"We are what we repeatedly do, excellence, then is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
It's common knowledge that one of the secrets to success is daily routine.
What do highly successful athletes and entrepreneurs do in their day that means they appear to achieve their goals so effortlessly? We’ve all been given the same 24 hours in a day. That means people who run multiple businesses, elite athletes, charity founders and people who actually affect real world change– have the exact same amount of time at their disposal that you and I do.
So how do these high performers fit it all in? They have – each in their own way – mastered the art of the daily routine – they know the habits and behaviours that set them up for success, and repeat these time and time again. Although there is no single best routine—the best routine is the one that works for you—however, learning from others is still instructive.
Creating a daily routine ensures that each day is well spent, including all helpful and healthy lifestyle habits.
Take a moment and think about what your ideal day looks like in terms of your routine? How would you ideally like to spend your time? I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I know most people I work with would like to:
Now take a moment and think about today.
Win the Morning, Win the Day.
Create a winning morning routine and set yourself up for success with my three steps to creating a winning morning routine:
Sleep is one of the most important elements to performance, and best of all it’s free. It’s estimated that in the UK 1 in 3 of us is ‘chronically’ sleep deprived – and we’re consistently not getting the minimum recommended amount of eight hours per night. Not just eight hours ‘in bed’ – but eight hours asleep. If you like to read when you head to bed, or listen to music, and need a bit of time to wake up slowly in the morning - perhaps you need to be in bed for nine hours.
One way to try it is to cut off a few minutes from the evening and give yourself more time in the morning. If you normally go to bed at 10:30pm and wake up at 6am, try getting to bed at 10pm instead. Just 30 minutes extra can make all the difference to how you feel and perform throughout the day. If you’re a parent, a morning routine is often most successful before your kids get up.
There are lots of suggestions out there for what to include in your morning routine - but to make this time valuable for you, you need to decide what’s important for your day. A good way to do this, think about a day you had recently, where everything went well, you felt energised and focussed and you felt really productive.
Now think about what you did to set that up – can you remember how you slept the night before? Did you get out an exercise first thing? What did you eat that day? Remember that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel – know what’s worked for you in the past, bring that to the front of your consciousness and build on that.
Activities commonly included in the morning routines of high performers include:
- Meditation / Mindfulness
- Stretching / yoga
- Healthy eating
Accept that we are all a work in progress. Rather than creating a brand-new routine of 10 new practises – why not just start by introducing one? Perhaps it’s just about getting 30 minutes more sleep to begin with – work out what this looks like, what needs to change for you to make this happen, commit to it for a week and then review.
Then might be the time to add in some exercise perhaps three mornings per week – a short walk or jog, or just some stretching in the garden. Try that for a week before adding in something else. The best way to introduce new behaviours is to do it gradually – set yourself up to succeed and pay attention to the differences you’re noticing.
Habits, on average take around 66 days to form, so within this time you’ll have to make an effort to commit to your routine and remind yourself to do it. Pin up a note in your house to remind yourself to do it – or set an alarm on your phone to prompt you. Sometime you’ll nail it, and sometimes I’m sure you’ll forget completely. Go easy on yourself, and if you forget, start afresh the next morning.
Most high performers – in sport or business will have a morning routine they know sets them up for the day in the best way possible.
Different things work for different people – so learn from others and craft your own routine and use the three steps mentioned above to start to create YOUR ideal routine!