Episode 37: 10 Simple Ways To Optimise Your Morning Routine

EPISODE 37 10 Simple Ways To Optimise Your Morning Routine

It’s no secret I’m a BIG fan of morning routines. Since I’ve already written a few blog posts about what to do in the morning, I thought it was time I talk about how to do it.

The reality is that a morning routine doesn’t need to be elaborate to have a huge impact on your productivity and your willpower. There are simple changes you can make to your current morning routine (no matter what it is) that will help you get more out of each day. And I’m sharing them with you in this episode.

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Today I'm going to be sharing 10 Ways To Optimize Your Morning Routine. I love talking about morning routines and I realized I haven't actually done a podcast episode on them, so I thought I would share ten things you can do to really make the most of the time that you have in the morning.


Hi, and welcome to Episode 37 of The Smart Twenties Podcast. This is a podcast where I share personal growth and life advice for women in their twenties.

My name is Sam Laura Brown, and today I’m going to be sharing 10 Ways To Optimize Your Morning Routine. I love talking about morning routines and I realized I haven’t actually done a podcast episode on them, so I thought I would share ten things you can do to really make the most of the time that you have in the morning.

This doesn’t necessarily involve waking up early or doing anything super complicated. These are just tips that will help you tweak what you’re already doing so that you can set the tone for the day. I think morning routines are one of the most powerful ways to set yourself up for a successful and productive day. And I find that when I’ve really honed my morning routine and it’s really working for me, I make better decisions at the end of the day as well as throughout the day because I’m not fatigued from making so many little decisions first thing in the morning. So, I’m not actually going to be talking about different activities that you can do as part of a morning routine. I’ve written a blog post on them before and I will link them in the show notes which will be at smart-twenties.com/episode37. So I’m just going to be, as I said, showing little things that you can do to really make the most of your morning.

So, the first thing to do is waking up on your alarm. And this doesn’t involve waking up early. I’m not talking about setting an early alarm and waking up on it. I’m really just talking about waking up on your alarm, even if your alarm is going off at midday. It doesn’t matter when you have set your alarm. The important thing is that you follow through with it and the reason that this is so important is because it means that you can start your day actually having followed through with a plan that you made with yourself.

And that is so, so powerful and often if you’re not waking up on your alarm if you have an alarm and your snoozing it, you’re already negotiating on your plan and you’re already backing away from the intention that you set for yourself the very first thing that you’re doing in your day and it’s not a great way to start. And what I like to do as well, with this is to make sure that when I’m setting my alarm, I’m setting it responsibly so if I’m going to bed at midnight and I’m setting my alarm for 5 AM, I like to think, “Well, am I going to be snoozing my alarm at  5 AM” especially if I’m waking up, but I am not for an external commitment, but for a commitment to myself.

I like to think ahead and think, “Well, am I going to be super tired on only five hours of sleep” and then I change my alarm to say 6 AM, or whenever, I can change it to instead of thinking, “Oh I’m going to do my best to wake up at 5. Even though… often we have a feeling of whether or not we’re going to follow through with our plan and we’re making it. And you might find yourself setting alarms for yourself that you already kind of so that you don’t have the plan to follow through with it if that’s the case, just not set in your alarm for a time that you know you will follow through, say for example, if you set your alarm for 6, but you snooze it till 7 start setting your alarm for 7 AM and then wake up at 7 am.

I know that we like to have these really good intentions, but good intentions are defeated, if you don’t follow through with them. So it’s better to have an intention to wake up at 7 and actually wake up at 7, than an intention to wake up at 6 and to wake up at 7. I hope it makes sense.

But it really is a powerful way to build your self-confidence because you’re following through with your plans and that will give you the confidence that when you set other plans, you’ll follow through with them. It seems so simple waking up on your alarm. But it is, I think of all of these tips probably the most powerful one, just to set the tone that you made a plan with yourself, you’re going to honor your plan and then go from there, so that’s my first tip.

Number two is to start with an easy win. So setting your alarm for a time that’s easy for you to wake up is one example of an easy win. But I also really like to not have a task that super challenging. So for me, I wake up I use the bathroom and then I get dressed. That’s an easy win, and I’m going to talk about getting dressed and picking your outfit in the next tip. But getting dressed like that’s so easy, I can do that in my sleep, practically.

And instead of having a habit that might be more challenging like meditating, I found it sometimes I’ve tried to have meditating as the first thing that I do and when I’m that close to sleep, it’s very hard not to just fall back to sleep but sitting upright, so having an easy win is a really powerful thing to do. Another example of an easy win is to drink a glass of water. Just something that you can do and that you don’t have any kind of drama around it that you’re not like, “Oh that’s going to be challenging” say for example, if you want to work out first thing if that’s something that you have a lot of drama around, it’s great to have something really simple just before it, like having a glass of water, that can give you that momentum instead of the thing that you’ve got a lot of mental drama around so wake up on your alarm and start with an easy win.

