Getting up before dawn to start the day with meditation, journaling, yoga and Tai Chi, would help you get more done that day. Does such an extensive morning routine work?
In Miracle Morning, which has sold two million copies since 2012, self-proclaimed success coach Hal Elrod writes that starting the day with a set of habits leads to a productive day.
What do you think you should ideally do every morning? Meditate, visualize your goals, move, read in a self-help book and write in your diary.
Although there is no scientific evidence for such an extensive morning routine, it is not quite hot air. For example, Yale University concluded in 2011 that meditation reduces worrying. And exercise is not only good for the body, but also for the mind, says John Ratey, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, in his book SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.
In fact, he says exercise is the best defence against depression, ADHD, addiction and Alzheimer’s.
Of course, you can also meditate or exercise at another time. What’s so magical about the morning? Benjamin Spall, a journalist for The New York Times, interviewed 300 successful people about it.
He bundled the stories in My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired.
According to Spall, most successful people take time in the morning to do something that relaxes, energizes and motivates them. The routine gave them more peace of mind, structure in their lives and the idea that they had control over the day.
Mark Tigchelaar, psychologist and writer of Focus on/off, is not in favour of an extensive morning routine. However, a short one can make your life easier, he thinks. If you eat the same breakfast every day, you don’t have to think about this anymore, and you have space in your head. Tigchelaar: “You then have more brain capacity for other things.”
An overly elaborate routine can actually backfire. “All those parts are really good in themselves. But there’s a danger that you’ll put it on yourself and feel guilty if you don’t manage to complete the whole routine. So keep it simple.”
You can start with one element if you wish. Behavioural change is easiest if you do it in small steps. Tiny habits, such as B.J. Fogg, a social scientist at Stanford University, calls it. Start with one push-up after standing up. Tigchelaar: “The greater the behavioural change you want, the more motivation you need to achieve it. A tiny habit takes little effort, while the effect can be significant.”
An extensive routine also means getting up earlier. The fact that you sleep less is not such a problem, according to Elrod. Tigchelaar does not agree and argues for sufficient hours of sleep. “When it comes to productivity, sleep is far more effective than any routine.”
What steps should I take to embed my daily Tai Chi practise into my everyday life?
1. Decide when you want to perform the exercises. It will be different for everyone. I had decided to get up 10 minutes earlier in the morning to do one Tai Chi relaxation exercise on my terrace, weather permitting. Start with a small step, as Tigchelaar pointed out.
2. Do you have the time? Fine, then look for a habit you have that you are performing at that moment. That can be anything: brushing your teeth, putting the car in the garage, etc. In my case, this was my daily morning routine to drink a glass of water with lemon.
3. Then, you decide to start your Tai Chi exercise right after your existing routine. In my case, I now drink my glass of water and go out to the terrace and do my exercise.
The coupling of both routines is successful when I do my Tai Chi exercise in the morning and only then think about drinking my glass of water 😊