If you are starting your day liking posts on FB, checking the news, your crypto portfolio, your bank accounts or delving into the pile of emails in your inbox. Chances are, you are setting yourself up with some pretty unhealthy habits. Now I understand this isn’t the case for everyone, but hear me out, and I’ll step you through the process of setting up your morning routine for better health.
Today’s fast-paced world and instant access to just about any kind of information on the internet has left many of us struggling to prize ourselves away from technology.
This continual information and reliance on technology means that our energy is scattered, and we are re-wiring our brains for quick dopamine fixes and lack of motivation. Essentially, we are altering our dopamine rewards response1 and potentially changing the grey matter in our brains2.
If we are continually seeking knowledge outside of ourselves to understand our own lives better, we end up diluting our essence or energy and end up with very little for ourselves. This can commonly lead to a lack of motivation, reduced concentration and overwhelm.
Sharpening your axe
The way we begin our day dictates, in some way, how our day will continue.
If you give yourself big doses of quick–fix dopamine and dilute your energy at the start of the day by checking the news or your emails, how do you suppose your day will get better?
Getting things done and achieving your targets often takes planning. And one of the most famous metaphors comes from a quote by Abraham Lincoln, he said: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Now, these days, you would pull out your trusty chainsaw and get the job done in a couple of hours, probably less.
But the saying “sharpening your axe” is talking about the axe being YOU and the tools of your trade. If you keep using your axe, day in and day out and then keep working with a dull and blunt axe, you’re going to get to the point where you can no longer perform your job correctly.
Sure, you can start your days earlier and work later to get your work done.
But this still won’t fix your blunt axe.
Take care of your axe
So if we go back to how you start your day, and you think about all of the things you have to do. Maybe you have a huge to-do list, perhaps you have some children to care for and maybe, you’re trying to get ahead in life.
If you distract yourself at the start of the day with everything going on in the world, you’re not preparing yourself for a productive or stress-free day.
So here is what you need to do.
You need to allocate at least an hour at the start of the day to “sharpen your axe”. This means you’re not turning on the telly; you’re not going to turn on your phone or your computer. Heck, I suggest that if you have children and can get away with it, get up before them (if that’s even possible).
While you might say, I’m not a morning person; I can’t do that. My response is – go to bed an hour earlier then.
Take that hour in the morning to work on yourself; you might be half asleep for the first few days of your new routine, but believe me, you’re going to start feeling a whole lot better about approaching your day.
How do I sharpen my axe?
For everyone, sharpening their axe will be a little bit different. But here, I will give you a few examples of my suggestions for starting your day.
The first is physical activity; starting your day with a brisk walk, some yoga, pilates, or weight training gets your lymphatic, circulatory and respiratory systems working. This is particularly effective for people who don’t like mornings – sounds counterproductive, right? But try it yourself; you might be surprised how much better you will feel.
The second is mindfulness or meditation. Just as physical activity can bring you back into your body, meditation is the key to better functioning of your mind and thought processing. This is perfect for people who have busy minds and spend their days communicating and interacting with colleagues.
The third is a literal interpretation of “sharpening your axe”. Spend some time cleaning up your workspace, preparing your meals for the day or indulging in some basic self-care, like showering, shaving or washing your hair. This is particularly good for people who never have time to do things for themselves; if you make time for yourself in the morning, you’re not going to feel as compromised when others want more from you.
So imagine taking that extra time to look after yourself before starting your day, rather than leaving it until your next holiday or some time in the future, when you think you might have time.
Having a good sharp axe will mean that you are more grounded and robust in your energy, you won’t feel so distracted or drawn to the desire for quick dopamine fixes, and you will find your days more balanced, structured and healthy.
Over a more extended period, what you will find is that you feel less stressed, more in control of your life and more capable of doing what you need to get done without worrying about having a blunt axe. This, of course, means better, healthier relationships and better physical and emotional health in the long run.
- Peraman R, Parasuraman S. Mobile phone mania: Arising global threat in public health. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2016;7(2):198-200. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.184712
- Juliane Horvath, Christina Mundinger, Mike M. Schmitgen, Nadine D. Wolf, Fabio Sambataro, Dusan Hirjak, Katharina M. Kubera, Julian Koenig, Robert Christian Wolf, Structural and functional correlates of smartphone addiction, Addictive Behaviors, Volume 105, 2020, 106334, ISSN 0306-4603, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106334.
The information provided in this article is for information purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. We recommend you consult with a GP or other healthcare professional before taking any action based on this article. While the author uses best endeavours to provide accurate and true content, the author makes no guarantees or promises regarding the accuracy, reliability or completeness of the information presented. If you rely on any information provided in this article, you do so at your own risk.