Why A Morning Ritual Is Essential For The Chronically Productive

by Bhavani Esapathi

There’s a lot being said on morning rituals of the rich and successful, but I'm here to talk about a different morning ritual.

This is for those who feel like getting out of bed is an achievement in itself. Nope, not the lazy ones, but those who are chronically productive.

That’s me. I have multiple chronic conditions that prevent me from being productive every single day, while my brain keeps buzzing with ideas, leaving me frustrated and unable to execute them.

I have severe asthma (with one functioning lung) that leaves me breathless, even while walking.

I have inflammatory arthritis where I am in constant pain, regardless of the amount of activity, and I have Crohn’s Disease, which prevents me from eating “healthy” with a restricted diet void of fruits, vegetables and all that is supposed to be good for you.

Now is probably a good time to disclose that I am addicted to being productive, and I'm constantly juggling two or more projects at any given time.

As any productivity junkie, I love reading habits, routines and other life hacks by others who have “made it” so to speak, but none of them apply to me, unfortunately.

My hustle is an everyday battle, which starts from being grateful if I can move my joints when I wake up in the morning, to hopefully being able to eat and keep the food in my system throughout the day.

Not to mention, the chronic fatigue and pain that often goes unacknowledged by medical staff, as its considered a normal part of chronic diagnosis.

Given these constrained notions of normalcy, I have had to devised my own ways to optimize my productivity without breaking my body down.

Every 30 minutes, one person is diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in the UK, over 500,000 in the US, and that’s not even counting a whole host of other autoimmune conditions like MS, Lyme Disease and Lupus, which come with similar chronic symptoms of fatigue and pain.

I should probably say I am a big fan of "The Miracle Morning," by Hal Elrod, although much like most of the famous morning rituals, not everything is executable for a Chronie like myself.

I do something slightly different: First, figure out how much sleep you need. It varies from individual to individual, and it actually varies between seasons for me. You can set your bedtime routine from there.

Three-Step Nighttime Routine

Declutter: I like to go to bed without any stress. As stress is seen as the number-one trigger for most inflammation, this is something you probably want to give a try.

I write down everything I have accomplished today and what needs to be done for tomorrow (keep this short), so I don’t need to worry about forgetting something important in the morning.

Read: I have long tried to beat the habit of letting screens go before bedtime, but I realized the best way to kick a bad habit is to replace it with a good one. Instead of reading on my iPad, I read from a paperback book. Just 10 minutes of reading will take you into another world.

Post-it: I like writing down three small things to do in the morning as soon as I wake up. We’re all groggy in the mornings, and keeping that Post-it note right next to my drawer tells me exactly what to do in the morning without having to think.

It usually has something like, "make coffee," "stretch" and so on. It gives me just the right direction to start my day off right.

Three-Step Morning Routine

Exercise: Exercising is hard, especially if you’re struggling with chronic pain, but movement is good. I like to stretch while I am still in bed; it wakes me up, easing the pains.

Post-it: You have to execute the three things and be sure to tick things off as you go about them. This gives yourself a sense of achievement, even before your day begins.

Chalk the day: Attack the day with the same three-step rule. It’s not overwhelming, and I prefer to have less than three items to do for each of the stages.

Of course, this isn’t the holy grail of all morning routines, but this is what works for me. I hope it helps at least some of you.

A few other pointers would be:

Work everywhere: I cannot tell you the number of days I have spent in bed either researching or writing because I simply could not get up. Don’t be disheartened, even if you’re bedridden; there’s always a way to do something. You just need to figure out what works for you.

Forgive yourself: If you’re chronically productive like me, one of the hardest things is to forgive yourself. I cannot tell you how many days I ruined for myself, simply because I wasn’t willing to let go of having wasted a day.

Say no: This might seem harsh, but when you’re low on energy, you need to focus everything you have on what will yield the most results. Every time you say yes to something, ask yourself, "Is it really worth it?"

Chronic Productivity is a product of The Chronically Driven Project, which began in early 2014. If you have your own chronic productivity tips to share, please get in touch with the author on Twitter, as @bhaesa.