The Perfect Nomad Morning Routine For More Happiness, Less Stress, and More Productivity
A few months ago, I read a book called The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. It completely changed my life in many ways. One of the biggest ways, was that it taught me how habits ACTUALLY work…and how being in control of your habits is pretty much the most powerful way that anyone has access to, that can completely alter your life path.
So I got fascinated by the study of them, and more interestingly…in the actual process of changing mine. The results, unsurprisingly, have been amazing. I have wound up sticking to a diet (slow carb) for the first time in my life, which has lead me to lose 30 pounds in a few months…I have been wildly productive in my entrepreneurial endeavors, and I feel like I’m getting more and more control over my days.
One of the most important parts of this transformation…was creating and installing a new “Morning Routine” that would help me to get on the “right path” for getting the things done that I want to, to further my digital nomad goals.
These include making money, creating better and better content, staying healthy, and working in education as well.
Here’s what I came up with as a “daily morning win routine”… and I’ve been using it for about 2 months now, and I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life.
Step 1. Coffee
It might seem silly to mention it, but coffee remains a part of my daily checklist. Some day I may alter this one (which is the beauty of installing a routine…you can just go back in and tweak it later, once you’ve gotten it moving along nicely and have tested the results)…but for now, coffee is something that doesn’t hurt my health and diet, I genuinely enjoy it…and rather than just waiting around to see whether I get coffee or not, I include it in my daily routine that I do BEFORE I can sit down to do any work. It relaxes me, sometimes it’s a social event too. I just wanted to make sure it’s part of my pre-work routine.
Step 2. Gratitude
This one was difficult for me at first, but I believe that it was instrumental in helping me even establish the habit of creating habits. I started hearing all over that writing in a journal every day (Like the “Morning Pages” exercise) can be extremely beneficial for anyone who wants to develop their creative muscle…but specifically for anyone who wants to do any sort of creative writing.
Beyond this…the science behind happiness shows that GRATITUDE is one of the #1 recurring factors in people who are happier, calmer, more relaxed, and even more productive.
But how to remember to be more grateful?
I heard about something called the 5 Minute Journal from Tim Ferriss’s podcast. He said he uses it every day, and it helps to train you to look for gratitude. So I picked one up…
You write down just 3 things every day in the journal that you’re grateful for. I think this too has had a powerful transformational effect.
First, the tiny act of writing something every day (even something that takes 5 or fewer minutes) at first required a tremendous amount of discipline. At first, it was nearly painful to get myself to stick to the routine (I hadn’t had much practice sticking to routines in my life). But I tried a technique suggested by the creators of the book, of just committing to 5 days of sticking with it, and then re-evaluating.
This technique worked to get me through the extreme discomfort of having to change a behavior, and my brain screaming out that I didn’t need to do this, that I already “Got” the point…and that I was too “busy” to write things down in a journal.
But when you take even 30 seconds in the morning to open up the “Gratitude Meter” in your brain…it seems to put you on an entirely different path for the day. You’re more likely to be tuned into good things in your life than bad. It’s super important.
Step 3. Meditate
Every study ever shows that meditation is one of the most beneficial ways to start your day. It helps you regulate your emotions, it keeps you healthier, and most importantly for being productive…the practice of meditation is literally the practice of “returning to the path” after you get distracted. I never realized this before.
It’s like training your brain to be more and more focused.
One of the things that digital nomads, entrepreneurs, and work from home employees have is battling distraction. If you can’t win this battle then you’re finished.
But meditation helps to train you to deal with distraction. The only way to deal with it is to acknowledge it, and then return to the path of whatever it was you were focusing on.
The reason I installed even 30 seconds of meditation into my daily routine is because I not only want to start my day by looking for the more positive things in life, but I also want to start the productive day off from a place of having control over my focus. And even 30 seconds of meditation helps me do that.
Step 4. Eat (Healthy)
This one got installed into the daily morning routine because I found that my eating habits were inconsistent. Some days I would “feel” like making breakfast, sometimes I wouldn’t, or I would think that I (again) “don’t have time” to eat breakfast.
But what would happen on those days would be that I would end up feeling tired/running out of steam within a few hours…usually at my “peak” productivity hours…because I would forget to eat.
It sounds silly to have to remind yourself every day to eat…but apparently I wasn’t doing a great job at that, and it was affecting my productivity. So I installed a checkbox of “have you eaten SOMETHING yet?” into my daily morning routine. It’s boring, but its effective for keeping me on track later in the day instead of going into starvation mode…which would make me want to do things like fall off my diet, which I don’t want to do.