And obviously, that all different for everyone. It doesn’t matter if your alarm’s at 5 AM or at 11 AM, it doesn’t matter what your easy win is. You need to think about what that could be for you, and just experiment with it.

Number three is to pick your outfit and essentially to make as many decisions as you possibly can the night before. This is something that I used to do, pretty religiously. It had a huge impact and then I stopped doing it, I just fell out of the habit and I have really noticed the difference and now I’m just getting back into doing this. But the benefit of picking your outfit and making decisions, for example, the decision of what to eat for breakfast, a decision of what to pack for lunch, all of those kinds of little decisions you make in the morning. If you make them the night before you’re actually helping yourself when it comes to decision fatigue.

So decision fatigue is basically this idea that we have a certain amount of ability, capacity each day to make good decisions and as we draw from that well of decision-making ability, we reduce… you know what I’m trying to say, we only have a certain amount of decision-making energy per day, and if you use that decision-making energy on trying on six different outfits and thinking about what to eat for lunch, and thinking about what to eat for breakfast and thinking about what order to do your morning routine and all of that is taking away from your ability to make decisions later in the day. And I think most of us find that later in the day is when we find ourselves backing out of our plans most often.

For example, if you’re wanting to work out after work, but you keep finding yourself watching Netflix instead, doing something like reducing the number of decisions you make in the morning will actually have a really positive impact on that. It sounds too simple to actually work, but it really does. If you don’t make lots of decisions in the morning you have that decision-making power to use at the end of the day.

So what I did this last week is on Sunday night, I picked out 5 outfits, I hung them all up on hangers in my wardrobe and I know that some people have different weather and they like to know what the weather is, but I’m in Brisbane, luckily, we have pretty consistent weather and even if there was, it’s winter at the moment, or even if there was a really cold day, I just wore a coat over the top, and it’s always better to make a plan and then change the plan if needed than to think. “Oh well, it’s too hard to put in, so I won’t make any plan at all” this is the same with planning time with planning anything, it’s better to have a plan, and then be willing to change it instead of just wanting to not have a plan at all.

So even if you think, well then I can’t plan my outfits because I don’t know the weather. Well, you can probably guess and then you might just need to add a layer or take away a layer if the weather is really crazy on some day, but you can look up in an app or weather app to see what the weather is likely to be and then just choose one of those outfits. So yeah, I don’t think that’s an excuse for not doing it. And I know some people like to… So what moved there in all of that? And if that’s what you want to do, that’s fine. I’m just putting this forward as a suggestion of a way to really streamline your morning routine and make sure that you are not wasting decision-making energy first thing in the day.

So what I did as well is because I was within up early when Steve was going to be asleep and I needed to get dressed and do everything in the bathroom, I took the outfit from my wardrobe and put it in my bathroom, I hung it up in my bathroom. So took my shoes in everything in so that I could get fully dressed, I didn’t have any decision. Not even what pair of underwear every single decision, every piece of clothing I need to wear was there for me and I just quickly do that. It takes two seconds to do the night before, and it makes it so easy to get ready. As I was saying also decisions like what to eat for breakfast, I eat the same thing for breakfast every day. I eat it oats with a water porridge and sometimes I eat eggs, but because I eat breakfast at my co-working space I just, the night before, I pack a Tupperware container with half a cup of uncooked oats and they have free at the coworking space so I take an apple and cut it up and put it in there when I get there, but I just make this Tupperware container of oats and I put that in my bag and I also make put the protein for my protein shake for after the gym in the container and put that, in my gym bag. So that’s all ready, I don’t have to do that in the morning and yes, it is easy to do it in the morning.

But those things are easy to do at night as well and I find that doing them at night when I’m tired, and all of that just helps me create momentum the next morning and it’s much better for me to do those tasks the night before, when I’m tired, they take about the same amount of time whether I’m tired or not tired, so I may as well do it when I’m tired and make you the most of my energy that I have in the morning.

So those are the kinds of decisions I’m talking about. And basically just doing as much as you can the night before to make your morning super easy. So as I said, setting your alarm at a time that you actually plan to wake up, if you have said in your alarm and you’re thinking, I’m actually not going to wake up at this time. Please change your alarm time, please set yourself up for success and give yourself a really good opportunity to follow through. If you’re just getting into a morning routine just set your alarm for the exact time that you already wake up, or that you tend to wake up you can even save it for later than you normally would wake up, just make it as easy as possible to succeed.

So, yeah, picking out your outfit. Either I like to do on Sunday night because I just get it done all at once, and then I don’t have to worry about it until the next week, end but if you want to do it the night before you can do that, but it’s better than doing it in the morning.

Number four is to do things in the same order. I know some of you might like to be spontaneous, but it’s better to save spontaneity for the times that are actually exciting, which isn’t usually in the morning, and being spontaneous about whether you have a shower and eat breakfast or eat breakfast and have a shower isn’t exciting… so I think that having your morning routine again it’s… the reason for this is to help with decision fatigue.

