#101: My New Morning Productivity Routine [Podcast]

I believe the way you start your day determines how it will end; productive and happy, or frustrated and fruitless.  That's why I put so much focus on my morning routine,  which is the foundation of my personal “Productivity Protocol”.  My morning routine is an intentional set of activities designed to set me up for the best possible day. With the right routine in place, I believe we can make our best days better, and perhaps even salvage what might have been a “bad day.”

Bronze vintage alarm clock

If you are familiar with my work, I have written about this before. But my routine has changed , and I have refined my process. On today's show, I will pull back the curtain on my newly re-engineered morning routine. Also coming up…

  • The Post-It Note ToDo System.
  • Stu McLaren returns.
  • A super-simple copy outline.
  • Now let's get on with it…


Conferences where I will be attending and/or speaking:

Tip Of The Week 

The Post-It Note Planning System.

Lifestyle Business Segment 

With Stu McLaren

Copywriting Corner

This week I share a “super simple copywriting outline”. It goes like this:

  1. Headline: How to Get the Thing You Want, In Three Easy Steps
  2. Here's the problem, and what happens if you don't solve it…
  3. I solved the problem, and here's how…
  4. Who the heck am I, and why should you believe me?
  5. Introducing my Fancy New Problem-Solving System
  6. It's worked for me, for my other customers, and it will work for you…
  7. Here's exactly what you get
  8. How much it costs, and why it's worth 10 times more
  9. I will take all the risk
  10. Here's exactly what to do now

Sure, there are lots of nuances to writing great copy. But this basic outline will help you quickly write a sales message. I flesh out the process and explain how to use the outline on today's show.

Spiritual Foundations

I have been accused of being a “hyper grace teacher”. According to this accusation, I have overemphasized the importance of the grace of Jesus Christ at the expense of his Lordship. Of course, I vehemently disagree with this criticism.

I recently had a discussion about this for a topic with my friend Frank Viola, and I asked him if he would be willing to join us on the show so we could talk about the controversy over so-called “greasy grace”. To hear this fascinating interview, you'll need to listen to the audio of this week's show.

You can find the course Frank mentioned by clicking here.

Feature Segment: Create A Morning Routine That Sets You Up For Success

The purpose of creating an intentional morning routine is to develop an habitual set of activities to start each day. The way you start the day sets the tone for the way you will finish out the rest of the day. A good routine in the morning will give you momentum for the rest the day, that increases the likelihood for productivity and success.

My own routine has gone through considerable evolution over the last few years. Recently, I found my previous routine had become stale and somewhat out of alignment with my current priorities. So I've decided to reengineer it. This new routine will also undoubtedly evolve over time, but this is what I'm doing now, and what seems to be working for me.

  1. Get up early. I don't use an alarm clock, but I tend to naturally awaken between 4 and 5 AM. Most days, my day starts at 5 AM.
  2. Drink 24 ounces of water. Most of us live in a constant state of mild dehydration. This is bad for your body, and bad for your brain. I intentionally hydrate first thing in the morning. Especially considering the next part of my routine…
  3. Drink a cup of Bulletproof Coffee.  This is a blend of organic coffee, high quality MCT oil, and butter, blended into a delightful, flavorful, and creamy beverage. It tastes better than a latte, and  supports the healthy functioning of your brain.  there is a great deal of research about the benefits of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), especially for preventing or alleviating the symptoms of conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. The best part, though, is that drinking Bulletproof Coffee gives me a great jolt of energy and mental clarity and focus.
  4. Prayer and mindfulness. This is where, in the words of Brother Lawrence, I “practice the presence” of Jesus. I'm listening for what he has to say to me today.
  5. Execute the Morning Reading Process. I'm currently reading nine books simultaneously, and I have written about this process recently. If you'd like to know more about how I managed to read as many as 40 books in a week, refer to this post. Quickly, though, I start by reading the Bible, then a devotional, and follow that up with some kind of theological work. Then I read a chapter in each of the other books I'm currently working through.
  6.  Write in my journal. I use the journaling app Day One, a template for each station journal entry that I adapted from one Michael Hyatt wrote about his blog, and usually spend only about 15 minutes journaling. The template is key. Before, whenever I attempted to Journal, I felt as though it was some sort of “artsy crafty” thing and really couldn't get into it. Having a template gives me an intentional set of data and/or thoughts that I want to record each day, and makes the journaling process as easy as filling in the blanks. It also means that later in life, when I refer back to this journal, it will have context and meaning.
  7. Plan my day. I still plan my day the night before. Planning tomorrow is the last activity I will do today. However, I have found it is extremely useful to review that plan at this step in my morning routine. I often end up changing the plan, because I have a fresh perspective on the day. While I am a big proponent of David Allen's GTD methodology, I'm afraid I still use a daily task list. I know GTD devotees will be disappointed to hear this, but this is what works for me. Years ago, I learned the “6 Most Important Things” to-do list method from Earl Nightingale (if memory serves correctly.) Robert Plank and Lance Tamashiro teach a system they call “4 Daily Tasks”, which I think is a better refinement of Nightingale's original idea. I simply make a list of “5 Things”. Each day, I have 5 things I want to accomplish, no matter what else happens. I start with number 1 and don't work on anything else until that is done. Then I move to number 2, and so on until I get to number 5. Once I've completed number 5, I am free to do whatever I want for the rest of the day. The key to making the system work is to make sure that they really are 5 “things”, and not 5 “projects”.
  8. Exercise.  By this time it is around 8 AM. At least four days out of the week, but ideally seven, I either go to the gym or hit the road for 40 minutes of physical exercise. It's good for your body,  it's good for your brain, and it's good for your emotional well-being. If I don't do it at this point in my day, it becomes much less likely that I will do it at all.
  9. Start working on my “5 Things.” Once upon a time, I wrote my 5 Things on a whiteboard, and at the end of the day would take a photo with my iPhone of the 5 Things crossed out. These days I use the Post-it note system I described in the Tip of the Week. I admit that I still cross off the items… but I don't take a picture. I just throw the Post-Its away.
  10.  Stop working at 3 PM. This is more of a goal than it is a reality as of this writing. This represents a big change in my modus operandi. But having a hard stop at the end of the day, and making it this early, give me the freedom to engage in other activities that are important to me that otherwise get shortchanged by work.

That's my morning routine, and how transitions into the rest of my productivity protocol for the day. It's a new revision, I just started working this routine, and I will update you let you know how it's going somewhere down the line (if you're interested.)

What To Do Now

If you enjoy the podcast, I would consider it a great favor if you subscribe (and leave a review) in iTunes. This helps new people discover the show. You can also find the podcast on Stitcher.

Question:   What is your morning routine, and is it time to reengineer it? Click here to leave your comments.

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Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.