Creative Experiments
by Martynas Jocius

How to Make Extra Time for Experimental Projects Using Precisely Engineered Morning Routines

(Photo: my morning ritual in 2013 when I was working on my first album "11:11" and an audiobook.)

It was 5:55 AM. My alarm clock rang, as it always does at this time of day. I got up quietly and started executing a very specific set of actions: I went to the kitchen, turned on the kettle, went to the bathroom, came back to the kitchen and poured myself a Pu-erh tea with boiled water. Then I sat down to meditate for 20 minutes using Transcendental Meditation technique that I practice since 2011.

After meditation, I got my tea from the kitchen, turned on a relaxing music track on my headphones, and started journaling. It's not easy to describe that amazing feeling that comes when you connect the vibes of an early morning, good tea, beautiful music, and writing about things that matter.

10 minutes later, I put my journal aside and started my creative work session. I had exactly 1 hour to move myself forward in small, but steady, steps toward my goal, which was to release a new music album called “Flow”.

At 8:00 AM, it felt good to see that small, but real progress, and to know that tomorrow I was going to continue my creative work. So, I put my project aside, took a shower, had breakfast, and went out to the office where I spend days working on my startup.

It was an inspiring morning full of joy and magic. My experimental ambient music album “Flow” was released about 2 weeks after that day.

The structure of my morning ritual

A morning ritual has a potential to increase the willpower, strengthen the spirit, and set a good mood for the day. It also helps accomplish important tasks – those tasks that would normally fail to get attention during the day. Even more, it allows achieve all of this during the time when human nervous system is fresh and full of energy — in the morning.

My personal version of the morning ritual is very simple, and normally follows the following syntax:

  • 5:55 AM - Alarm clock
  • 6:05 AM - Get up and boil water
  • 6:10 AM - Prepare tea and start my 20 min. meditation
  • 6:35 AM - Stop meditating, prepare for journaling
  • 6:40 AM - Listen to music, drink tea, write in my journal
  • 7:00 AM - Producer’s hour starts
  • 8:00 AM - Producer’s hour ends
  • 8:05 AM - Prepare breakfast, do a short workout or some yoga asanas
  • 8:15 AM - Take a shower
  • 8:30 AM - Have breakfast

This structure is flexible. It can change depending on the season, the type of personal project I am working on, and other circumstances. Sometimes I replace my creative hour with book-reading, or use it to finish a number of small tasks.

I think that morning rituals are not required to start early. They work perfectly even if I start at 9 or 10 in the morning. The most important thing is to do it right after getting up, because it sets a good mood for entire day.

It's also important to mention that if I want to get up at 6:00 AM and feel well rested, I need to improve my sleep quality. It's not enough just to go to sleep before 11:00 PM. I must also be conscious of my eating habits and how I spend the last two hours before going to bed. It requires discipline and a daily routine, but that's often the easiest way to protect myself from burnout.

While experimenting with energizing drinks in the morning, I noticed that coffee makes me feel a little too strained, if I use it before 8:00 AM. The energy that comes from coffee burns me out too early in the morning. However, tea with caffeine works a lot better. I like Yerba mate and Pu-erh teas very much. These teas bring energy and clear focus, but also help to retain more energy in the body for the upcoming day.

When I get up in the morning, it's very important for me to find the environment clean and prepared. Every morning minute matters, so it's best to tidy up the kitchen, meditation area, and work space before going to bed. This way I get positive feedback from my environment.

I only use my morning ritual on weekdays, because my weekends are spontaneous and often spent in nature. Meditation can be an exception – it's good to practice it every day if possible.

Things work best when put in the right order

A morning ritual is a great technique. It allows me to have more free time for myself and my family in the evening, as well as more productive time in the morning.

The order of activities in a morning ritual is very important. It’s similar to precisely ordering the words in a sentence to communicate the exact meaning. I believe that the syntax of actions is one of the biggest secrets of productivity.

A morning ritual is an amazing solution for people who want to build an MVP for their new idea, publish a book, or just exercise more - but who lack the time and energy for that.

Developing a morning ritual is an art-form. And it is totally worth trying.