A 9-Step Framework for Creating a Morning Ritual

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Rituals are the secret to productivity and working more effectively. After all there's a certain magic to them.

They can put the various minutiae of your life on autopilot, so that you can use your brainpower to focus on what’s important: creativity and solving problems.

Advice on what to include in rituals and routines is robust, but a framework is needed for their implementation. After studying and experimenting with productivity and effectiveness for years, I’ve put together one such framework for a morning routine. Use it to create the perfect, customized morning ritual that will work for you and be sustainable.   

Many most popular artists, writers, entrepreneurs and masters have relied on a specific set of rituals. Study the person you look up to most and learn about his or her daily rituals. Consider these steps:

Related: It Only Takes Five Minutes to Become a Morning Person

1. Identify a leverage point.

Identify the highest leverage action in your life, the big domino piece that makes everything else fall into place. Structure your ritual around making sure this one action absolutely happens.

For example, it might be waking up by 6 a.m. and meditating 20 minutes. Or perhaps you rely on a jog or yoga routine. Whatever it is, identify it and place utmost importance on completing this task each day. 

2. Put the big domino first.

Once you’ve identified your highest leverage action from Step 1, make it one of the first things you do each morning. Your ritual should be based on supporting this new habit.  

3. Write things down. 

Have some fun with this and feel free to be creative. Use a piece of paper, create a simple document or just keep a habit checklist in the app.

4. Begin with just three actions.

You already know what the most important piece of your ritual. Now just add two more items to the list of things you must do every single day. 

5. Start simple and make it easy to succeed.

Flossing a tooth could be offered as example of a simple ritual. I think that’s too simplistic, but the point is to begin with a simple routine to ensure success. 

Related: How to Become More of a Morning Person (Infographic)

6. Give it time. 

While some subscribe to the notion that a habit takes 21 days to form, that may be a myth. Psychologist Jeremy Dean has found it could take 66 days to build a habit.  

And a study by Phillippa Lally concluded, “The time it took participants to reach 95% of their asymptote of automaticity ranged from 18 to 254 days.” The truth is, people are different. Some individuals need no time at all and others may need more.

7. Nail it, then add new habits. 

Once you master a routine, add on new habits to make your ritual more robust. 

8. Be open to change.

Your rituals shouldn't be set in stone. Be open to adjusting and adapting your plan along the way as part of a dynamic process. Add a weekly review and planning ritual, a productivity secret of successful entrepreneurs. 

After a while, you may find that you actually don't like yoga or jogging. You may discover how great you feel after drinking vegetable smoothies. Keeping your process dynamic means letting your ritual continuously evolve, which can be a good thing. 

9. Don’t be discouraged by slipups.

Your ritual will give you power. The act of having a routine will become an addiction and at times you may feel superhuman because of it.

At other times you may feel lost after missing a step or neglecting your ritual. Stay strong, don’t beat yourself up and step back into it. Building a ritual is like building a muscle. All it takes is doing the workout again to revitalize the habit.  

I suggest committing to performing the new ritual for at least 66 days. Make it a challenge. Ask a friend to help with accountability and use a positive or negative reinforcement technique to make the ritual stick. For example, treat yourself to something you’ve wanted once you complete the challenge.

As a bonus, use the extra momentum to work more effectively. You can become more productive throughout the day by making tiny changes in a multiplicity of ways.  

Below is an outline of my personal routine:

Wake up at 6 a.m.

Hydrate by drinking a massive glass of water immediately.

Exercise with a 20-minute jog or a quick workout at home.

Take notes (do a brain dump) and plan the day.

Take a cold shower.

Perform a gratitude exercise.

Meditate for 20 minutes.

For breakfast, drink a green vegetable smoothie or juice and make coffee

Spend time learning for 30 minutes by reading a book, catching up on articles or listening to an audio program.

Then I work on the most important task of the day (for highest leverage).

Will you create a morning ritual now? If you already have one, what’s in your routine?

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