As a musician, it is easy to slip in and out of routines. Whether you are a teacher or a touring soloist, life sometimes throws curveballs that get in the way of an optimal schedule.

We all know that having a regular morning ritual enhances our motivation in our work, as humans we are creatures of habit and cultivating a routine in our lives helps our brains to focus more on the work at hand.

It is easy enough to do the work we want to when we have the time, but what about when we don’t? How can we create the perfect ritual that we can stick to even when we are busy/traveling/just plain exhausted?

Stop Over Estimating Your Time

When we set out to change habits we often think of our lives as a blank canvas, but do we really have the time to go for a run, blend a smoothie, drink a coffee and meditate every single morning? For most of us the answer is a big fat no.

Try to focus on what your ideal morning ritual would be, and then downscale as much as possible. Does movement help you in the morning? Do you need a moment to clear your thoughts?

Try to figure out where the impulse to do these things comes from, and act accordingly. Which small change could you make to combat your current sluggishness without having to become a totally different person?

Downsizing The Optimal Schedule

Want to do a morning run but don’t have 30 minutes/time to shower?

Take your morning coffee for a 5/10 minute walk outside. This way you stretch your legs, get some fresh air, and you don’t lose a lot of time.

Alternatively, spend 5 minutes practising deep breathing and stretch in front of an open window. Baby steps!

Want to meditate every morning?

Understand that meditation isn’t always 30 minutes of sitting on a yoga mat in lotus position.

You can meditate from absolutely anywhere, in silence or not, take a moment in your bed to close your eyes and quieten your mind.

Alternatively, close your eyes and focus your breath whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. Every moment in our morning can be used for returning to ourselves in reflection.

Want to eat healthy?

We don’t always have the time/energy to make the nutritional choices we would like to in the morning, and this is perfectly understandable.

Try preparing your food the night before, this can be as simple as filling the kettle for a boiled egg, or blending a smoothie the night before. Making your nutrition as easy as possible in the morning will help you start your day feeling refreshed and ready to work!

Habits To Consider

1. Make Your Bed

Every morning. Set the scene. The nature of our work often means that we are practising out of the same room that we sleep in. Close your work routine off from bed energy as soon as you get out of it. Trust me!

2. Leave The Phone

No email needs to be replied to in the first thirty minutes of you waking up. Stop checking for messages as soon as you open your eyes. Save your morning energy for you, they can wait.

3. Drink A Glass Of Water

The life of a musician isn’t always the healthiest, especially when it comes to late nights, early mornings and everything in between.

I’m not saying you have to live without your coffee/cigarette, but I am saying that a glass of water will help!

4. Freshen Up

Get in the shower, wash your face, brush your teeth. Getting yourself ready for a day of work at home shouldn’t be any different from that of going to work in an office. Dress up and show up for yourself!

At the end of the day, whatever ritual you settle on shouldn’t just be something that you think appears a healthy lifestyle, it should be something that serves you.

Try to track which habits add to your work life and which ones do not, which things leave you feeling energised and which leave you more tired than when you started?

The ideal morning routine will take no more than 30 minutes, it should be something you can do anywhere in the world under whatever time constraints you have. So go forth and explore the possibilities, they are endless!

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Dave McLellan

Concert & Chamber Guitarist

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