Several weeks ago, I started feeling frustrated by how little I was managing to accomplish in my day. Work and creating blog content seemed to fill up all of my time, and, much as I love blogging, I wanted room for more. I wanted space in my schedule to work on other creative pursuits, like the embroidery I love to do but have set aside for far too long. I wanted to be able to take the time to read some photography books and slowly start to improve my own skills. Most importantly, perhaps, I also realised I needed time where I could simply sit and think and properly plan out ideas. I wrote down a list of problems (do any of these resonate with you?):
1/ I didn’t get enough ‘switch off’ time in the evenings where I stepped away from technology before bed. I’m a poor sleeper, so I was concerned that spending too long staring at my computer or iphone was disrupting my sleep. I also just didn’t want to be that person who’s forever checking their phone.
2/ Even though I was spending a long time in the evenings working on a laptop, I didn’t get a lot accomplished in that time. Writing a blog post would take forever because I was often tired after a long day at work and more easily distracted (e.g. by a TV show).
3/ Too often, my exercise routine would be set aside in favour of something else I ‘had’ to do in the evenings.
4/ I was frustrated by having lots of ideas for future projects I’d like to accomplish, but had no idea how I could fit even more into my day. My problem has never been a lack of ideas, but always a lack of time.
In reading over my list, I thought how closely the feeling of success is linked to time management and the ability to work as efficiently as possible, in a way that feels energising and productive, rather than tedious and stressful. There is also, clearly, no room to be lazy! Reluctantly (because who really wants to get up at 5am?), I had to admit that the only part of the day I could create more quality time would be in the mornings. Just as I’d come to this decision, I happened to listen to Jess Lively’s podcast with Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, and I knew I was destined to become an early riser!
In The Miracle Morning, Elrod identifies key habits that are common amongst productive, happy people, the most fundamental of which is: getting up early. Based on his findings, he created a morning routine that incorporates the habits and disciplines of the most successful. Put simply, the ‘miracle morning’ routine involves: meditation, affirmations, visualisation, writing, reading and exercise. One of the things I love most about The Miracle Morning is how flexible it is: you can do it for a whole hour, or for 6 minutes or anywhere in between. You can also swap things around to do what ever order works the best for you (I always like to start with meditation and end with exercise). I’ve adapted it to suit me best, and I thought I’d share my routine and thoughts on each process with you:
5:00 – 5:10. Get up, make bed, drink a glass of water, sit on couch and meditate. I thought I would hate meditation, but in fact I love it! I focus on taking deep breaths, listening to the birds and enjoying the stillness.
5:10 – 5:15. Visualisation. This is the hardest for me, as I get side-tracked easily. Just as I start thinking out how I want my day to go, I start wondering what I’m going to wear, whether I’ve done my laundry and oh no! I forgot to make my packed lunch.
5:15 – 5:20. Reading affirmations out loud. I’ve generally been a bit suspicious of affirmations that run along the lines of ‘I am a caring and beautiful person who only attracts incredible people, things and thoughts into my life.’ Fortunately, though, Elrod encourages practical, precise affirmations rather than vague assertions. So, for instance: “I am committed to my goal of feeling confident in handling my camera in manual mode by practicing for x amount of time each day and reading my camera book / manual for x amount of time each week.”
5:20 – 5:25. Journalling. I use the 5 Minute Journal App to do this. I love this app because it is so straight forward and is great way to keep on track with your goals each day. Every morning, you are asked to write 3 things for which you are grateful (you know how I love a gratitude list); 3 things that would make your day great and a daily affirmation. If this isn’t your cup of tea though, then I’d suggest using the time to write whatever you want: work on your novel, write a blog post, or use the time to connect to those important to you. Send cards and postcards to friends, or get in the habit of writing a quick, daily email to someone special.
5:25 – 5:30. Reading. This reading time is designed for reading a book that is connected to your self-development. I have 3 such books on the go at the moment (I select whichever I’m in the mood for each day): a book on embroidery; a photography manual and a book on increasing productivity.
5:30 – 6:00. Exercise. I choose to do a longer period of exercise in the morning, because then I know that I’ve at least done one good workout for the day.
After 6am, I shower, get dressed, eat and work on blog posts before leaving for work at 7.45.
You’re probably thinking: ‘ok, Miranda is crazy, there is no way I would voluntarily choose to put myself through the unbearable torture of getting up at 5am everyday.’ Honestly, though, I was dreading my first 5am wake-up, I ended up LOVING it. I can’t tell you how great it feels to have accomplished so much and to have taken active steps towards achieving my goals before 6am. What makes waking up early in this way so special, is that you’re only doing it for you. This is your time. Your own personal goals and desires are likely to be different from mine: you probably don’t want to read a photography manual or do a ballet workout, but having the time in the mornings to think through what actually matters to you and what you want to improve, is life-changing. Perhaps you want to teach yourself a language, or how to design websites? Maybe you’re dissatisfied with your job, but never have time to hunt through job listings, write applications, or decide what you really want to do? Giving yourself that time in the morning is granting yourself the luxury to do only what furthers your personal dreams and desires. Since starting the Miracle Morning, and completing the 30 Day Challenge, I’ve been so inspired by fresh ideas for projects I want to undertake, now and in the future. I want to live as full a life as possible, and my morning routine is certainly helping me to do just that.
The Miracle Morning has become a way of life for me now, which is why I wanted to share it with all of you. I’d love to hear if you’re tempted to try it yourself, or something similar, and what personal projects you would love to develop. If you had the time, what would you love to do most? What would you set about learning or improving? What’s that project you always wish you’d completed? Please do share in the comments below, or feel free to email me. Do get in touch if you’d like to hear more about my Miracle Morning experience, or have any questions about it – I’d love to help! As part of my Miracle Morning Challenge, I connected with a ‘buddy’ through the supportive facebook group, and it was great to have someone else to message about the experience (and to know I wasn’t the only one finding visualisation hard!), so I’m definitely here to help if you get stuck.
++You can read more about The Miracle Morning (and get the first 2 chapters of the book for free) on Hal Elrod’s website, ask to join the facebook community here, listen to the amazing podcast or read the book. ++