Routines provide structure to your day, having them gives you more control over your life and makes you less stressed. Think about the last time you weren’t following a routine in the morning and were running late or forgot something; how did that feel? Most likely, that was a stressful morning, and the rest of the day probably didn’t feel great either.
Having a routine, and continuously performing the tasks within it, provides a sense of order and saves precious time.
Why create a new morning routine?
Whether you’re trying to get up early, or simply want to make the most of your morning, being excited about why is key to accomplishing that goal.
Your “why” (your goal) is as individual as you are, it can be as simple or complicated as you see fit.
Try asking yourself: Why do you want to create a new morning routine? What good will it bring to your life? What do you hope to achieve? Why is that important to you?
When thinking about what tasks you want to add to your new morning routine, remember your goal to help you stay focused.
“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine” – John C. Maxwell
The benefits of a positive morning routine
If you incorporate some self-care into your routine – even if, for you, that just means getting up 10 minutes earlier to sip your morning brew in peace – you’ll feel better mentally throughout the day.
Having a regular sleep schedule is important for your mental and physical health. Once your body is used to regularly getting enough sleep, not only will you find it easier to drift off, but you’ll also sleep better too.
Incorporating exercise into one of your daily routines means you won’t need to “fit exercise in”, because it’s already planned. Sure, some days you may want to skip your workout because you’re late, or feeling run down, but most of the time, if you make it a habit, you’ll get it done and that will favour your physical health. You’ll also have more time to prepare healthy and nutritious meals if you choose to.
Merely knowing what you’re going to be doing, and when, is great for your mental health. Your brain doesn’t like the unknown, the unknown is scary. Knowing what you plan to happen, and making it routine, soothes this anxiety.
What should I do?
This will be different for each person. What your morning routine consists of should align with your goals, your “why”. For example, if your aim is to write more and publish a novel, then your morning routine will probably have tasks like; avoid distractions from technology, write in your journal, then work on your novel for an hour. Or, if your goal is something more physical like you want to get in shape, then your tasks might look more like this; drink 2 glasses of water, hit the gym, have a shower, then eat a good breakfast before heading off to work.
Only add a few tasks to your new morning routine to start with. If you make it too full, you’re less likely to stick to it.
Here are some examples of what you could do, or avoid, in your morning routine.
- Avoid hitting the snooze button. You are doing yourself a disservice when you do. You aren’t able to fall back to sleep properly, so you’re just delaying the inevitable and making yourself feel worse in the process.
- When you wake up, get up. If you spent 30minutes laying in bed every morning, you’d waste over 180 hours a year. Just laying there, not getting up, and not doing anything important or productive with your life. That’s an awful lot of time doing nothing. So when you open your eyes, get your feet on the floor and start your day.
- Watch the sunrise in silence
- Write down your first thoughts
- Jot down your dreams and track your sleep quality
- Avoid technology for the first hour
- Exercise, stretch or do some yoga
- Eat a healthy, nutritious breakfast
- Drink 2 glasses of water before consuming anything else
- Set your intention for the day
- Look at your goals or vision board
- Get ready (clothes on, hair fixed, makeup on if you wear it) even if you aren’t leaving the house today.
- Make your bed
- Do your most important task early (the thing that absolutely must get done today)
- Do your most productive task early (the thing that gets you closer to your goals)
- Go for a walk or jog
- Hit the gym
- Practice deep breathing exercises
- Look at your schedule for today. Try scheduling the night before so you don’t need to make any decisions about how you’ll spend your day when you’ve only just woken up.
- Spend quality time with family
- Pack a healthy lunch
- Brainstorm current/future project ideas
- Read a blog post (ideally more than 1 hour after waking)
- Listen to a podcast or the radio
- Focus on a crossword puzzle with your morning brew
- Listen to uplifting music
- Work on a project that excites you, but you “never have time” to work on
- Educate yourself. Read a self-help book, learn a new language, enroll in a course (Udemy and Skillshare have tons of free courses you can choose from).
- Care for your pets
Do not let this list be daunting to you, only choose tasks that align with your personal goals.
When should I wake up?
Don’t wake up at 5 am just because it’s trendy. If you aren’t a morning person, and you have no real reason to get up so early, you’re not going to commit to that long-term.
Your new morning routine should be 1 to 2 hours long, less than that is fine but I wouldn’t suggest more. Write down a list of tasks you want to add to your morning routine, next to each task write how long you think each task will take. If it’s more than 2 hours in total then take another look, remember, your routine should focus towards your goals. Whether your main goal is to be healthier, more organized, more productive, or, spend more time with your family, then your morning should reflect that. Doing the tasks that serve you best in the morning means that no matter what else happens, you did something for you today and took another step forward.
Once you have your new routine down to 2 hours or less, you can count backward from when you need to leave the house or start work to find your perfect wake up time. From you wake up time, count back the number of hours sleep you feel you need, now you have your bedtime too (be sure to include some time to get to sleep in the first place! This is around 10-20 minutes, but you may need to adjust for your individual needs).
If you’re struggling with your sleep patterns check out this post.
“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” – Mike Murdock
Start the night before
- Avoid caffeine and bright lights before bed. In order to sleep more soundly you should try to cut out caffeine 4-6 hours before bed, and screen usage 1-2 hours before. Having a good night’s sleep will benefit you when you rise.
- Decide as much as possible the night before. You’ll find your mornings easier if you’re prepared for them. Lay out your clothes for the next day, pack your bag and lunch, decide how you’ll fix your hair and what you’ll eat for breakfast. They’re only small things but they’ll help.
- Make it harder to go back to old, unwanted habits. Keep your phone in another room to avoid mindless bleary-eyed scrolling. Put your alarm on the other side of the room so you’re less tempted to hit snooze.
Your brain wants to take the easy route, that’s why habits are hard to break because your brain is used to performing these tasks and knows how to perform them perfectly. The brain doesn’t like change, but, if you persevere, it will become accustomed to the new tasks and find them easier as the new habits form.
Allow room for change. If your new routine doesn’t seem to be working right for you, make some tweaks until you find the perfect balance.
Having an “off day” doesn’t mean you failed. Just try again tomorrow, change takes time.
Wake up and fall asleep at the same time, even on the weekends. As much as you like your lie-ins on the weekend, sticking to the same sleep schedule means you don’t have to try to get back into it every week. This will promote adequate sleep every night. So try to go to bed and get up at similar times (within an hour of your weekday times).
Let me know how your new routine works out in the comments below.