If you’re constantly deciding “What order am I going to do things” it makes it like you’re using energy to make good decisions that you could be utilized at the end of the day. So I do all of my morning routines in exactly the same order, so at the moment I wake up at 5:30, I use the bathroom I get dressed, I do my make-up then and I already have all of my bags packed, I have my gym gear in my gym bag ready for when I go to the gym in the middle of the day and I already have my makeup, I’m using my make-up from my… what’s the word, the bag with all the make-up in it? I have it already in a bag, so that once I put my makeup on, I just close it, close the bag and put it in my gym bag, and then I usually conceived good-bye then I go out to the kitchen. I fill it, my water bottle, so I can drink it in the car. I water my plants and basically, that’s it. Did I mention that I do my makeup, yeah, I do my makeup immediately after getting dressed.

And then when I get to the co-working space, so it’s about a 30-minute drive I get there I go and put my breakfast, pour some water into the oats and put it in the microwave cut an apple to put on top, and then I do my personal development work, so I do a thought download, which is basically just writing down whatever’s on the top of my head for one page. And then I plan my day and I am planning to move this to doing it the afternoon before as I said, it’s best to do as much as possible today before, but at the moment I’m doing it on the day off I’m using iCal and I brainstorm with hand-writing what I’m going to do that day and then I put it into my iCal so that I’ve actually got deadlines, and a plan to walk off. Because the last month or two, I have been so slacked with planning my time and my productivity has been so down because instead of putting in my calendar, I just have a to-do list but then I haven’t got any time deadlines, I haven’t got any constraint.

And so, one task just kind of takes a whole day, but when I’ve got a really clear outline of what I’m going to do like hour by hour, it’s so much easy to be productive and to stay on task because I get satisfaction from looking at this calendar, I can paste in to the event, a little tick at the beginning when I’ve done it, so I love looking at that and just saying like, “Tick, tick, tick, tick” I go to the gym, so I work, I get to the co-working space at about 6:45 AM and then I have until 7:30 to do my personal development stuff and to plan the day, I also use my Canvast planner which I think I can get from canvastco.com

I use that to also hand write my plans and I have some of my goals in there and different things like that so I also do that. So I’m kind of doing the handwritten planning and using iCal which is working for me really well at the moment, so I have until 7:30 to do that. Then I work from 7:30 till 1:30, then I go to the gym, and then I go to my part-time job, so that’s currently how I’m doing things.

And before I was working the co-working space was going to the gym first thing in the morning, but because of street parking really bad and I need to get that early if I want to get a park. I have moved that to the middle of the day and when I was working in my full-time accounting job and going to the gym in the middle of the day, I absolutely loved it because it just broke up the day and stops me from having that afternoon slump. So I’m so glad to be back to joining it.

And for anyone who’s been thinking of doing it, but thinking like, it’s too hard in terms of getting dressed and make-up and hair and all of that. It actually is super easy. So, I used to think that too. It’s too much effort to get changed and my makeup is going to be ruined when I’m super sweaty. But actually, if you think about it takes less than 5 minutes to get dressed than undress, I think it’s just one of those things it seems harder than it is.

Even though it’s obviously very easy, but having to get dressed into a workout gear, then back into what clothes seem like such a hassle, but it doesn’t take much time at all. Then what I do is I take my makeup and I literally just touch up. I get super red and sweaty when I work out, and I do like work-outs that really do make me sweat, but what I do is I blow dry with the blow dryer. I blow dry it on cool and I do that on my face for one or two minutes, which it’s probably going to be really gross-sounding but it kind of just dried up all the sweat and it also just cools me down heaps and I’m still bright red, but it starts to help reduce that, and then I just touch up my makeup.

So normally it’s just like the area around my jawline where the foundation sort of disappeared. I just touch up there, my nose and kind of just… often my mascara put some powder over the top and that’s it. It’s actually super easy, but most of the makeup stays there.

So if you’ve been worried about it and then I just basically use a blow dryer to dry any sweat on my head. I know, so gross but it’s how you have to do it. Sometimes I put some dry shampoo as well, it really is so simple. So if you do have the opportunity to work to work out in the middle of the day, I would definitely recommend it. I love doing it, it just really gives me a little boost for the second half of the day. So that’s what I’ve been doing, then I go to my part-time job and then I get home from that at about 8:30, and then I hang out with Steve.

Anyway, tangent, but that’s my current routine, I’m playing around with it. I’m thinking or adding in more time for personal development, and I need to add in time for reading, so I either do that before the gym or I’m thinking of doing it first thing in the morning. But then there’s also kangaroo point cliffs which are near my co-working space. If you don’t live in prison, and you probably have never heard of that, but if you do, you only what I’m talking about, it’s one of my favorite places in Brisbane and a couple of weeks ago I went there I had an hour to spare before my part-time job, I went there, I had a picnic there in the back of my car.

I didn’t even realize it was that, but I was like… I think I have a map that I could use, so I got that went and found a nice spot in the shade by the river and read my book, and that was so good. So I’m thinking of adding that in before. I mean yeah, before my part-time job after I go to the gym.

