Episode 84

Creating Morning Routines for Teachers

Our LMScast today is about morning routines for teachers like you with much to do and too little time. Joshua Millage and Chris Badgett share their morning routines and discuss how the way you start your day determines the way you’ll end it.

You’re probably eager to build your online courses and start enjoying that income, but you just don’t seem to have time to do the necessary content curation and creation. The solution could be as simple as establishing a morning routine.

Spending an hour or two in the morning taking care of yourself can help you maximize your time throughout day. Especially for teachers, a morning routine can help you get more done, even if you’re working around a 9 to 5 job. Finding more time is vitally important, because building a great online course is time intensive.

Setting a routine to start your day is as much about boosting energy as expanding your time. Addressing the needs of your body, mind, and spirit as soon as you wake up gets you centered, grounded, and wide awake. That makes you more efficient and energetic and is especially helpful when life gets chaotic and priorities change rapidly.

It’s best to start simple with a basic 5 to 10 minute task and add to your routine as you discover what you need. Take care of your body by drinking water, eating something light and nutritious, and doing some exercise. Stimulate your mind with reading or listening to a podcast, but don’t check email or think about work. As little as 5 minutes of meditation can clear your mind and help you focus with clarity. You might want to do journaling or spend a moment visualizing how you want your day to go. Allow yourself the time you need, and remember this time is an investment toward the quality of the rest of your day.

Morning routines for teachers really do help you get more out of your day and make you more productive as a person by giving you a clean slate to create. The true power of habit is that once you begin to reap the rewards of consistent, healthy morning activities you’ll find it easier to follow your routine than not to.

Choosing the right tools to build your courses will also optimize your time and energy. Our LifterLMS development platform is powerful, accessible, and intuitive. Try a demo of lifterLMS today to see how our course development platform works for you.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Joshua: Hello, Everyone. Welcome back to another LMScast episode. We’re switching it up today. Chris and I are actually in-person, which happens a couple times a year, so this is very much a special edition episode.

We’re going to go off the beaten path a little bit today, and we’re going to talk about morning routines for teachers and the importance of setting up a morning routine so that you can maximize your time. We all need more, and the number one thing that I hear when I’m talking about how to build a course or teaching on how to build a course, everyone says, “Well, that’s great, I’ve learned all the tips, I know exactly what I want to teach, I have an outline I just don’t have time to create the content.” For me, dialing in my morning routine allowed me to get 15 minutes back here, an hour back over here. 15 minutes is roughly 1% of your day, so those can add up pretty quickly if you can start to take 15 minutes here, 15 minutes there.

I actually learned most of my morning routine mindset shift from this man right here. Chris, lets just start from the top. What is the most important thing about a morning routine. Why do people need a morning routine? And what does it do to the rest of your day. That’s a handful of questions, but …

Chris: Awesome.

Joshua: I think you know where to go.

Chris: I think people need it and it’s really easy to underestimate the power of habit. Once you have a habit installed successfully, good or bad, it’s going to happen pretty easily without having to think about it. It’s almost like it’s less effort or less painful to do the habit than to not do the habit. Like a good exercise habit once you get into your routine, you actually start feeling guilty or bad and antsy if you don’t exercise 3 times a week or whatever it is you’re doing. Same is true with your morning routine. Once those benefits start compounding you get so excited about all the benefits that you’re like, “Why didn’t I do this sooner, how do I do more of this, how do I make it even more powerful.” That’s the big motivator.

Joshua: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris: As an entrepreneur and as a business person, there’s not enough time in the day. We talk to education entrepreneurs all the time about, yeah, all the information is out there, but your job is to curate that. People are really short on time, including you the teacher, you the instructor, you the entrepreneur. You need to be resourceful and curate your own time a little better too.

Joshua: Curation is a time intensive process. At a very base level you have to consume that content to accurately curate it and to curate well. I remember back in the day I curated a bunch of Mixergy interviews, Mixergy is a podcast for start up entrepreneurs. My buddy Andrew runs it and he does a great job but at that time he had no organization on his site. What I did was I listened to somewhere in the range of 100 to 150 interviews, granted I was sick at the time, I had a cold so I couldn’t really do much else, but it took hundreds of hours to put together a three page document around how I thought he could structure these interviews into a course.

