“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Mark Twain (American Author)
“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.”
Arianna Huffington (American Publisher & Author)
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Aristotle (Greek Philosopher)
The power of ritual is buzzworthy in many professional circles of successful people for good reason.
Ritualization is a technique purposefully employed to create consistency, routine, and a sense of order and control in our lives.
It helps us do more in less time and increases productivity.
Makes sense right?
It’s also smart (or I wouldn’t be sharing it).
Ritualization is the process of creating rituals, or habits, to conserve mental energy.
Ritualization allows you to execute activities effectively without getting tired.
It allows you to be productive during an activity without using up resources for future productive activities.
It creates habits of productivity in the brain and in your life.
Think of that friend or family member you have that seems to get so much done during the day, you don’t know how they do it.
Or that person at work who keeps getting promoted because they get so much done.
Not that jerk who sucks up to everyone or your boss’s son, but the guy or girl who is massively productive and keeps earning more and more success.
As if they are superhuman or have learned some secret to level up in everything they do.
How do they do it?
Creating and stacking habits is the most effective way, and one of the only ways, to scale your productivity levels and to scale your success.
Why Morning Rituals Increase Productivity
Your brain feeds on habits.
This is because creating habits is the best and fastest way to free up your mental energy.
Studies show that when mice are put into a cheese maze, their brain activity is robust and intense.
The mice sniff and claw the walls, analyzing every part of the maze as they race through it to find the cheese at the end.
Here’s the interesting part: if the mice are put in the same maze day after day, they find the cheese faster, but their overall brain activity decreases.
But less brain activity?
How is this possible?
The mice have ritualized the process of finding the cheese.
They’ve formed a habit.
During ritualization, a tiny part of your brain, called the basal ganglia, takes over a series of actions so that you no longer have to actively concentrate or make decisions.
Like muscle memory for your brain.
In this way, your brain conserves mental energy.
The brain is always looking for ways to be more efficient.
Ritualization makes the brain efficient.
Ritualization saves willpower.
Ritualization is what allows you to tie your shoe or brush your teeth without thinking about it.
After you learn the ritual and it becomes a habit, your brain doesn’t have to expend a lot of energy to complete the task anymore.
It becomes an automatic function — you do it without thinking about it, without concentrating on it.
It’s called synaptic pruning.
Synaptic pruning begins in newborn brains and just keeps going.
It explains why adults have fewer neurons than newborns, but are more skilled.
The brain has become more efficient.
Every time you create a new habit, synaptic pruning happens.
Here’s the key, creating any kind of ritual, including a morning ritual, relies on sandwiching a routine between a strong trigger and a strong reward.
The routine can be anything, like eating a healthy breakfast, picking out your clothes for the day in 10 seconds instead of 10 minutes, going for a morning run, writing for an hour, or getting up early to work on a plan for your own business.
But what if you’re just not a morning person?
Not everyone is a morning person.
There is independent variability for levels of productivity: where morning people and evening people are most productive during different peak times according to their “type,” says the research in Ergonomics Journal. But anecdotally, it’s undisputed that the most successful, productive people follow some consistent morning rituals.
In fact, The Journal Of Applied Social Psychology published a study that showed that “morning people” are more proactive than evening types.
People that wake up approximately the same time every day, weekday or weekend, are also more productive.
Want to ditch your nasty procrastination habit?
Hate feeling lazy and unmotivated?
Start looking into morning routines to create patterns of success for every area of your life and work.
How To Create A Morning Ritual That Sticks
The only way to make the routine stick is to put a strong trigger in front of it and a strong reward behind it.
What’s the best kind of trigger?
What’s the best reward?
The best triggers and rewards are other habits, especially long standing habits that you’ve had essentially forever.
This is called habit stacking.
First, make a list of all of your current, established, daily habits.
Second, write out a list of new habits that you’d like to adopt.
Then pick one and add it to the first list, at a place where it makes sense for you to add it in.
Top morning rituals borrowed from successful people that you might consider starting with would include:
- –getting up earlier to start your day
- –exercising first thing in the morning
- –setting aside an hour of concentrated work to a new project, article, or business plan
- –tackling the most challenging item on your agenda
- –practicing meditation/visualization/gratitude
- –connecting with your partner and/or kids
Here are 3 strategies to help you set yourself up for success…
1. Create a strong habit trigger.
Time, location, environment — these can all be “triggers” for bad habits as well as good ones.
The trigger is the reminder — the slot that you’re going to insert your new ritual.
Time is an obvious trigger.
Your morning routine that you’ve been doing since you were a child.
Get up. Eat breakfast. Brush your teeth.
This time of day is a powerful trigger for stacking a habit — it’s the first one we create rituals around.
Morning routines are powerful in that our morning has the longest duration of regular routines or rituals that we’ve been doing for years.
This is why most productivity experts suggest adding a workout to your morning routine and stacking it after a set of previously defined rituals.