I’m also kind of planning to reduce my work hours to only what’s needed, and we put in more time for personal development, so that I really have to be strict with myself with what I’m working on and that I can only work on the things that are really important. Because if I’m not strict with myself and if I don’t create timelines to myself and all of that, I end up doing tasks that aren’t important and even though I’m busy, I’m not being productive and I would rather be super productive for like 5 hours, and then have a couple of hours to read and go to the gym before my part-time job. So anyway, I digress, but just to update you guys on my current plans and what I’m currently doing.

So this was all very to the point of doing things in the same order. So no matter what it is you’re doing in your morning routine, or you can think about what you’re currently doing in the morning, you don’t have to create a new routine of things. This is to really just adopt what you’re currently doing if you do the same kind of things every morning, but you don’t have a specific order. My recommendation is to just take those things and give them a really specific order. In the beginning, you might need to write it down so you can look and remember, but it really does help with giving you better decision-making power at the end of the day.

Number five is to listen to something inspiring. So I have a few motivational YouTube videos. You’ve probably seen these before. They are compilations of people like Will Smith and Tony Robbins, and people like that who are saying little snippets of inspiring things and they put all these epic movie soundtracks behind it, and I love listening to that stuff in the morning. And so, there’s quite a few channels like Mateusz M., I’ll link these in the show notes at smart-twenties.com/episode37 but there’s Mateusz M. I think the Mulligan Brothers, people like that, I’ll link it but they’re really easy to find. If you just search Youtube motivational videos. I have converted them to MP3 and have them on my phone so I listen to them.

I also listen to different podcast episodes, but I try to make it something that’s really going to get me in the right frame of mind for the day and you can have this on, while you’re doing other things. It really does make a difference. So what you do listen to first thing in the morning, especially as well, because that’s when you’re most close to your subconscious mind that and when you’re about to fall asleep. So the things that you listen to first thing in the morning, and last thing at night are really going to stick. So it has to be something good.

So either find some motivating videos or whatever it is, it really gets to inspire and put it on your phone, so it’s easy to listen to or have some podcast episodes queued up again, best not to be deciding what you’re going to listen to in the morning. You might like to do it the night before or you might like to just have a playlist of things or something like that where you don’t need to decide you just or you know like I’m going to go to this a Youtube channel and listen to whatever was most recently, uploaded. I also love Evan Carmichael’s channel. I feel like I haven’t spoken about him in a while, but he’s one of my go-to people for motivating videos. His Top 10 Rules of Success series that he does. So there are some great places to get stuff to listen to, and that leads me on to point 6 which is, avoid the news.

I spoke about this recently in my podcast, but I don’t read the news. And some people will think that’s very ignorant of me, and that I can’t be a good global citizen, but most of the news is celebrity gossip and car crashes, and robberies and things that aren’t actually informative. If all of the news was informative… and yes, there are some places to get news that are like that, but I’m talking about news like morning shows and that kind of thing. A lot of it is just stuff designed to make us feel scared, so we’ll keep tuning in to find out what we need to be scared of and what we need to avoid. So if you do want to be up-to-date on the news. I get it, but I would recommend not doing it first thing in the morning. And often, it’s very rare that there’s something on the news that’s going to impact how you go about your day. Either way, I recommend at least do it at the very end of your morning routine, if that’s something that you do want to do in the morning, but if you can, I would recommend changing any news consumption to the end of the day, if you are interested in experimenting with, not keeping up with the news, I highly recommended it. I haven’t had any negative impact from it and I think I’ve been doing it about 5 years.

I think it was from an initially read The Four-Hour Workweek from Tim Ferriss where he talks about the low information diet and I was listening to different podcasts, where they were saying that they don’t watch the news. I was like, “That’s really appealing to me” and I haven’t had anything negative happen. And if something important is happening in the world, I hear about it from people talking about it, and if I hear something that’s really interesting, I will go and look it up and get more information about what’s happening. But of course, any big global tragedy people are talking about at work, or people I see will mention or, “Did you see this?”

I am surrounded by enough people that read the news that I will hear about something if it’s significant. So, not saying you don’t, you shouldn’t watch the news and everyone can do that one thing. But I personally found it something that really keeps me in a more positive frame of mind. Maybe that sounds really ignorant, it probably is, but at the same time, as I was saying a lot of news isn’t actually news it’s like whenever I’m actually… maybe I’ll see what’s on the news today, it’s like the breaking stories, like a car crash, robbery. And that’s what news that I don’t know, that’s not actually informative, it’s just like, “Here’s the side things that have happened in the last 24 hours”

So for me, I avoid the news, and particularly I recommend avoiding it as part of your morning. We tie if you love watching the news guy for it, but do it at least at the end of your morning routine, not at the beginning.

