Hello, hello, hello.
Oh no, definitely not. Three hello’s sound awful. That sounded way better in my head.
Eh, where were we?
OH, yes. Hello! How’s it going?
If you didn’t know by now because you know, It’s not like I’ve spoken about it a gazillion times or anything: I’m a fan of routine.
It makes life easier. I don’t have to think about things – or at the least, things of low utility –, and sets me up for a better day.
And all great routines consist of ritualz [yes, with a Z]. An intentional sequence of things done daily for an intended purpose; namely: a more productive, healthy and focused day.
See, I recently read Cal Newport’s [phenomenal] book, Deep Work: Rules For Focussed Success in a Distracted World, as a result of which I’ve been on a new habit creation kick, namely: to excise my addiction to social media.
No. Really. It’s that bad.
While I may write about my adventures on escaping the digital Matrix sometime in the future, rituals have been a key part of creating better habits.
So, today I wanted to share some my core rituals.
I do these [mostly] every day and am finding them extremely useful. And, I hope, if you so wish to adopt some ritualz of your own, will help give you an idea of things you can do.
NB – I have morning [AM] rituals and evening [PM] rituals. I’ve split them up below to make for easier reading.
–Make My Bed
I stole this from Tim Ferriss. Tim talks about ‘winning the day’, simply – doing small things in the morning that set you up with the right mindset for the day ahead.
Making your bed in the morning acts as one of these small wins, and as you tick it off your mental checklist, you get a rush of endorphins that make you feel warm and fuzzy; in turn, you carry this positive, winning mentality with you throughout the day.
–Drink Water Upon Waking
Yes, yes. I know. Really? But you’d be surprised how many people forget to do this.
While coffee is most definitely on my to-drink list in the morning, I make it a priority get a nice, cold glass of water down first.
Simply drinking one glass of water [around 500ml] helps rehydrate you after an 8 hour period of not drinking, will help boost mental performance, and more importantly, helps you distinguish between hunger and cravings.
Point – Water is awesome; now go drink some el agua.
I started meditating last year and while I was a bit dubious about the whole thing at first – mainly because unlike the Jedi, I did not manage to move shit with my mind. Which, I should add, is totally false advertising by the Jedi’s. So fuck you, Yoda – I found it helped a ton with cultivating discipline into other areas of my life. Specifically dieting [which I wrote about here].
To cut a very long, and boring, story short: I quit meditating after 3 months and noticed how much not meditating impacted me. So, I’ve thrown it back in recently and am feeling much better.
–100 Pushups, 100 Squats
I aim to do 100 pushups and 100 bodyweight squats in the morning. It gets blood flowing, I burn some extra calories and get my CNS fired up.
Also, as a purely anecdotal aside – since I’ve started doing these two exercises in the morning, I’ve noticed two things:
- The joint pain I felt in my shoulders, knees and elbows from benching and squatting has dissipated. Matt Perryman spoke about this in his book ‘Squat Everyday’, positing that it’s to do with improved blood flow into the pain area.
- I’ve been feeling much better muscle contractions during gym sessions.
I have a small journal where I write down all the things, regardless how small or big, that I’m thankful for.
It really puts life into perspective.
Hungry because you chose to lose fat? Aww, that’s cute when there are people starving in the world.
– Read Philosophy
I like starting my day with advice from some of History’s biggest badasses. And, you don’t get any more badass than the great Philosophers of old.
And, sure, you might disagree. But you’re wrong.
To give you an example, here’s a quote from Marcus Aurelius that I’ve printed off and placed next to my bed:
At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?’
— But it’s nicer in here …
So you were born to feel ‘nice’? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?
— But we have to sleep sometime …
Agreed. But nature set a limit on that — as it did on eating and drinking. And you’re over the limit. You’ve had more than enough of that. But not of working. There you’re still below your quota.
Or, how about this:
“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly.
They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine.
And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him.
We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower.
To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”
Reading passages like this in the morning helps remind me to control what I can, and not stress over what I can’t – one of the key tenets of Stoicism.
*All the links I’ve provided are the best translations of the text.
– Walk [outside in nature] 30 Mins
I’ve spoken about the benefits of walking as a means to increase NEAT before. But, walking is extremely cathartic, especially when done out in nature.
I’m lucky to live in the suburbs of London, and so there are a lot of tree’s and like, you know, other nature type stuff, where I can walk and de-stress.
It’s also when I have my best ideas.
Load up a podcast, or audiobook and you’re good to go.
– Write [& Draw]
Well, I mean, this was undoubtedly going to be on the list, seeing that It’s what I do.
While writing helps me collate and organise my thoughts, I also find it extremely cathartic.
Starting off my day with journaling helps get rid of the ‘junk thoughts’ – the remnants left over from the day before that my brain didn’t organise. Once these are out, I can get on with actual productive writing.
I also draw quite a bit, ok, fine, they’re really just doodles and scribbles, but, it helps ”warm-up” my brain before a writing session.
Ok. So those were my AM rituals.
Now, let’s take a look at my PM ritualz.
–Walk [outside in nature] 60 Mins
Around 6/7pm, I’ll go for another walk. This is simply to clear my head after a day’s worth of working, thinking and reading.
Now. What makes this walk different from the AM walk, is this: I don’t listen to anything. No podcasts, no music, no audiobooks. Nada.
This walk is active meditation. I try not to think of anything [mentally taxing, anyway] and just let my brain recover.
Instead of feeding it more stuff, I let it – mainly my subconscious – do its thing.
Often If I’m struggling with an article, idea or any problem for that matter, it’s usually during these active meditation walks that my subconscious delivers to me a solution.
It’s pretty uncanny stuff.
–Fill in Daily Habit & Day Tracker
I’ve recently started tracking my day and activities in a lot more, scrutinising, detail. Like with your physique goals, if you don’t track something it’s hard to manage it.
The trackers are helping me see trends in my day to day activities – when am I most productive? when am I most distracted, why? How many times am I checking, or feeling the urge to check social media? Even recording what I ate and how this impacted productivity and performance [work and gym] – gathering this data is helping me better understand how I work and what’s causing me to become distracted and procrastinate.
Getting to the root of the problem means I can start working towards remedying the issue/s. 
–Write To-do List for Next Day
I spend the evening making a to-do list for the next day.
I’ll also collect and print off research, get all my notes together [Evernote and physical paper] and have everything ready for the next days worth of writing.
In the past, the biggest reason I’d struggle with getting productive writing done was because I’d show up and then spend the morning thinking about what to write– which was a ridiculously stupid idea.
Writing out what I need to do, and having everything in place to be able to do so, means I have a focused plan for what needs to get done. As a result, I’m now 10x more productive 
– Read [Fiction]
I start the day with a good book, and I like to end the day on the same note.
Reading a good fiction book helps me sleep better and gives the signal to my brain to start ‘shutting down’.
So, those are my daily ritualz.
There are days when I’ll be spot on and do everything listed here. And there are days when I’ll screw up [wake up late, forget etc.] and only do some of them. No biggie.
The main thing is to do something – execution over perfection [as I’m constantly reminding myself].
Please note that these are the things I’ve been doing and they most likely will evolve and change over time.
Your ritualz will, and should, be different to mine. Your own ritualz should include things that you enjoy or find beneficial.
- If you finish reading these and want more, hit me up and I’ll send you more recommendations.
- I’ll write about what I’ve been doing to combat my struggles with perfectionism and procrastination and building better habits, sometime in the future.
- Ok, ok. Like, 5x more productive.
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