This is before I was in the course building world, this is just something I did for fun, it did instill in me the time constraint that is involved when you go to build an online course. I think, for me, the interesting thing about a morning routine is if you structure it well and you do a handful of things well, it really gives you this momentum early on in your day, which I think helps you get into flow state faster when you’re in your tasks later in the day. It gives you an overwhelming sense of accomplishment when you get just a few things done.

What are some of the things that you do, Chris, you have kind of like a floating scale between an intense morning routine and you also have one where it’s like if things are very constrained. You’re a dad, you’re traveling in a 20 foot travel trailer. It’s pretty crazy what you’re doing to for you to fit either of these in is pretty interesting. Start us off and kind of break down, what are some of the components of yours.

Chris: At the highest level, it’s not just about getting more in your day it’s about making you the person, the human being, more productive.

Joshua: Right.

Chris: You may actually take more time to do the routine but when you do snap in, you hit the ground running. There’s no, “I have to ease into it.” You’re ready to go. I think it’s really important to look at it as a way to manage your energy, not just time. In fact I would put more emphasis on the energy.

I am travelling right now, I’m a family guy, which means from a productivity standpoint things are always shifting and changing, your priorities and chaos can happen instantly. You have to deal with those sorts of things. In terms of what I do, it’s a combination of waking up the body, waking up the mind, waking up the spirit and really getting grounded on all those levels.

The first thing I do is I take care of my body so that’s water. I don’t try to chug the massive amount, just some water. Then I do some food really quickly. For me, I’m going for high fats, so I do avocado and some nuts. I get a high water content piece of fruit. And then I go for a 10 minute walk. That’s the body part. I actually have a really short 5 minute yoga routine which opens up my back and taps into flexibility.

After that, while I’m doing that I listen to a podcast which helps me open up.

Joshua: Sorry about that everyone, my laptop ran out of drive space, so I cleared that out and now he can continue to talk. You were right at your yoga routine. You’ve got all these body components.

Chris: Yeah.

Joshua: That’s where you start, right?

Chris: Absolutely, yeah. Super short, there’s a 3 pose thing that I go through 3 times, it’s very fast. There’s a specific exercise I do to wake up my back muscles. That’s that. While I do that i listen to a podcast that’s not related to business. It’s important that it’s not related to business because I’m waking up my mind but I’m not trying to start a bunch of stress about work or something I’m not doing in terms of marketing or innovation, whatever. Usually it’s some kind of health and fitness podcast that’s turning my brain on without stress. From there, I do meditation. I use an app called calm. I know you use one called Headspace. I just do 5 minutes, that’s all I need. I could do longer but that’s where I’m at. I do all the stuff, take care of my body, take a shower, get ready for the day.

Joshua: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Chris: I have a gratitude journal where I write down the 3 things that would make today great. 3 things I’m grateful for and my daily affirmation. Then I actually do a really short visualization of my life, not just about work, or the perfect day. When I set that down and turn that off that takes about 5 minutes. I go into my top 3 priorities, which are never email, and I’ve set them the day before so that I don’t have to spend time trying to re-calibrate and figure out what my top are. I’ve been working on the morning routine for a long time, I would suggest starting with something much simpler. Over time that’s what works for me, It actually takes me about an hour to an hour and a half to get through that, but when I do and when I don’t do it there’s a dramatic difference in how productive and how centered I feel during the day.

Joshua: That’s an interesting point. It’s like you’re actually burning time in a way to get time back. I think it’s a little counter-intuitive but I definitely have seen the power of it. You’ve encouraged me a lot to create your own. I think that’s the important thing, I would encourage people not to copy and paste yours. It’s probably going to be, it’s not going to work, they’re going to get discouraged. Mine looks totally different. Mine’s about an hour.

What I do is I wake up and I have a glass of water. I think that’s the simplest easier way to start your day. You’ll notice just in terms of the energy that you experience from that, your body has been dehydrated so that can really get the blood flowing and things.