Step 5. Feed Your Brain
This one is probably the most “fun” for me…and doesn’t feel like it takes much discipline at all.
Basically, going along with the theme of putting myself into the right mindset for the rest of the day…I wanted to make sure that every day I got an opportunity to hear from someone smarter than me about a topic that specifically was going to make me smarter.
Once again…before installing the routine, it was something that would sometimes happen…sometimes wouldn’t. Some mornings I would spend hours watching youtube videos or listening to an audiobook because I had been starving for intellectual nourishment…
And some days I would forget.
So I installed the “Brain Food” habit.
My favorite types of brain food? I like things that keep me going in the creativity/productivity path…
But here’s the important part: I want them to be relatively short.
I think the best place to find this kind of delicious brain food is Brian Johnson’s Philosopher’s Notes.
Specifically, his youtube channel, called Philosopher’s notes TV.
It’s amazing. Within 15 minutes, he reviews an incredible book that’s designed to positively impact your life…
He also has a podcast for the days when I would rather listen.
It puts me in the best mindset for productivity.
Step 6. Exercise
This one is the hardest for me, since I’ve never really had an exercise routine. But obviously every study ever, plus the most common of sense tells you that exercise makes you better at everything…healthier, happier, more productive, smarter, able to concentrate better, better memory, etc.
So I decided to add it to the daily routine.
The thing is…I knew that if I went overboard with this commitment…it wouldn’t last long…and then my whole routine would fall apart. And I don’t want that. So I decided to start small.
Basically, to check the “exercise” box off my morning checklist, all I have to do is even ONE act of deliberately pushing myself physically.
Even one push up.
The point isn’t to get ripped in 10 days. The point is to establish the expectation in my body and mind that at least once a day, I’m going to do something purely for the benefit of my body’s health.
This has worked out well.
What happens naturally is once you establish the habit, you gradually increase the intensity.
So while I still maintain that all I NEED to do is just one pushup…some days when I feel up to it I do a lot more…or I go for a jog/run or something like that.
I think it’s really important to start where you’re at with small victories and build up slowly.
It’s also really important to build a flexible routine if you plan on being a digital nomad…you can’t always rely on having access to a gym every single day. But a habit of at least one pushup you can do anywhere in the world, guaranteed.
Step 7. Journal
Lastly, this one has been pretty impactful (plus I think that GIF is hilarious).
The advice came from many of the accomplished authors that I heard on the Tim Ferriss podcast . I don’t remember which guests, but several of them, and Tim himself, mentioned this idea of a daily journaling habit.
He said that it helps him to pour the chattering thoughts from his head out onto a page…so that he can get back to being productive, basically.
I found myself many days getting “clogged up” mentally with all of my fears, doubts, questions, problem solving, etc running amok in my head. So this sounded like a great idea.
I’ve tried it out. I’m using the “Morning Pages” routine, which involves simply hand-writing 3 pages of free-form. Write whatever comes to mind that day. It’s important to know that just like with every once of these other routines, several things were true:
- I wanted the routine to be sustainable even if I’m traveling, and even if I don’t have access to the “perfect” settings/equipment etc.
- I wanted the routine to help me get closer to my goals
- The routine was difficult in the beginning…my mind was kicking and screaming, because it felt “uncomfortable”
- In the beginning I started as small as possible…and have worked my way up.
I believe that last part is absolutely crucial. Starting as small as possible. Then once the habit gets established, you can move it up slowly.
For the journaling example, I first started off by committing that I would write even just ONE single word in an evernote doc every day.
Even if I didn’t feel like it, felt too busy, etc…I could always have time for at least one word.
And over time, once my brain adjusted to that being a consistent routine…it started to be ok with moving it up to a paragraph or two…and then I started to ENJOY my daily journaling…
So I moved up to the hand-written Daily Morning routine…and it’s amazing. It helps to get me into a Creative state.
So that’s it.
That’s my perfect digital nomad morning routine.
They’re all things that can be done in 5 minutes total if necessary…or can be longer when I have the time.
Plus, they can all be done from anywhere in the world, not depending on any particular place, people, equipment, etc. (Except perhaps the coffee…but it’s one of the most universal an inexpensive materials in the world).
So…what’s your daily routine like? Feel free to comment below.