Number seven is, do something for yourself before you do something for your boss. So this counts, even if you’re you’re own boss. So as I was saying before, I start working on my business and my blogging stuff, I do my personal development work and I do it in that order because it is so important for me to actually do something for myself as a person for either my mental or physical health or just for the enjoyment of it, before I do something for my boss, which in my case, is me. But when I was working in my full-time job the thing that I did for myself before going to my job was working on my blog because it wasn’t yet– I mean I was still my own boss with that but that was something for me.

And then I would go to work and do something for my boss. And this isn’t a thing, idea, whatever that I got from Myleik Teele, I love her podcast, Myleik Teele’s podcast, which I haven’t spoken about too much, but it’s one of my favorites and it’s actually what inspired me to do my podcast the way I do it. She is my main source of podcast inspiration because she literally just gets her microphone and chats.

And so many of you guys say that you love this podcast because it feels like we’re  just chatting and that’s what I love, that’s why Myleik Teele’s podcast is one of my favorite because I literally just feel like I’m chatting to her because she doesn’t edit anything, she just says whatever on her mind, she goes off on tangents. It’s like how you are when you’re with your friends, you’re not always, “Here I am sitting with my bullet points and I’m just going to read them out to you” like if you’re catching up with a friend that’s super weird so like for this I just have 10 Top Points and that’s it, and I’m just chatting but anyway, I love the way that she just has a super, super chatty and just really helpful advice. So if you haven’t gone and listened to her podcasts, I know I’ve already got a heap of you on to it, but I definitely recommend it. So she was talking about doing something for yourself before you do something for your boss. And it’s an idea that I took and ran with and have found it to be something incredibly powerful.

So if you are currently rushing out of the door and going to work and working is really the first thing that you’re doing in the day, give all you do in the morning before you start working, is that you like, get dress, have a coffee, have your breakfast, and then came in to work scrolling through Instagram mindlessly, I highly recommend adding in if you can or replacing something so that you can do something for yourself, whether that’s meditating, whether that’s doing a workout, I recommend it be something either your physical health, your mental health, or something that will help you work towards one of your goals, or maybe you have a side hustle, maybe you really want to do painting, whatever it is, especially if you really struggle to make time for it, but it’s something that you really want to do. Maybe it’s reading just adding in 10-15 minutes of it. Well, makes a difference because you’re communicating to yourself that you are the most important person in your life because the first person that you help is you.

And I know maybe some people think that selfish, I definitely think that being selfish in a way if that’s what you call it… it’s very important. Like, I don’t get why everyone is so scared of being selfish and often when people… it’s so funny when people like, “Ugh, they’re so selfish!” it’s because they want that person to be helping them. And isn’t that selfish that you want them to just be helping you instead of helping them?

Anyway, that’s a totally the rant that I could go off on. But I think that doing something for yourself doesn’t matter what it is, but it’s really great if it’s something that you struggle to make time for and you currently haven’t been making time for. If you can put that into the beginning of your day, for even 10-15 minutes, especially if it’s going to help you get towards a goal as well, whether that’s meditation, which will help you feel better and be less reactive and just feel more calm, whether it’s… you’ve got your blog and your wanting to actually eventually turn it into a full-time gig for yourself, but you haven’t been able to do it when you’re exhausted at the end of the day, stuff like that in the morning, moves the needle. I promise you if I didn’t not blog before I went to work, I would have not ever got into where I am.

Only did a couple of hours, half the time I was definitely not productive because I was so sleep-deprived, so if I went and did again, I would probably… instead of waking up at 4 AM I would wake up at 5 AM, just because I think I would be more productive, in one hour when I’m a bit better rested, then two hours when I’m completely sleep-deprived. So regardless… do something for yourself before you do something for your boss, even if you’re your own boss, do something for yourself as an individual.

Also, I just want to mention because this relates… I have been being really strict with myself with having at least one day off every week, which for me has been Sunday, and it really just helped me see myself as being separate from my business which is something I hadn’t actually realized was as big a problem as it was because when I was always working and even though I loved doing this stuff, I was so excited today to be sitting down and doing a podcast episode because this is a favorite, my favorite thing that I do as part of my business and it’s the thing that you guys love as well, so that makes it even better.

Even though I love it, I need to be able to see myself as being separate from my business otherwise my whole worth is tied up in my business and if it’s successful and I feel successful if it’s unsuccessful then I feel unsuccessful, and I don’t want to have that dependency on my business from my own worth as a person, they are completely separate. And so having the Sunday to really just discover what I’m interested in because part of the problem was that I didn’t really have any hobbies in mind and that I hadn’t really done a challenging work.

I think it is really challenging to come up with things that you want to be doing in your spare time and allowing yourself to be “unproductive”. I did an episode, one of my first few, I think it’s Episode #5 on productivity and how often I need to be productive is really coming not from a good place, but from a place of… I need to do more so I can be more which is not healthy, so having time to be unproductive to just sit and chill and figure out what I’m interested in that isn’t blogging has actually been really helpful for me in creating my own identity as Sam and then me as who I am in my business. So I just wanted to mention that as well.

