My morning routine, like many others’, has been engrained in me for the past few years: I’d hit the snooze button a few times, wake up, scroll through social media, get ready for work, and leave.
Over the past couple of months, I noticed that I was going through the motions of my day, but felt numb. I didn’t feel creative, even though I’m a writer at a creative agency; I didn’t feel motivated, even though I knew I had specific short-term goals; and I felt tired, even though I was getting plenty of sleep.
I had been listening to a podcast by Melyssa Griffin, Pursuit with Purpose, for a couple weeks when one particular episode hit a nerve. Her guest that week was Jim Kwik, the founder of Kwik Learning. He spoke about his learning challenges as a kid and how he overcame them. He offered great insight on how to “hack your brain” and improve your health.
I still need to listen to the episode again, so I can actually write down notes, but I did manage to get one thing out of it: a new routine.
Kwik listed what he does every morning in the first hour of his day, so I adopted the same behavior. Here’s how it’s turned out so far:
Remember my dreams and write them down.
I always used to wake up and think, “That dream was insane.” By the end of that thought, all memory of the dream was gone.
Now every morning, I wake up and write down as much of my dreams as I can remember. At first, I could only remember the very last thing that happened before I woke up. As time went on, I was able to remember more and more. It’s gotten to a point where I sloppily write down three or four different dreams from the night.
Brush my teeth with my non-dominant hand.
I’m still practicing this one. I do it every morning, but it still feels odd to do it. The reason for it, Kwik says, is simple (kind of):
The left side of your brain controls the right side of your body. The right side of your brain controls the left side of your body. Actively using one side of your body exercises the corresponding part of the brain. So, we righty’s are frequently exercising the left side of our brains, because we typically use our right hand for small mechanical movements. By activating the left side of our bodies more often, we’re working out a lesser used side of the brain, thus making our brains stronger.
Because the right side of the brain is associated with creativity, using the left sides of our bodies can help with creativity. (Kwik goes into more detail about what each part of the brain really controls. I was driving while listening, so I didn’t write it all down, but it’s important to know.)
Make my bed.
I had heard this before listening to this episode, but I finally put the advice into action. Having a neater room helps quiet the chaos in your head. Makes sense.
Making your bed in the morning also means you have accomplished something in the first hour of the day.
Making my bed has helped me feel more relaxed when I get home from work. It has also helped me feel more productive throughout the day.
This isn’t the same as writing down what my dreams were the night before. I normally free write. Sometimes I fill the page with whatever words pop into my head. Sometimes I write down any anxious thoughts I’m having. Other times, I write my feelings about something that’s weighing heavily on me or thoughts about new ideas.
I never write a lot—between a sentence and a page—but I make sure to write something.
I don’t use my phone for the first hour of the day.
I inevitably see my phone screen at the start of each day because of my alarm. Once I shut the alarm off, my phone goes down and isn’t touched again until I’m heading out the door. I don’t even feel like I need to explain this one, but I will say that staying away from my phone in the morning has decreased my time on it throughout the day.
My new routine has undoubtedly made me happier. Maybe it’s because I don’t start my days reading political rants on Facebook, or maybe it’s because I’m starting my days with accomplishments. Whatever the reason may be, I’m grateful for it.
If you’re interested in learning more about Jim Kwik or want to hear more about pursuing your purpose, I highly recommend listening to Melyssa’s podcast.