The “Do Nothing” Morning Routine That Took Me 10 Years to Build

Peaceful mornings with simple, life-transforming habits.

The “Do Nothing” Morning Routine That Took Me 10 Years to Build

Peaceful mornings with simple, life-transforming habits.

Before you read this article, I want you to close your eyes and imagine a perfect morning routine — like a cinematic montage.

How beautiful would it be if we had this perfect morning, every day? I’ll tell you how you can make this possible.

It took me 10 years to build an ideal “doing nothing” morning routine.

My perfect mornings are slow.

I begin my day with deep breaths and slowly take time to wash up and clean. Then, I cook my breakfast and brew tea.

I make it a point to eat slowly and mindfully. After breakfast, it’s my time to soak in the sun and go for a quick walk. I usually spend this time with nature and avoid any distractions.

With a clear headspace, I journal my thoughts, goals, and priorities for the day. That’s the cue for my brain to get into work mode.

From the time I wake up to when I finally start working, I usually spend 3 to 4 hours on this slow morning routine.

During this time, I set my intentions for the day and be mindful of my goals and aspirations. I decide what I want to achieve, and it gives my work a sense of purpose.

The peace and calm I gather from a slow morning helps me be more productive throughout the day.

Psychologists confirm that self-care in the morning keeps stress levels in check. With a healthy morning ritual, you stay energized throughout the day and hit your goals faster.

As calming as it all sounds, this slow morning routine didn’t come easy. I kept hitting roadblocks like checking my phone and responding to work messages immediately after waking up. Not setting up an alarm and sleeping in also impacted my journey.

It took me 10 years of dedicated attempts to master this slow morning routine. If you’re a fan of such peaceful mornings, this article is for you.

Here are the top 3 habits that’ll help you build your own “Do Nothing” morning routine and boost productivity and creativity.

Know your priorities before sleeping

Planning in advance is one time-management hack I swear by.

Before implementing this habit, bedtime was about reflecting on the day gone by and contemplating about all I couldn’t do. Unless there was a significant achievement to count, I felt I wasted yet another day.

This habit ultimately led to overthinking and stress.

Cut to now, I sit at night and think of the day I spent while journaling. I also plan all my activities for the next day. This helps me attach a sense of fulfilment to the smallest of tasks without waiting for a massive achievement.

I’ve found bedtime bullet journaling to be helpful in setting priorities before sleeping. This way, I wake up every morning with a sense of purpose and have a list of targets to achieve. It prepares my mind to get into the work zone and accomplish the tasks I’d planned.

With a schedule in place, I can peacefully enjoy a slow morning and the breaks in between. Scientists also believe bullet journaling boosts mental health and helps the mind focus on singular tasks.

A page from my bullet journal from last night. (Image by the author)

How you can implement this

If you search for “bullet journal ideas,” you can easily be overwhelmed by the artistic spreads. None of that is necessary. Keep your journal simple and focus on being regular, not artsy. The only four prompts I use for my bullet journal every day are:

  1. One word intent for the day.
  2. Top 3 priorities (work-wise).
  3. 3 reminders to self, or 3 things you’re grateful for.
  4. 3 words to describe how you want the day to be like.

Plan for an idle morning

Never confuse being idle with being unproductive. Having some idle time is vital for your mind to stay refreshed. It’s just hard to get a time slot to sit and do nothing.

Mornings make the perfect window for this. Give yourself enough time to roll on the bed after waking up. A slow morning routine depends upon when your work day starts.

Say your first appointment of the day is at 10 AM. Factor in 15–20 minutes of commute time (if it’s not a remote task). This means your morning routine has to end by 9:30 AM to be on time.

To maintain this discipline, structure your day properly. As you already know your priorities before sleeping, start time blocking the tasks too.

Time blocking is the habit of dividing your day into blocks of hours and allocating tasks to each time block. The goal of this time management technique is to remove distractions and finish an activity in one go.