If you are working for yourself or if you’re wanting to work for yourself to just keep that in mind because I do think it is dangerous to have all of your identity attached to how your business or your side hustle is going and it’s dangerous, and I think it’s not healthy, even if you have a very successful business, I think it’s still very important to have you as yourself and then you as how you are relating to your business. Anyway, that was number seven.

So it’s so far just to recap because “Repetition is the mother of skill” whatever that saying is. Wake up on your alarms, start with an easy-win picture outfit and make decisions the night before, do things in the same order listen to something inspiring avoid the news, do something for yourself before you do something for better. So that’s where we’re currently at.

The next is to keep it phone-free. And I know all too well the temptation of going on to social media or email or whatever it is that you find yourself drawn to going on that first thing in the morning. And I’ve definitely been in habits where that’s what I’ve done as soon as my alarms go off, I’ve just immediately gone to Instagram and my email to see what’s there. And I have found that by moving the time that I check my phone even back one hour, so what I like to do is for me, I don’t check my email or my Instagram until 7:30 AM when I sit down to start work, so I always try to make it once my full morning routine is done.

And I find that being strict with how I use my phone is actually the most freeing thing. It sounds so counterintuitive, but not looking at my phone every time I get that twitch or that instinct to just pick up my phone. It has the same effect as if I’ve meditated consistently for a month, that’s how I feel when I’m not constantly looking at my phone. Looking at my phone, I just feel so much more focused, I feel less reactive to things, less reactive to my own thoughts, less reactive to the thoughts that I have about what other people are saying and I just feel like this it’s hard to describe but this real sense of calm and even if you don’t want to be strict with yourself throughout the day, just being mindful of it in the morning and setting a specific time for it which I recommend at the earliest is at the end of your morning routine.

So say, if you wake up and you’re getting dressed and doing all of that, that you don’t check it until– ideally either you’re just gotten to work or whenever it can be as late as possible, is basically what I’m trying to say and it will make such a difference. The other thing you’ll notice is that it won’t actually make you miss anything. Everything will be there when you actually do check it will only take a minute to catch up, I promise you. And the impact that it has, if you’ve been thinking of the meditation but haven’t yet not looking at your phone first thing for me at least, has had a very similar impact to meditating consistently.

I think it’s just because when you’re not looking at your fine, you are being a lot more mindful of your surroundings, you’re focusing on what’s actually in front of you. But when I am checking my phone, I am walking on the house not even looking, what I’m going because I’m looking at my fine the moments I have a thought of like, I wonder what somebody or I’ll just immediately check it. It’s so reactive, it’s so impulsive but when you’re not doing that, you can actually just be in the moment and enjoy whatever it is you’re doing. So that is something that I found to be incredibly helpful.

Number nine is to make it simple, and if you are just starting I recommend not really adding in anything new, and just optimizing the way that things currently are, and then adding a couple of new things. But the temptation if you have the perfectionist all-or-nothing mindset, the temptation is always to create a 3-hour intense morning routine that’s gotta be like, perfect, and that is really easy to give up on. So instead, I recommend going with what you’ve got, optimizing it, based on the advice I’m giving you in this. So set an alarm and make sure you wake up on it, all those little things.

And then once you’re in the habit and you’ve got your current routine streamlined, adding something new and you might be thinking, “Well, what’s the point of streamlining everything and optimizing my care routine if the things I’m doing that good because I want to be working out and dadada…” but I’m actually looking at my phone, it doesn’t matter, just like I get it because I also tend to fall into the all-or-nothing thinking, and I have really had to do a lot of personal work to get myself out of that way of thinking, so I definitely know it’s easier said than done to make it simple but just see it as warming up to it and that it’s only going to get better.

I think this is an all-or-nothing mentality as well is kind of underpinned by this idea that it’s going to be the best, it can be at the beginning, so if it’s not perfect at the beginning, it will never get better, it’ll only get worse. And that’s often because in the past, when we started something and we’ve had the all-or-nothing mentality, we started, it’s perfect. And then it’s really challenging to stick to. So it is a downhill, but if inside you say it as “It’s only going to get better from here” not it’s only going to get worse as we currently think, “It’s only going to get better from here and that I’m just warming up to the routine” and I love to think of it more as experimenting which is actually my tenth point as well, to play with it, to experiment with it, it just really takes a pressure off for it to be this perfect Instagrammable morning routine and to just have it be something that’s going to support you and support your life.

I swear I change my morning routine especially this year, I feel like I’ve just had a lot of different morning routines that I’ve been in, but I don’t make that mean anything and I don’t hold this idea that a morning routine needs to be perfectly consistent, which is one of the other things that I’ve written down but I want to mention to you guys is that if you are in that all-or-nothing mentality and you do tend to be really hard on yourself and beat yourself up when you don’t follow through with things, then to redefine what consistency, actually means. Because a lot of you guys tell me that you want to have a consistent morning routine and that’s great, but consistency can mean anything you want it to mean. So, as I said before, it’s best to set yourself up to win. So my definition of consistency and I was thinking about this before it’s not… so, I have ever said to myself… like, “This is my definition of consistency” but I’ve just come to adopt it as the way I think about consistency for me.

