One of the most awesome things about freelancing is that you get to choose how to spend those most individual hours of your life.
In other words, you get to decide exactly how to start your day. Today we want to share with you 13 bad-ass morning rituals that will have you winning the freelance game.
As a freelancer, it is entirely up to you what time you roll out of bed, what you will wear for work, what time you will start plugging away and of course how to prioritize your tasks.
Being your own boss means that you are in charge.
Oh yeah! Go ahead and take a bow.
Let’s admit it, it can be tempting to hit the snooze button a span of times, before sleepily emerging from the boudoir, stopping by the coffee percolator before landing at your laptop, still in pjs, ready to start the day.
What a treat, right?
Hmm, maybe not so much actually.
While it is true, you really do have the luxury to make these choices, you may pay for them in the long run by spending more of your precious time working at your desk. By using the golden creative hours in the morning (which is when studies claim that we have the strongest willpower) to complete your most brain-taxing work, you will get more done in a shorter time, and it should be your best stuff too.
Let us add however, if productivity is a problem for you, we have a tremendous resource for you. We have created a top notch Upwork.com Starter Kit to take your online skills next level.
We at FH have honed and tweaked our own morning routines to allow us to get the very best out of our brain juice – and we aren’t alone. Most of the well known freelancers have personalised their rituals to perfection. In fact some would go as far as to say these are the key to their success.
As you look through the following 13 rituals be sure to only take the bits that work with your own preferences. We know that 13 things may sound like a lot – but these are all straightforward and some take only a couple of minutes. They aren’t just more things to add to your to-do list. Have a read through and you will understand.
You can be super rigid with your morning schedule, or take a leaf out of Tim Ferriss’ book, who likes to keep his routine uber-flexible. Remember that your morning should be created to work for your benefit – you are the boss after all!
I don’t have to do anything in this schedule. I choose to do them because I like them. None of them are financially-driven or unpleasant obligations. If the chance to do something more fun comes up last-minute, I can cancel all of them.
– Good for you Tim!
Just by the way, number 2 is non-negotiable. We don’t want you to give freelancers a bad name. 😉
1. Give Yourself A Head Start
Give yourself a head start by getting prepared for your day the night before. Nobody is going to give you a break, so you might as well help yourself out by doing what you can in the evening. Some people like to prepare breakfast (overnight oats yum!), some set their clothes out, some write a to-do list.
Frans from The Habit Sheet literally lays out every item that he will need once he climbs out of bed in a row, so that he can get going before his brain even realizes what is happening. You can watch how he handles early mornings on his YouTube Channel.
Plus while we are at it, switch yourself off at night! Reduce your screen time, and switch off notifications to give yourself a full break from technology.
2. Scrub Your Pegs
Pick up your toothbrush and toothpaste and spend two minutes giving your mouth a good clean. For so many reasons that we don’t need to tell you. 😉
3. Get Hydrated
Chug a nice cool glass of water. Even if you don’t feel outright thirsty, you are. You’ve spent a whole night sweating and breathing, and that uses plenty of water. Replace it asap, as dehydration = a slow brain. The old grey matter is 85% water. 85%!!
4. Be Mindful
Take some time to be quiet. Starting the day with silence is such a blessing, it allows you a chance to connect with your inner self, and enjoy a slice of peace. NB: This can only really work if you resist the temptation to check your smart phone.
We love to spend a few minutes meditating each morning and we would recommend that you test this out for yourself as there are lots of different styles of meditation.
Don’t be put off by the idea if you have never tried. Just start by sitting quietly, thinking of something you are grateful for. Choose an affirmation or chant to read, or simply pose a question – such as ‘How am I going to tackle this task today?’
See what comes up. The trick is to go with the flow. You will find that time spent in quiet meditation will improve your mental clarity and creativity. Plus it will give you some time to yourself!
5. Avoid The ‘Just-Checking’ Trap
Steer clear of social media, emails and other mindless tasks while you complete your morning routine. These will only side-track you from your main tasks. Start out right by putting your phone on airplane mode overnight.
6. Get A Coffee Fix
Go ahead and have a cup of coffee! If coffee is what you like, then don’t fight the urge. You will get a kick out of the caffeine, but more than that – the reward/pleasure aspect you will gain from inhaling the aroma and taking that first sip will also cause the release of dopamine. Mmmmmmm!!
Chuck Longanecker, founder of Digital Telepathy enjoys his cup each morning:
“I’d like to say I meditate each morning, but I don’t. Instead, my morning meditation is making a perfect cup of pour-over coffee. Not only does the coffee wake my body up, but the process of getting the grind right, heating the water to exactly 204 degrees, and brewing by hand wakes up the creative side of my brain. It’s nice to “make” something from scratch to start your day.”
7. Set Your Intention
While enjoying your mug of steaming coffee, take a look over your day’s goals or tasks, and set an intention for the day. Decide on what will be your focus, and ear mark this as your first objective of the day. Check in with yourself every once in a while too as Steve Jobs always did, to check that you are on track with the bigger goals of your life.
For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
8. Get Your Body Moving
Your health comes before the project. Always and always.
Exercising will also release a cocktail of feel-good hormones and clear your mind before your day’s tasks, so jump into action – anyway you choose and get the blood pumping. The following full body workout takes just 7 minutes!
After exercising it is always a great idea to stretch out – even more so if you are about to embark on a full day of sitting on your butt in front of your laptop. Take your long term health into your own hands by mobilizing your joints and stretching your body for a few minutes each day.
We also think that foam rolling is a great thing to do – dispersing lactic acid and giving you a mini-sports massage on the go. Check out this video to explain a little more.
10. Take An Icy Shower
If you are brave enough of course…… after you have showered, turn the water onto cold and let the iciness stream over your body! It will wake you up and get your blood pumping – but potentially more than that too. Take a look at Wim Hof – The Ice Man, who swears by icy baths for his ‘super-human’ abilities and incredible productivity.
11. Eat a Decent Breakfast
Don’t skip it. This doesn’t have to take long – look at Tim Ferriss’ 3 minute wonder breakfast. Whatever you eat for breakfast, be sure that it sets you up for the day. Try to include some healthy fats and protein to keep you satisfied for longer than a piece of toast might.
12. Beware The Dreaded Decision Fatigue
Don’t allow yourself to make too many small decisions first thing, as that can result in something known as ‘Decision Fatigue’. Yes it’s a real thing.
Opt for minimal variation in the start of your day to keep your brain fresh. If that means that you buy yourself a uniform of sorts that you wear everyday, then so be it. You will be in good company, as that is exactly what Barack Obama does too.
13. Start With The Biggest Challenge
Once you are actually dressed, fed and at your desk, choose your most taxing / rewarding task of the day to start with. Then you can use your fresh, shiny, hydrated, endorphin flooded brain to get the biggest job done.
So these are our 13 lucky steps to start the day right. Maybe you have others to add? We would love to hear from you if you do.
Pick and choose to see which resonate with you, and then go ahead and try them out. Your ideal morning routine should FEEL GOOD above all, and evolve with you as you grow and your needs change.
We wouldn’t be anywhere near as productive without our morning rituals. If you feel that you need support in any other area of freelancing be sure to check out our free Upwork.com Starter Kit below: