Serious question now – Is your morning routine letting you down?
Let me tell you now, having a morning routine is very good for you. Your brain loves you for it because when you do something in the same way in the same order every day, your brain gets to save energy for the important stuff like keeping you safe when crossing the road. In fact, one of the reasons why successful people wear the same thing or eat the same food every day is so that they don’t have to waste valuable decision making energy on the mundane.
Do you have a morning routine? I bet you do, even if you don’t think of it as such. It could be something as simple as brush teeth, wash face, eat breakfast, comb hair, get dressed and go. Like I say, just what you do every day without thinking.
But do you ever wish that you had started your day differently? Perhaps you arrived at work to find you’d forgotten your wallet, or half your lunch was still in the fridge at home or you didn’t quite manage to get your hair straight (or even brushed).
It’s all too familiar to me.
Sometimes, the mundane lets you down because not only does your brain need the routine, but it also needs switching on.
So what to do? Create a morning routine that gets all the basics done, but also generates a bit of creativity and alertness that will leave you feeling raring to go and take your productivity (and memory recall) up a notch.
A quick search on Google will tell you that this morning routine thing is the new black. Bloggers are blogging about it, Vloggers are vlogging about it and Hal Elrod even wrote a book about his Miracle Morning. So how should we be starting our mornings?
As with everything, what works for you will be different from what works for someone else but here are my favourite things to include in my morning routine that encourage peace as well as productivity.
The Early Start
You won’t see any morning routine that doesn’t involve an early start, between 5am and 6am. Usually this is supported by examples of successful people who get up early, such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and JK Rowling to name a few.
Why? Basically because no-one else is up so there is less distraction and you can really focus on what you need to get done. Plus, if you’re whirling around the house and out the door in half an hour, you really should give yourself chance to breathe a little.
How? Not a morning person? If you want to start getting up earlier, start small. Set your alarm time 5 minutes before your usual time and add in a new task that will help you get your day off to a good start.
Avoid: Getting up an hour earlier without also modifying your bed time. It’s a sure fire way to make you want to stay in bed.
From a 5 mile run to a free flow yoga routine, exercise in the morning is regarded as a key element to a successful day.
Why? Regular exercise has been shown to increase levels of endorphins in the body. Effects are said to be similar to that of morphine, making you feel more positive.
How? I’m a gym goer so you won’t catch me arguing against the benefits of being active on a regular basis but first thing in the morning? Not everyone’s jam. At one point I was getting out of bed and immediately spending 10 minutes on a stepper, 10 minutes of abs and 5 rounds of sun salutations. Right now though, I’m a bit more sedate at the start of my mornings and do exercise at the end of my routine by visiting the gym. If you’re determined to start making changes, take a short walk outside, do some yoga or just some simple stretching.
Avoid: going all out on day 1 if you’re not currently exercising.
Take time to learn something new or just some escapism.
Why? Reading is good for personal reflection and self development whilst also beneficial in less obvious ways such as improving focus, concentration and memory.
How? It’s great to learn new things so I love that this is one of the key elements but I don’t think Facebook, Twitter and Instagram really count, do they? Take just 5 minutes, or 5 pages of your current book or catch up with your blog list.
Avoid: social media and the news. You can easily get drawn in by what’s happening in other people’s lives but they can also promote less than positive feelings, and no-one wants to start the day angry or sad.
Repeating a mantra that will set you up for the day.
Why? Well, there is a lot to be said about the power of positive thinking. Telling yourself that you can do something and will do something does work. I have a common affirmation every morning: I will put my phone down and get ready for work…
How? Okay, so this may sound a bit woo woo but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes just a positive thought may help, such as “it’s going to be a good day today” or “what a beautiful morning”.
Avoid: voicing negative feelings such as how tired you are or how much pain you feel. Life’s a swine and those things aren’t going away, but focusing on them by saying them out loud first thing in the morning sets
Taking a few minutes out to calm yourself.
Why? Depending on how you meditate, this can be a good thing to incorporate. Having some silence in the morning, no TV, no radio and so on can be vary calming.
How? If you’ve done your exercise and reading then this might be a good way to incorporate two tasks into one, repeating your affirmations to yourself as an incantation can be one approach to meditation.
Avoid: If, like me, you use closing your eyes and clearing your mind as a way to get to sleep then this method will definitely not be productive. My go to meditation is doing a dot-to-dot! You’re concentrating on just that next number, and not nodding off in the process.
Perhaps during meditation time you have lots of thoughts. Getting this down on paper can be really cathartic. Then again, maybe you have a blog and need to write your next post, reply to a post on Facebook or reach out on Twitter with a burning question. This is usually the reason that I have my phone in my hand.
Why? Like reading and exercise, writing is also said to release stress as well as improving communication and allowing you to be more expressive.
How? Writing in a journal is one way of getting your thoughts on to paper. Write about your hopes for the day, plan out your vision of your next holiday or write a to do list. Many people also talk about the benefit of morning pages.
Avoid: writing emails. For one, you’re giving people the impression that you are open to interaction. Secondly, leave the work bit for later.
The Evening Routine
A good morning starts with a good evening.
Why? Preparing the night before means that you have even less work and more enjoyment in the morning.
How? Prepping your lunch, laying out clothes, packing your bag; all things that don’t need to be done in the morning but don’t take much time to do the night before. You can even prepare breakfast, such as a power smoothie or overnight oats if that’s your thing.
Avoid: Allowing your evening routine to get in the way of your early night.
It may seem counter-intuitive to be going to bed early so you can do these things in the morning, but this is about injecting calm and productivity into the rest of the day. If you can’t get going in the morning without a cup of coffee first, have one. Sit in silence with your coffee in quiet meditation. Just taking the time to stop really does have an impact on your outlook.
On and off I’ve had some success with mastering my mornings but it really does depend on where you are both emotionally and physically. When I was in my late teens, still at school and in early working life, I thought nothing of getting up and out within about 15 minutes. These days, I make sure I’ve enjoyed my morning, had breakfast and explored the world.
So life isn’t perfect but your mornings can be pretty damn close!
What do you do every morning just to take time out? Do you regularly have a “Miracle Morning” or are they more murky? Will you be changing your morning routine?
If you liked this post, let me know by hitting the like button, sharing on your favourite social site or signing up to receive an alert about the next post by clicking here.
Until next time, remember, if the excess baggage is weighing you down, you can always leave it in lost luggage.
Earworm: Wake Up Boo!, The Boo Radleys