If I do my morning routine to the best of my ability, it might not be perfect, I might do things in a slightly different order I might forget something, whatever, I counted as I’ve attempted it rather than I’ve succeeded in doing it perfectly, as a win, so if I have attempted my morning routine four to five days out of seven, that to me is what consistent means, it means I’m doing it essentially more often than not, that’s consistency.

And that’s a lot load of threshold than a 100% of the time, which is what we often in the all-or-nothing mentality default to. It’s either I’ve gotta do my morning routine 7 days a week, or it’s not worth doing. And yeah, so you might find it helpful to just switch up your definition of consistency really think about it again. For me, it’s just consistency is, I do it more often than I don’t do it. The same with the gym, the same with healthy eating, all of that. I think of myself as being consistent with those habits when I do them more often than I don’t do them and that to me is so much easy to stick to, then thinking I need to do it 100% of the time.

Because what happens, it sounds better to aim for a 100%, and if you’re able to stick to 100% without having any drama, about it and without backing out of it at any point, then yeah, you can aim for 100%, but if you’re an all-or-nothing mindset, and it’s either 100% or zero, it’s much better to just think of, “Well, am I doing it more often than not? If yes, then I’m in the habit of doing it” and it really helps you keep momentum because if you’re an all-or-nothing mindset, momentum, when you go all in great then you got nothing and momentum just dies off. But when you’re thinking about consistency in terms of more often than not, if you missed, you don’t make it mean anything, you don’t beat yourself up about it, that’s still a win that you’re doing it more often than not, which means that you can pick it up and go in the next day and then the next day, and then you might have a day off on the next day, but over the long run, we all know intellectually, that that’s going to get you much closer to your goals than one week of all in and then 11 weeks of nothing.

If you do something for 12 weeks more often than not, you’re going to end up getting a much better result because the consistency is there, even though it’s not a 100% everyday consistency, it’s still the momentum and the repetition and building upon it. It does have such a big impact, so if you’ve been struggling with all-or-nothing thinking and you’ve either being perfectly sticking to a morning routine or you destroy the whole thing out the window, definitely, definitely, definitely, recommend thinking about redefining what it means to be consistent.

I really think it only matters what you do a majority, the majority of the time, not to say that I don’t know what I’m trying to say that, but really what I mean is that you don’t need to have everything looking at it picture perfect and know again, it’s so much easier said than done if you’re really in the fixed mindset, perfectionist mindset that you want to have it perfectly because of the way you will feel if it’s not because you’ll feel ashamed basically is the feeling that you’re trying to avoid when you have everything perfect it’s so that you can avoid feeling shame, which for many of us is a very painful emotion, and which ironically, when we don’t follow through plans, we share ourselves and feel it anyway, how much fun is that? So they are my tips.

One more thing I want to mention is, if you have any daily tasks that you need to do that you often forget to do, it’s a great place to put them in your morning routine. So, for me watering plants– I spoke about it in my self-image podcast episode that I did. And that episode literally, that work that I did to create that episode has changed my life. Because I hadn’t really thought of self-image in that way, until I spoke about it on that episode and I have just been recreating my self-image so I have been so organized with things, just in terms of things in our bedroom and just little odds and ends.

I’m so much more organized because I’ve started to think of myself as an organized person, so when I do something that an organized person would do, I think, “Oh yeah, that’s normal behavior for me” when I do something disorganized, I think, “Oh, that’s weird” whereas, like now I do that on autopilot but in the beginning, I just had to really consciously think “Oh yeah, I’m an organized person” of course, I’d do it right away and that’s not become a habit. And now I do things straight away. And the same with watering plants I was talking about, this in previous episode that I had this self-image that I couldn’t keep plants alive, even though I had actually kept plant alive and that’s kind of the thing that we do when it comes to our self-image, we dismiss any evidence that doesn’t support it, even though it is there so often to change your self-image about something, you actually don’t need to really change anything you just change which evidence you use.

So before I was using all of the dead plants as evidence instead I turned to actually there have been a lot of plants that I’ve kept alive and telling myself that I’m the kind of person that is really good at keeping plants alive. I’m so good at watering them when I need to water them. I literally just fed myself, these beliefs. And now I water my plants every day, and I do it in the morning so I have it as part of my morning routine because the plants get sun later in the day, and if I water them later, it’s not great for the plants, but just because it’s part of my routine, and I can know you for sure that I will do it so when I go out to the kitchen, I fill up the water bottle that I used to water the plants. It’s just like a 2-liter orange juice bottle an old one, I fill that up, I go out onto the deck and I water the plants that we have in the hanging baskets and I have a calendar. This is also super helpful. I know I’ve gone off on so many tangents but I don’t care! So I have a calendar that I use to keep track of when to water my plants, so I have some plants in hanging baskets on my balcony. Steve and I bought some citrus trees that we have along within our front garden. Then I also have a fiddly fig which Steven and I have named Fiona because they say that if you name your plants, you take better care of them which makes sense.

