Are you looking to change your mindset?
Get more control in your life?
So was I!
I have really been enjoying my productivity and energy this year, I have gotten so much more done in the past few months than I have in a year in the past.
Last year, was a transition year as I was actively working towards getting to this level, and I still have a lot more improving to do still. Today I will share a bit about the process.
I hope it will help you as it has helped me!
Practice the Morning Miracle
I’ve been listening to Pat Flynn’s podcast Smart Passive Income, and the episode with Hal Elrod about his Morning Miracle formula has been my favorite for sure. Before listening, I had already been waking up early, as a lot of other productivity people say mornings are the best times to get work done. But Hal’s morning routine puts it all together in a package. So I am meditating, drinking lots of water and tea, some push ups, write out my day, and read for about ten minutes.
It is meant to be quick and takes me about one hour from waking up until I am back at home. I go outside into the apartment’s garden area to do this so I don’t wake up the family. I love the peace and quiet, and I live near a park with tons of birds chirping – hard to believe it is China.
I am so positive and energized coming back home at 7am, it is awesome. Been doing this now since early January, and plan to do it for the rest of my life.
Morning Time With The Family, & Study Chinese
After the morning miracle, I walk back in the house about 7:15am or so. Normally the family is still asleep, or Miles is just waking up. I will read a book to him, normally a Dr Suess book, and change his clothes / diaper (sometimes me, yes…). After that we move to the playroom (technically living room) and this is where I try my best to multi-task both playing with my baby and learning Chinese. I have a Chinese learning system that I blogged about and so I focus on 3 to 5 characters by writing them over and over, at least 2 rows on my Chinese writing notebook – while also having my baby bounce on my knee or jump on my lap. Daddy duty rocks – and I try to let those Chinese characters simmer in my brain during this twenty to thirty minute ritual.
Writing Every Morning
I am also writing every morning, which is how this post is being created. I try not to do any other work, or even check my mobile phone (it’s powered off right now still) until after I finish writing. This can be a tricky one with a kid and the family running around the house, but I have a home office section where I put my headset on, listen to some relaxing music, and type up freely for an hour. Normally this is 8:30am to 9:30am approximately.
So now I have written two books (I wrote how the full process on how I wrote my first book here) and I am blogging like crazy. It truly is a habit now, and it makes me feel a sense of accomplishment before I get to email and social media distractions.
Trying To Systematize Repetitive Tasks (I.e. Become a Robot)
My wife Wendy calls it being robot, but I tell her I want to be a robot for those GOOD things that I want to do every day. I want them to be automatic, without thinking, like a reflex. I am told a habit is formed after 66 days (learned this while reading Four Hour Body by Tim Ferris) – even though many say it is 30 days, he says in fact studies show it is 66 days. So now I am in the month of March and a lot of these life changes / schedule changes happened at about New Years day – so I am getting there.
And it is true, some days I get other distractions popping up, and I get upset at myself for missing some of these routines. I even force myself to make up for them later in the day (double the amount) or double up on it the next day.
I have also read that in order to keep a habit, you cannot miss more than two days in a row. If you miss more than two consecutive days in a row then you are at risk at breaking this habit. And I am dead set on keeping these habits for the rest of my life. So maybe life can let me miss one day, but two days and I will be extremely upset at myself and have to have some life-changing reason that is happening
My Schedule Laid Out
So here is my rough schedule. It depends which day it is – if I am going to the Unchained Apps office or working from home, or if it is a weekend. Weekends though I still wake up at the same time (5:30am) but my mid-day is normally more time with the family or studying Chinese (Sundays are my more intensive Chinese review days). I didn’t start this habit waking up at 5:30, I started at 6:40am, then to 6:15am, then to 6am, then to 5:30am over about three months or so.
5:30am – wake up – go outside – meditate / exercise / plan my day / read a book 10 minutes
7am – come home – read to Miles, study chinese,
8am – eat breakfast
8:30am – 9:30am – write
9:30 – 10am – bike ride to office / transition to “work mode”
9:30am to 10am: prepare to work
10am to noon – do creative work
noon – lunch time
1pm – read / watch videos
2pm – emails, phone calls
4pm – editing radio / book / blog
5pm – gym / or bike ride back from the office at 7pm
6pm – eat
7pm – 9pm – time with family / watch movie
9pm – read
10pm – sleep
I really do try to get to bed by ten o’clock. It is a challenge though, both with getting the baby to sleep, as well as friends and personal life. I do feel myself changing, as well as the friends around me. I do feel so much healthier. My heart feels like it is “fluttering” lighter, my internal system feels cleaner.
While it is tempting to stay up later and “burn the midnight” oil – I have noticed that having a fresh and clear mind I can get tons more done. I am also trying so hard not to multi-task, I only have two to three browser tabs open at the same time.
Communicate Your Schedule To Those Close Around You
Getting into this morning routine is a challenge – definitely. That alarm clock, the temptation to snooze a bit. But not only have I found it a challenge for my own self control and discipline, but I have noticed I have to communicate my routine to my friends and family around me. At the beginning I didn’t explain this new routine to my wife Wendy, and she was confused and creating conflicting things within my schedule. After a discussion with her about what I am trying to do, and showing her some of the resources I am using she better understood and has been really supportive.
