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Guilty as charged: I screw up my morning routine because of this bad habit. It's time to fix it.

The productivity genre is flooded with the importance of the morning routine. I’ve been examining this topic for a good 5 years now and have tried dozens of setups, tips and tools from all the big names out there: Tony Robbins, Robin Sharma, Brendon Burchard, to mention only a few of them.

I’ve had my fair share of good periods when I found the perfect combination of things to do, in the right order, with a balanced timing and my days were all set up for success. There are ways to develop very influential, good habits, but what happens when you accidentally - or unintentionally - build up a harmful one, too?

During the past 2–3 years my morning routine has changed drastically a few times. First, when I became a dog owner and I had to create a daily rhythm that works for the both of us. Next time when the pandemic hit and I became a full-time remote worker, required me to do something totally different, too. Last time my routine changed when I set my wellness and health goals back in January: switching from daily morning yoga at home to daily morning working out in a gym with a personal trainer.

Sometimes I have to adjust the timing, other times it’s the rituals themselves within the routine that get improved, changed, newly introduced or momentarily discontinued.

I like my current flow, but it’s flawed. The truth is, along the way I’ve developed a habit I know is not doing any good for me. I check work Slack first thing right after I opened my eyes.

The company I work for has a diverse team located in 10+ countries on two continents. The time-zone difference requires many of us to work at odd hours. It’s not the usual 9 to 5, team is in one place — preferably in one office — setting. Timing is essential in our communications. Colleagues in Europe (like me) are 8–10 hours ahead of the ones on the West Coast in the US. A lot can happen while you’re asleep. So, my first action in the morning is to reach for my phone, pull up Slack and skim through the starred channels looking for a task of urgency.

It all started out as a fear. Not FOMO, rather a fear of not acting fast enough, not enabling my colleagues quickly enough or in a timely manner. You see, part of my role is a firefighter. That requires me to respond with urgency. Writing these lines makes me realize how all of this is in my head only. It’s not an acute issue, it has never happened. It’s just an irrational fear.

Yet, it’s there, I’ve built a habit around it and I’m frustrated by it. It’s so bad, that I do it even on my vacation days. Every morning I put myself into work mode within a minute after waking up, and quite frankly into a state of immediate stress, whereas I should be calm, nurturing my soul, my mind and my body during the first 60–90 minutes of the day.

Being a solution oriented person, I know I have to fix this. I have to break the habit.

Acknowledging the issue is the first stepping stone I’m frustrated enough to finally do something about it.

Some years ago I read Atomic habits by James Clear. Here's his quick summary on how to break a bad habit.

It says: "Because bad habits provide some type of benefit in your life, it's very difficult to simply eliminate them. Instead, you need to replace a bad habit with a new habit that provides a similar benefit.

Following these 5 steps outlined in the post, here's the plan I formulated:

  1. Choose a substitute for my bad habit: I choose to reach for my gratitude journal and allocate my first 3-5 minutes to write down what I'm grateful for in the morning, and my affirmations for the day.

  2. Cut out as many triggers as possible: from now on I'm leaving my phone on the kitchen table, and I'll switch it off.

  3. Join forces with somebody: I will tell my sister every morning how did it go.

  4. Visualize yourself succeeding: I can do it while turning off the phone to leave it on the kitchen table every night.

  5. Plan for failure: I know I will fail on some days, but I won't beat myself up.

Right now the pain of inaction is greater than the pain of changing so that’s what I’m going to do. Change.


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