But anyway, Fiona, I have her to look after and then I’m looking after some plants for Steve’s mom at the moment as well. And some days, I put liquid fertilizer like once a week into certain ones, so I have it all written out on the calendar when I need to do what, and then I just tick it when I’ve done it. And that just made everything so easy. I know I put liquid fertilizer in the plants on my balcony on every Thursday, so just stuff like that. I know it sounds so simple, but you can really change your self-image and self-image is super subtle like having this belief that I’m not good at keeping plants alive actually sounds, when we say it and when we believe it, it sounds like, which is observing a fact which is observing “I’m not good at it” when really, that’s something that we’re just reinforcing by only seeing evidence of why we’re not good at it and continuously telling ourselves this story.

So I started consciously telling myself the story of me being a really good plant owner and all of my plants have been thriving because when I have that belief, I actually do the action. Whereas before when I had the belief, “I’m not good at looking after plants” I would see a plant needed watering and I would think “No, I’m not going to water that” like I don’t know, this is a super simple example but it applies to whether you think you’re a morning person or not, whether you think you’re a gym person or not, whether you think you’re a shy person or not like any facet of your personality, you can change the way that you view it. So that is a very big side note and if you want to hear more about self-image stuff, definitely have a scroll through to find the episode that I did on Transforming Your Self-image because I go into it in more detail there and I will also link it at the show notes but that’s everything I wanted to share with you guys in this episode.

Actually, that’s a lie, there was one more thing I wanted to mention which is my Promote Your Blog Workshop, so I have been doing a series on blogging so there was The Start Your Blog Workshop, The Grow Your Blog Workshop. This is the third in the series, The Promote Your Blog Workshop. I’ve been putting these on because I just get so many questions about blogging and I know that a lot of you are very similar to me that you really want to have a creative outlet, a way to have a positive impact on the world. You see that blogging is a way to make that happen but you’ve had a lot of fear and self-doubt and perfectionism holding you back and because I was just getting so many questions and even though I keep pointing you guys to the people I get my advice from, I keep getting questions so I’ve been doing these workshops.

So this will be probably for quite a while, the last thing I do about blogging so if you want to know how I use social media, how I’ve used Pinterest and Instagram to grow my blog, how I schedule everything, the apps that I use to create my Instagram quotes, create my graphics for Pinterest, how I schedule it, how I organize it as well as dealing with fear of judgment, questions like, “Should you create a business account or create a personal account? and merge all of those things, I will be going through in the workshop. It’s a 2-hour live workshop. It’s happening at 7 AM Australian Eastern Standard time on the Twenty-second of July. So if you’re in the US or the UK, that’s going to be on Saturday, some time for you, Saturday, Twenty-first of July, registration is closing at midnight, Eastern Daylight Savings Time on the 20th of July. So make sure you go and register. It’s only $9, it’s so, so, so cheap, and it’s not going to be when I open it for registration, the next time I’m going to be offering them as a package. You guys have been emailing me and asking what to do. If you’ve missed the first two.

I will be offering them again, but they won’t be as cheap as they were the first time and they will be available as a package as well. But yeah, this one’s going to be so good. I’ve been getting so many good questions about how I use social media and all of that, so I’m going to be showing everything, there are no secrets, there’s no upsell to a more expensive course, this is it, this is the best of what I have to offer from five years of spending thousands of hours experimenting and researching and listening to every podcast I can find on all of it, step by step, I’m just going to be going through exactly what I would do if I was starting my book right now.

As well as the mindset stuff, because that is the stuff that most people don’t share and it’s the mindset stuff that stops us because all of those strategies are available. If you go to Pinterest or Google, you can find a million amazing strategies. The only thing is that those strategies only work if you do them consistently and often if you have an all-or-nothing mindset or you’re really scared about what your friends and family will think or you’re worried that people will unfollow you, all of that stuff will just keep you so stuck.

So it’s not the strategies that are really, what– I’m going to be giving you the strategies so that you don’t have to spend time researching it but the mindset stuff and getting past the perfectionism and fear of judgement and the self-doubt and the voice in your head that’s saying “Why don’t you just give up on this?” all of that is the most powerful stuff. So, I’m going to be showing exactly how I deal with all of that because I still deal with a lot of it.

So yeah, if you want to join, you also become part of The Smart Twenties Bloggers Facebook group, which is the student-only group for the blogging workshops. And I’m always in there and answering all the questions and giving my advice and feedback and all of that, and yeah, it’s really good, there’s a workbook, there’s so much, it’s only $9, so if you want to be part of it go and register, you can go to smart-twenties.com/workshop. There’ll also be a link in the show notes as well, I’d love you to be part of it if you’ve been thinking of starting a blog, now is the time, now is the time. So yeah, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope to see you in The Promote Your Blog Workshop if you’re interested in becoming a successful blogger and I will talk to you next time, bye!

Author: Sam Brown