She even mapped out her own schedule as well as Miles’s schedule. Awesome!
The bigger challenge is of course during the time everyone else is awake. And from that, the three I have found the most challenging to stick to are the learning Chinese, reading, and writing. I try my best to do the reading (ten minutes) while I am still downstairs (outside or in the apartment lobby) as once I go back into the apartment I know the baby might be awake and other daddy duties will kick in. Studying Chinese, I have learned to do that while I am playing with my kid, as I study a character, write it a few times, bounce him around on my knee, and then write the character a few times. This will take more time as I’m multi-tasking – but I like this balance.
For writing, this is after breakfast, and there are so many potential distractions. Can easily get sucked into my mobile phone, checking tons of wechat messages, or emails or other notifications on social media. I try my best to not look at my phone still, go back into my home office (well, desk) and write! Put on the headphones, some soothing music, tune out the family background noises, and grind out for at least thirty minutes or 1,000 words.
Another way I have gotten my family to understand is by printing some print copies of my book and showing it to them. They can see I am actually doing something, not staring at a computer screen or avoiding family time. Now with 2 books done, and another in the works, they understand there is fruit to the work.
Friends is another thing, mostly because I don’t stay out as late at night as I want to wake up earlier. And I have really reduced, almost stopped completely, my consumption of alcohol. I want to get a good nights sleep and wake up on time without being drowsy. Having a wife and kid is also another reason. I have been showing my friends around me my writing journal, the books I am making, the video training, and those who are my real friends are supportive and excited for me.
A lot of life changes for me for sure, but all for the best I believe.
Mindset – Read: Trickle Down Mindset
My buddy Dustin Ellard recommended me an awesome book that just was released earlier this year called Trickle Down Mindset. This book was awesome. I am not sure how to really summarize it, but he basically doesn’t give you “tactics” to improve this or that, to be more productive or to improve your health. He goes even further back, deeper into your core beliefs and thinking. Why are you doing what you are doing, what are your desires.
It honestly helped me “adjust my attitude” on life. One thing I do have to say is that attitude is so important, and I have been through a lot of roller coasters in life that sometimes burns me out – but having a positive and constructive attitude will help us go into the day and the future on the right foot. One of the excerpts I remember was the saying something like “life is never over, if you achieve your goal, life still goes on, you will never be finished”. And that is so true, but for some reason in my life I have made this eternal struggle on each new challenge. I just need to change my attitude and accept where I am now, the issue I am faced with it, deal with it, and expect there to be a new challenge shortly thereafter.
Sure, this sounds basic, but you need to bake this into your subconscious and convince every part of your mind and body this is true.
Want to Try? Start Step by Step
Maybe I have gotten you excited and inspired you to try. That is awesome if it is the case, but I would recommend not trying to totally change everything so drastically. Just try to wake up a little bit earlier and pick a few things on the list. Maybe meditation is the most important, seriously it is for me, when I’m really “in the zone” I feel my body tingling and it refreshes me for the day ahead. For me to get to that level took at least a month, and it keeps getting better over time as I keep the habit.
So test yourself, wake up twenty minutes earlier, try five minutes of meditation, read for ten minutes, and maybe do a set or two of push ups. Just don’t overdo it at the beginning, or else you’ll burn out and make up an excuse that “you can’t do it”. This morning I woke up at 5:30am for the first time, just in December I was waking up at 6:40. January I moved it back to 6:30, in mid Feb to 6am, and just today (writing this on March 10th) I woke up at 5:30am. I feel even better than before. I hope to stick to 5:30am!
Journal It (Or Write It Down Somewhere!)
If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it. That is something that has been baked into my mind, and over the last few months I have seen my progress steadily get better, doing more push ups, waking up a little bit earlier, learning more Chinese characters. Anything you want to improve on, put it in a journal. As the book “Trickle Down Mindset” says, make a individual journal for each thing you want to measure and improve, don’t jam it all into 1 massive general journal. I keep 4 active journals now:
- Morning Miracle (SAVER)
- Five Minute Journal
- Writing Journal
- Chinese Learning Journal
There are a couple other I am not as religious about keeping up with, with is my eating journal and my exercise journal. Sigh, I should…I will get there, I have the outlines, I try to update them every couple weeks with a general checkin with my updates. But I know if I really want to improve those I have to update them daily.
I hope this helped you out, motivated you, inspired you, to take at least a small action. Don’t be discouraged, it is never too late, and we all need to be positive. Would love to hear your comments below
Some Journals I Put Together Since
Years later and I am still grinding away at these systems. Enough that I put together some journals to help you – if you are someone like me who prefers having things down on paper- enjoy!
Let me know what you think of these journals, for your morning routine and your meditation sessions.
Now Its Your Turn!
I’d love to hear your input and ideas on how morning routines and being more productive has had a change in your life!