This practice is helpful because it curbs down multitasking. The American Psychological Association says multitasking can hit your productivity by 40%. Having a dedicated time slot helps you focus all your mental resources on the task at hand, eliminating distractions.

While time-blocking your morning routine, add time blocks for relaxation, reading, cooking, and other activities you need in a slow morning.

Structure your routine with enough wiggle room to avoid any task overlap.

A glimpse at how I time block my day. Wake up time is 7.30 AM, not included in this. (Image by the author)

How you can implement this

Here are some actionable strategies to efficiently time block your entire day:

  • Identify your priorities, both professional and personal. For example, Lady Gaga dedicates time to gratitude and self-love in the morning. Oprah Winfrey opts for meditation after waking up. Whatever your personal goals are in the morning, identify them in order of priority.
  • Estimate the time you’ll need for each activity in your priority list. Always add some wiggle room.
  • Based on the time estimation, create a time-blocked routine that includes both your personal and professional goals. Don’t forget to schedule breaks.
  • If you feel the schedule is not working, evaluate and adjust accordingly.

Have an accountability partner

Reclaiming a few hours of your day is tough. You’ve to set strict goals for yourself, and it’s easy to lose sight of why you want to build this lifestyle.

It’s crucial to hold yourself accountable. Start by self-regulating your habits. Whenever you skip a healthy habit, penalize yourself.

The penalties can be to stay away from social media for 24 hours, to not watch your favorite show or something that matters to you.

Sometimes, even this method may not work. Then, having an accountability partner like a productivity coach can be helpful.

They’ll actively keep a tab on your habits and help you stay consistent. If having a productivity coach isn’t your jam, you can try “The Seinfeld Strategy.

The Seinfeld strategy comes from the interaction of Brad Isaac with comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Brad asked for advice to “make it” in his work.

Seinfeld suggested being consistent, but even the legendary comedian knew good intention is not enough to follow through to a habit.

So, he asked Brad to get a wall calendar and put a cross on each day he successfully achieves his tasks. Slowly, these cross marks will form a chain, and you’d want to keep it growing. That’s the Seinfeld way to hold yourself accountable and stay motivated.

A look at how I’m tracking my daily writing habit. (Image by the author)

How you can implement this

The whole idea is to have an efficient progress-tracking system in place. Here’s a breakdown of how I practice “The Seinfeld Method” in my daily routine:

  • Set clear goals for yourself, like I want to write daily or practice a new skill.
  • Make a list of all the habits you need to maintain to achieve your goals. (Example — take a walk, write for 1 hour, jot down 10 new ideas and prompts, practice “insert a skill you want to learn,” etc.)
  • Take a physical, wandering calendar that you can carry with you. Use this to track the successful completion of your habit. Once you have a long chain of checkmarks going, you’ll be motivated to continue.
  • Try to keep your tracker close to where you can see it all the time. Using a desk calendar and keeping it at the workstation is the best way for me.
  • Celebrate small successes and reward yourself in healthy ways.
  • Keep it real with yourself. You may miss a few days, if say, you’re sick. The chain on your tracker will break. Instead of being harsh with yourself, keep a wiggle room of two days. Never miss any habit for two successive days, and you’ll still be consistent.

The “doing nothing” morning routine: TL;DR

Having extra time is a luxury, slowly disappearing upon us in modern times. Reclaiming your time, especially in the morning, can’t be easily earned. You have to take deliberate actions with discipline and planning.

Incorporate these three habits in your daily routine to begin your journey towards relaxed mornings:

  • Plan your day ahead before sleeping.
  • Block your calendar for important tasks.
  • Follow an accountability method to stay consistent.

These one-liner habits are simple to read but take a tonne of effort initially.

Stick to these habits no matter what, and soon, you’ll find a few hours lingering around your daily schedule. Capture them and build your slow morning routine, focusing inward for personal growth.

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