I am in training... again. In a few weeks I am going to attempt to run 147 miles along the Viking Way path in Lincolnshire (http://www.vikingwayultra.com/). Should be fun? I prefer to get my running done first thing and have the rest of the day to spare. It feels like it impacts less on work and family life that way. In the winter it is not easy. It is dark and cold both on leaving and returning and I try various tricks to get myself out of bed each morning. I am finding it increasingly hard.
If you will bear with me last night I stumbled upon a very useful description of the importance of having a morning ritual that certainly struck a chord with me.
Tools of Titans
At the moment I am reading Tim Ferriss's book Tools of Titans. Tim wrote the 4 hr work week and has in the last few years produced a regular podcast in which he attempts to deconstruct world class performers and leaders and find out what techniques and learned behaviours they use to try and reproduce them. Tools of Titans is essentially a collection of these tips. It is not a short book and, as Tim advises, should be dipped in and out of. I would recommend giving both his podcast and his book a try for anyone. Anyway last night I was reading another book that Tools of Titans had referenced - Slipstream time hacking: how to cheat time, live more, and enhance happiness Benjamin Hardy - and I was just about to put it down, conscious that I had a 5:45 am start, when the subject changed to morning routines. I had started to question the value of my morning routine. Simply put it involves getting up at 5:45 am then getting dressed and getting out the door for an hours' run then back for breakfast with the kids and being at my desk for 8 am. Benjamin talks about the importance of keeping a morning routine that is easy to follow, structured and regular. This way you are setting the pace for the day and reducing decision fatigue.
Psychologists have found that the more decisions that a person makes, the less power they have to make later decisions - something that certainly rings true from my days working as a GP when I used to find any decision on returning from work seemed nigh on impossible. Benjamin also then talked about the difference he felt if he slept in and I realised he was right. On the days I "slept in" (by that I mean getting up at 6:30 am rather than 5:45 am) I didn't get to work any earlier and I felt much better and more positive on the days I did get up early and this lasted throughout the day. Benjamin describes that the morning ritual sets your day on the course of your choosing. He advises against checking your email or answering the phone during the first few hours of the day and that checking your email is simply a database of other people's agendas (what a great way to describe it I thought). Therefore if you check your emails at the beginning of the day you have already set the pattern that your day is not going to be designed by you, but someone else.
I found this enormously helpful and instead of checking emails this morning I am sharing this here. I didn't exactly leap out of bed this morning at 5:45 am but it certainly felt easier.
Tim Ferriss can be found at: fourhourworkweek.com/blog/
and both books listed about are on amazon and other main suppliers.
Dr Duncan Walling
Director (Founder), FourteenFish