I recently asked a friend—
“What’s the most important thing you do everyday?”
“I.. I don’t have any idea”
This was POWERFUL, because I knew exactly what the most valuable thing that I do every single day is—
It’s my morning ritual, my daily success routine.
Over the years, I’ve come up with about 10 or 15 things that I do every single day, habits that I’ve noticed multiply my success and creativity.
I first got this idea from Eben Pagan and Hal Elrod’s book, The Miracle Morning.
I used to wake up and immediately dive into my work. Maybe I’d have breakfast first, but usually not. I’d lay in bed for 30 minutes reading email as soon as my eyes opened and eventually make it to my computer to start hacking away on projects.
I read an article in Fast Company that profiled the “typical day” of a few high-profile business executives. One of the questions asked was— what’s the last thing you do before falling asleep and the first thing you do before waking up?
I’ll spare you a link to the article because the answers were almost universal…
CHECK MY EMAIL
What the hell. That’s a ridiculous way to start a day if you want to be productive. I’m totally guilty too, but just think how ridiculous it sounds..
I want to have a productive day, so I’m going to start by seeing what tasks others have deferred to me.
No thanks. We need to take back our day and start with something better.
Instead of overwhelming you with all of the rituals I’ve amassed over the past year or two, I’m going to share them over a couple of posts. The ritual I’m sharing today is by far my favorite and the most valuable.
I’ve talked about how I’ve written in my journal everyday for the past 1810 days. Besides breathing, journaling is my longest running habit and has been the cornerstone of consistency in my otherwise “by-the-seat-of-pants lifestyle”.
Every morning when I wake up, one of the first things I do is write a quick entry in my journal. I use DayOne to keep my journal, but used Evernote for the first 860 days. The software that you use makes no difference as long as you just start the damn habit.
By the way, the journal entries that I write are usually pretty short. Something like 4-6 sentences talking about major highlights from the past day. If I want to write more, I do, but don’t force myself to write a certain amount. Once and awhile I’ll write a longer form entry, but usually they’re pretty short — but VERY valuable. Having an archive of your life that you can look back on is incredible.
This is a “jedi master” habit that I picked up from James Altucher (How to become an idea machine). I have a dedicated idea notebook that I keep on my desk. Every morning I pick a topic and throw down a handful of ideas.
Most of my ideas are shit, but it doesn’t matter— it’s like doing deadlifts with your mind. The point is to work out your idea muscle and make it stronger, to loosen up your creativity for the rest of the day.
It sounds easy but it’s actually pretty hard to come up with 10 less-than-awful ideas when you limit yourself to a single subject. Once and awhile you come up with a good one. It’s actually how I came up with doing Office Hours, which has added a ton of value to peoples lives.
You already have a ton of awesome ideas kicking around in your head, you just need to find ‘em.
If you’re the type of person that says, “Oh, I’m just not the creative type”… you really need this. Your idea muscle is weak.
I’ll be upfront.. this is the hardest one to do. But it’s so fucking worth it.
I open up my favorite writing app, Ulysses, and crank out 1000 words every morning. The topic doesn’t matter. I’ve written everything from serious blog posts to short stories about my cat. I usually don’t have a planned topic and 90% of the writing never makes it anywhere. You can even write a rap if you want.
Doing something with what you write isn’t the point.
I used to be scared of writing, even after having a bunch of successful articles. I’d feel a TON of resistance before writing because there was so much pressure to make every article a grand slam. So I’d hardly ever write. Fear won.
Turning Pro taught me about being “a professional”, about practicing and consistently honing your craft. Think of your daily writing ritual as practice. It’s your warmup for the day and relieves some of the pressure.
What you’re training yourself to do is to write so much that it becomes EASY.. natural. It’s just something you do. What I notice is that it’s way easier for me to write high quality content after I get those first 1000 words out of the way. It’s like you’re clearing out all of the cobwebs and junk so that the good stuff can flow.
Step 1: Get out of bed early
Step 2: Drink a tall glass of water
Step 3: Do 1/10/1000
I’ll share 10 other morning rituals with you over the coming days, but for now, this is all that you need to get started with a kick ass morning.
Don’t check email until you’re done, damnit! Put your own success first.
PS— Wake up early. Winners don’t get up at 11am. This is coming from the biggest night owl, the guy that loves staying up til 4am. I win disproportionately more when I’m up at 5am. I’ll share more techniques on becoming an early riser in a future post.