Lets see, I do a breathing training program called the Wim Hof method. He’s from Holland. You guys have to check him out, it could be a whole episode, basically this guy has used meditation to do some pretty incredible things. I listen to a couple podcast interviews. I started doing his breathing training, it’s very very simple and it’s really changed the way I get into my day. I do that breathing routine. Again, you can check it out it’s wimhofmethod.com.

I do that and then right after that I do a meditation through Headspace, which is a meditation app. I do it in that order because the breathing gets my body oxygenated, gets a lot of the stale air out of my lungs. I feel noticeably better and different and calm. When I go into the meditation my physical body feels great so it allows my mental, spiritual side of myself to get into that easier. Headspace isn’t any sort of woo woo religious anything, it’s just more of like mind games that you get to play with, an instructor walks you through them.

After that I do some prayer and then I kind of jump into it. I like to read in the mornings too, but I switched that up. I would say that’s part of my morning routine, but that’s really dedicated to usually Mondays and Fridays. I consider it work because I’m reading things for work. I think that all of that needs to happen before email. All of it needs to be custom tailored to you.

This had been 18 months of figuring this out. Failing lots and lots and lots of times. I used to do a journal, there was the 5 minute journal and then I moved to, I forget the name of the second one. They weren’t my types of things. I found out I’d write the same things over and over. That’s okay, that works for you. I think the point here is figuring out what it is that works for you.

To bring this home and bring it full circle, the reason that I think it’s important for teachers to do this is, especially some of the things that are more around the body and the mind, is that it gives you a clean slate to create. A teacher, in some way shape or form, is always going to be creating. Creating a course online, creating a new lesson, creating a new idea, creating a new metaphor or visual depiction of something you’re teaching. You’re always in creation mode. I think that you have to be in your best state to do that. Figuring that out, getting yourself systematically in that state in the morning will help you be way more productive.

For me spending that hour in the morning, what I mean by getting hours back later later in the day, is that I get hours back by maximizing the time that I have and being very very efficient with the time that I’m given.

The thing that I would say is that if you’re in a 9-5 job or you’re in some sort of, you have some sort of constraints that you can’t control, you’re not an entrepreneur yet. I would say the morning routine can really give you the space to have some extra time at the end of your day after work. I know that seems crazy but getting through that day, being in the right mindset, not being slowed down by those impulses or being able to handle them better, manage the stress better, will help you be more productive with the time that you would be spending at the end of the day.

It is all connected, it’s all inter-related. We could talk about, maybe we should talk about dieting. For a teaching entrepreneurship and course creation, I’m currently testing and figuring out intermittent fasting. Chris has done some fasting. There’s reasons why we do this stuff, it’s not just that we’re crazy Montana and Californian hippies or whatever. There’s actual scientific research on how this can really help you. I think in this day and age, with all of these impulses, we have to be more mindful and we actually have to fight to be in our high performance optimum mode.

That’s my thought. Chris, do you have any closing thoughts for everyone?

Chris: Just say start small. Find something like a 5 or 10 minute routine that’s as simple as nourishing the body with some water and some kind of nutritious food. Doing something for the mind, whether that’s a podcast episode or a book. Then doing something for more your emotional state or your spiritual state whether that’s meditation, a walk in nature, a visualization, gratitude journaling, something like that. It just grows. I’ve been working on my morning routine since 2008. It’s been a process and right now I’m at the very beginning of an evening routine, which is where you wind down and turn off at the end of the day. If you’re anything like us your mind can go indefinitely until you pass out because you can’t turn your brain off. I think it’s also healthy, your morning routine gets even better when you allow yourself enough recovery time at night. That’s the flip-side of this equation.

Joshua: Yes. All right everyone, thank you for listening/watching, you can always find us on twitter @JMillage and @ChrisBadgett. We would love to chat with you there. Also if you haven’t yet, check out our plugin, it is completely open sourced and free. It’s called LifterLMS. You can find it at lifterlms.com. We would love for you to chose to use our system to power your online course.

Thank you so much for joining us, and we’ll talk to you soon.

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