Have you ever wondered why some days flow smoothly while others feel like a never-ending struggle? The secret to a successful day might lie in your morning routine.
Whether you're a student, an athlete, or someone trying to make the most of life, crafting a solid morning routine can be your superpower.
So why does a well-structured morning routine matter? What are the benefits? And how do you even get started?
When it comes to understanding the benefits of a good routine, Toby, Top Blokes Youth Worker and mentor is your man! He’s so convinced by the power of a good morning routine he's given us the 'routine practice lowdown' plus some simple and practical ideas to help you get started.
The essence of morning routines
"Routines provide consistency and set the pace for a productive day," says Toby. "It's one of our Top Blokes 'Big 6' things that help lay the foundation for strong mental health."
Toby explored three distinct morning routines tailored to different preferences, time constraints, and lifestyles.
Routine one: The 3 M's for self-care
Toby delved into a routine developed by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, focusing on the 3 M's: Mindfulness, Movement, and Mindset.
Mindfulness: Start with calming activities like deep breathing, meditation, or spending time in nature.
Movement: Wake up your body with light exercises such as skipping, walking, or yoga.
Mindset: Cultivate a positive mindset through gratitude, affirmations, or meditation.
"I liked this routine because it's flexible," Toby explains. "Some days, I'd spend just 5 minutes on each 'M', while other days, I'd dig deeper. It's a great way to ease into the practice of routines."
The 3 M’s for self-care are convenient and time-effective. “Some mornings if I was pressed for time, I’d do the M for movement while making my smoothie. Or I might practice M for mindset by talking with my family and practising gratitude.”
Adds Toby, “If I wake up late or need to get out somewhere fast, this is the easiest one to fit into my day.”
Dr. Chatterjee believes that following familiar steps in the morning creates a sense of safety and control, setting the stage for a thriving day.
Routine Two: T.I.M.E
"I used the T.I.M.E routine for over a year, and I loved how it started my day," says Toby.
This routine, inspired by Jay Shetty's book 'Think Like a Monk,' incorporates four key aspects: Thankfulness, Insight, Meditation, and Exercise (T.I.M.E).
Thankfulness: Begin your day with gratitude, whether through thoughts, writing, or sharing.
Insight: Gain wisdom by reading a book, listening to a podcast, or catching up on the news.
Meditation: Spend 15 minutes alone practising deep breathing, visualisation, or meditation.
Exercise: Engage in physical activity, whether it's stretching or a quick 15-minute workout.
Toby notes that this routine can take as little as 10-20 minutes or up to an hour, offering a holistic approach that nurtures both the mind and body.
“You can make the four components as long or as short as you like. You can choose what you will be thankful for, what your insight will be, the meditation or the type of exercise," says Toby.
"Adding the 'I' of insight into your routine helps you learn something new. It's a way to expand your knowledge, which will help you deal with any challenges ahead so you don’t get caught up in the emotion of it all,” Toby explains.
Routine Three: 20/20/20 from 'The 5AM Club'
Toby adopted the 20/20/20 routine from Robin Sharma's book 'The 5AM Club,' which comprises three 20-minute segments or pockets of activity.
Pocket #1 Move: Intense exercise to boost focus, productivity, and well-being.
Pocket #2 Reflect: Journaling, meditation, and planning for enhanced awareness and positivity.
Pocket #3 Grow: Goal setting, reading, listening, and learning to accelerate personal growth.
"This routine is more specific and structured," Toby explains. "I enjoy the discipline it provides. It has all the same practices as the others, just in a more structured order."
This is a more vigorous routine and one to lean into once you have established and stuck to a routine for a while. The challenge for any teenage boy is waking up at 5AM but you can always adapt the time to suit you.
"Although there is evidence to show that 5AM is the optimal time, nothing is stopping you from finding a time that suits you," adds Toby.
How to get your morning routine on
Toby recommends starting with the 3M’s as this routine can be done pretty quickly and will give you a solid foundation for building or growing into a routine structure. “You can do this in a short amount of time. And like any good practice, the longer you do it for the more you’ll get used to it and the more familiar it will be. Then you’ll really start seeing the benefits,” says Toby.
And there are always ways that you can weave 3M’s, or T.I.M.E or the 5AM club into your day. For example:
Be thankful: Each day write down three things you are grateful for or write down three things that went well yesterday.
Insight: Listen to a 5 minute podcast whilst you’re taking a shower or you're on the bus to school.
Mediation: Do a two-minute breathing exercise. In our Top Blokes program, we talk about some of the benefits of breathing exercises like box breathing or breathing in for a count of four, hold for four and out for five.
Mindset: Give yourself a mental challenge. Toby likes to blast out the cold water during his shower routine and withstand the cold for at least 5 minutes.
Exercise: Drop and give me 20! Do a quick round of 20 push ups and 20 squats
The benefits of morning routines
Toby's insights showcase the numerous benefits of embracing morning routines, regardless of which one you choose:
Positive Mindset: Morning routines encourage gratitude, positivity, and mindful thinking, setting a positive tone for the day.
Enhanced Wellbeing: Engaging in exercise and meditation fosters physical and mental well-being.
Productivity Boost: Routines enhance focus, productivity, and goal setting, facilitating personal growth and success.
As Ryan Holiday, author of the book The Daily Stoic puts it, “Many successful people have a morning ritual. For some, it’s meditation. For others, it’s exercise. For many, it’s journalling – just a few pages where they write down their thoughts, fears, hopes. In these cases, the point is not so much the activity itself as the ritualised reflection. The idea is to take some time to look inward and examine.”
Toby sums it up perfectly, “A daily routine tells your system you are in control. You are in a place of safety.”
Remember, how you start each morning can set the tone for the rest of your day. Embrace the power of routines, and you'll discover the impact of consistency, positivity, and self-care in your life.
It's time to rise and shine with purpose – your mornings matter!
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