For example, studies show that people who workout first thing after waking up in the morning (trigger) or first thing after getting home from work (trigger) are more likely to stick to their routines.
Your morning coffee, your afternoon snack break, your after work drink.
These are all times when you could add in a new habit you want to include like exercise, meditation, new eating habits, and other areas of new learning.
It’s important to be specific: after (or before) I brush my teeth, I’m going to floss — every day.
Instead of after work drinks I’m going to go to the gym — right after I turn off my computer.
Environment is another powerful trigger.
We develop habits about our environment, including the people we spend time with.
If you’re trying to develop healthy eating habits, such as a morning breakfast routine, stock your pantry and kitchen with healthy options conducive to that goal.
If you’re trying to focus on working on your business for the first hour of the day, set up your work space in advance to facilitate that.
Be strategic with the time that you set your new habit to take place, and be specific.
Be equally strategic with your environment to prepare your surroundings, including the people around you, so that your success is maximized.
When it comes to morning routines, study successful, productive people and model their morning routines and habits.
2. Avoid decision fatigue and willpower depletion.
One of the reasons morning ritualization is so powerful is because willpower is highest in the morning.
Willpower depletes over the course of the day — particularly by late afternoon.
Morning rituals like exercise, goal-setting, and tackling your top 3 most important tasks take this into account.
Accomplishing your biggest task of the day before breakfast — often referred to as “eating the frog first” — saves you a ton of mental energy agonizing over the looming task for the rest of the day.
It sets you up for a more successful mindset.
Incidentally, these are consistent areas that top achievers incorporate into their mornings too.
Your chances of being consistent in any task that requires focus and new mental energy — like any new habit or task — is lower the longer the day goes on.
As much as you might not feel like a morning person, the faster you tackle your high focus activities and the habits that you want to add into your life, the higher your chances of success.
The tasks you accomplish as part of your morning routine will increase your overall productivity, simply by maximizing your emotional and mental energies when they are at their peak.
As the day wears on, your mental and emotional energy depletes, and your physical energy depletes as well.
If you wait until the afternoon, you’ll lose peak productivity when you’re functioning at your highest.
This is when you feel less sharp mentally, find it harder to make decisions, are more apt to fall back into unhealthy or lazy patterns of behavior.
This is also when you’ll notice reading the same paragraph of text 6 times and not retaining any of the information.
This is when the same task accomplishment takes 3X as long to complete and requires caffeine and stimulants to propel you through.
It’s like college cramming, but in the middle of the day.
You aren’t going to retain information, you’re going to be slow, and it’s going to suck.
If you can nail your morning routine and maximize your productivity early in your day, your momentum towards your goals will skyrocket.
You’ll also have the latter part of your day to structure in habits more attuned with rest and relaxation, family time, and leisure activities.
3. Reward yourself for each micro- and macro-routine.
As much as we are motivated by pain and fear, we are also motivated by pleasure and reward.
The brain likes, and is stimulated by, having goals and rewards to anticipate.
After the trigger, there needs to be the reward.
Savoring the accomplishment immediately after you accomplish it.
Setting up a way to track your success in a way that gives you a visual representation of your progress.
The key is to reward yourself for every micro-routine within your overall morning routine.
Remember, a morning routine is composed of a bunch of stacked habits.
Don’t wait until the end of the routine to reward yourself.
Reward yourself at consistent intervals throughout the larger routine, if not after every single habit within the routine.
Additionally, reward yourself for each macro-routine.
For example, after one week of executing your morning routine each day, what’s the reward?
What’s the celebration after a month?
Again, be specific and strategic. Set up your rewards when you know your willpower might be waning.
Grab accountability partners and have like-minded people join you in creating and sticking to your morning rituals and motivating you when you start to backslide.
Set up celebrations that are relevant and matter to you, reinforcing the meaning and how important the new habit is to you.
Once you have successfully created one new habit through habit stacking and constructing triggers and rewards for success, you have to keep going.
The easiest way to create a morning ritual is to start the ritual by waking up, which is a habit you’ve been executing since you were alive, and to stack the other habits you want to add on top of it, like eating a healthy breakfast, exercising, working on a project.
For good measure, you can stick in other long-standing habits like brushing your teeth, showering, and getting dressed, into your morning ritual at key points to keep it going.
Just remember to keep celebrating your wins — both micro and macro.
In this way you can easily put new positive habits into your life and continue to scale up your productivity.
You don’t have to be a morning person to establish new routines in your life that will radically increase your productivity. Successful people have meaningful morning rituals in place that set them up for productive days and maximum efficiency. Follow the principles of stacking habits on other established habits such as brushing your teeth or making your morning coffee. Set up rewards to keep yourself motivated and reward yourself for success. Set up a morning ritual that is aligned with your overall goals and spend your mornings in high productivity.
To learn more about how to develop lifelong habits that lead to a successful life, and to get instant access to exclusive training videos, case studies, insider documents, and my private online network, get on the Escape Plan wait list.