. I chose 10PM to 4AM. Meaning, my bedtime is established at 10PM & I schedule my wake-up at 4AM. I'll stop you right there. I don't care what time you wake up. It's not about when you wake up, but when you went to sleep. I don't use an alarm clock, I just know that my body will wake up at 4AM if I got to sleep by 10PM the night before. This allows me to schedule the rest of the day with purpose & confidence.
2. The guru doesn't know you.
The morning can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For some, it's the only quiet time of the day & for others it's the time to work out. It doesn't matter if you wake up at 4AM or 8AM, what do you need first thing in your morning that will set good intention for your day? Meditation? Prayer? Exercise? What could you do that would make you feel great about the choice to have your morning ritual?
Busy parents, like me, may just want to take an hour of time that allows us to do whatever we want. That's what I do. I have a list of things that I enjoy doing between 4AM & 7AM that really start my day. I meditate, go to hot spin class, listen to podcasts, create content, write & check up on social media. 3 hours of that to start my day in no particular order. Now, hot spin is at 5:30AM so I have to be there for that, but everything else is when I want to do it. Honestly, somedays, I don't do everything. That's okay. It's MY ritual. I choose. I give myself grace to decide.
The guru doesn't know what you need on any given day so the blanket prescription of what works may be counterproductive for your lifestyle. Find your path & stick to it.
3. Don't let the ritual rule your life.
If my body needs 8 hours of sleep for whatever reason, it gets it. Maybe not right away, but it finds a way. We tend to force ourselves to keep the ritual & sacrifice our focus. The whole point of the morning ritual is to get into a good state of mind & focus on your day. We lose that & put the importance on just getting up super early. As if just being awake makese us highly productive.
A tired mind is what will cause you to leave 40% of your capabilities on the table. Find your sweet spot & hone in on why it's important. This is why I don't set alarms. I listen to my body, my mind & my wife.
That was a slight joke, but there is always a little truth in jest wouldn't you agree?
The big secret to an effective morning ritual is to make it YOUR morning ritual. Accept guidance from people who use theirs with success, but understand there is no rule book to making yours work for you. Find what serves you best & stop comparing that to what works for someone else. Results are about what YOU do, not what they do.