Last week I tried out a new service called Blinkist. They provide 15 minute summaries of non-fiction books. My initial experience has been amazing and I have now subscribed to them.
I have also been writing notes on paper of all the summaries I've been reading. The first book I read was The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.
I was interested in this book because I have recently been experimenting with my morning routine. I've already made some massive changes and I am always curious to know what else I can do.
I'm not going to attempt to give a full summary in these blog posts. Rather, I want to focus on the key points that I found most significant to my life. Thus I will probably be skipping over a lot of stuff which may be useful to other people but which I have already internalised.
Key steps to a successful morning routine
1. Silence (aka meditation or mindfulness)
Silence seems very important to me. One thing that used to be a problem with my morning routine was that I kept using my phone too much immediately after waking up.
I now keep my phone outside of my bedroom and never use it until I have already finished every other step in my morning routine. I feel like this helps me to be more mindful.
However, I have never yet been able to stick to a real meditation habit, despite multiple attempts in the past. I recently tried Headspace in another attempt but just kept forgetting to use the app.
I do drink tea nearly every morning and remember several other people talking about meditating while drinking tea/letting it brew. That is something I'd like to explore.
This is something I've never actually tried even once. I've read Scott Adams and a few other people write about how good it can be. It is my lowest priority although I may try it at some point.
Again, this is something I've really never tried before. I also disagree with the summary somewhat. It says:
"For example, if you want to write a book, visualize yourself feeling inspired and joyfully writing page after page at your desk."
This feels like completely the wrong approach in my opinion. I don't remember where I first heard this but I remember several sources saying that purely positive visualisations are not an effective method for accomplishing goals.
What can be effective is to visualise realistic situations and imagine how you might deal with them and overcome any problems that may arise.
Then there is also the concept of negative visualisations from stoicism (which I read another Blinkist summary on recently and will write about later).
I see the value in visualisations but am not sure how to work them into my morning routine yet.
Exercise is something that I have been managing very successfully recently.
I took up running one mile every morning this March. I've been incredibly pleased with the habit. I chose to focus on consistency rather than any other metrics like time or distance. Over the last 74 days, I have run one mile on 53 of those days. That's 72%! Additionally, a lot of those missed days were either due to minor injury or heavy rain so the number I missed out of laziness has been very small.
I also started doing push ups every morning four weeks ago. Again, I'm choosing to focus on consistency. Over the last 28 days, I have only skipped 6 days due to laziness or extreme soreness.
I've also been tracking the number I can do each time. I started off at about 10-12 and am now able to do about 15-17. I admit that I often get a little impatient that I haven't been improving faster but then I catch myself with that line of thinking and realise it's not helpful. I also realise that since I am doing them every day, I am always a little bit sore from the previous day so my absolute maximum could be higher.
Although I am very pleased with my running and push ups habits, they are still new enough that I'm wary of pushing myself too hard and burning out. I plan to continue my exercise habits for 1-3 months longer before reviewing them.
Reading is very important to me. However, I am a very slow reader. I like to take my time and think about everything in detail before moving on.
There is one particular book that I started over a month ago but still haven't finished because every time I pick it up I read just one chapter and then spend the next half hour thinking about what I just read. (The book I'm talking about is Turn The Ship Around! by David Marquet but I'll write about that some other time.)
If anything, subscribing to Blinkist has made me realise the flaws in that approach. I definitely see the benefit in reading more quickly. I remember reading somewhere the idea that "once you read a book on some topic and think to yourself that you've read it all before then you are starting to master that topic". I feel that reading books more quickly (or reading Blinkist summaries) will help me to reach that point more quickly.
Initially after reading this summary, I had the awesome idea to read one Blinkist summary every single morning and write notes on them. The next morning, I did that and it was amazing. The morning after that, I did it again and it was pretty good. The morning after that I just did not have the energy and have not done it again since. I've been reading in the evenings instead.
I think the problem was that I chose book summaries that were just too long and detailed. The first summary I read in the morning took me 1 hour 15 minutes to read and write three pages of notes on. The second one was nearly as long. That's just a bit much to ask every single morning.
I think in the future, I should simply aim to do some amount of reading/note taking rather than aiming to complete an entire book. Making notes on an entire summary is just too hard to reliably complete every single morning. The harder a task is, the more motivation is required to start it and the less likely it is to become a habit.
I kind of already covered this one in the "note taking" while reading summaries above. Additionally, writing blog posts is another good form of writing. I also frequently write in my diary (although not usually in the mornings).
This post has turned into more of a discussion of my own habits rather than a review of the book summary. That's fine although I expect future summaries to follow the books more closely.
I'm glad I read this one first. It was an easy first read and got me in the mood for wanting to change my habits. I also don't think it's an accident that this book is promoted so heavily on Blinkist. I'm pretty sure they are doing it deliberately to get people excited about changing their habits and be more likely to commit to subscribing for a year. It certainly worked on me.