Start Your Day Right with a Personalized Morning Routine
Why You Need a Morning Routine
You already have a morning ritual. But you’re reading this which means that you’re realizing you could be more intentional with the actions that you do to start your day.
Chances are that your morning activities currently include things that you need to do to get out the door; things you think you need to do; and other actions that you started doing, probably without much thought until they eventually became part of your routine.
If you feel scattered in the morning, jumping from task-to-task, developing a morning routine with intention will make you more productive and creative. Instead of feeling rushed and stressed, you’ll set a more positive tone for the day.
Make Time for What's Important to You
How Do You Want to Start Your Day?
In an ideal world, what would your mornings look like? Sure, it can be fun to imagine a maid bringing you breakfast in bed, but let’s start by imagining how you can improve your current life.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to bring your lunch to work so you can save money for vacation. You’ve succeeded in doing this for a day or two, but you can’t make it a habit.
Jot down three-to-ten things you’d like to accomplish in the morning. Next to each activity, list how much time you think it will take. Now, go back and pad the time, remembering that you aren’t just making a sandwich but also gathering the supplies from around the kitchen and then cleaning up afterward.
That task that you think will just take five minutes might really take ten. Ten minutes isn’t a lot of time, but it’s twice as much time as five. The difference could mean that you’re now leaving for work later than you planned.
Something that can be done at any time is often at no time.— Gretchen Rubin
Ideas for Morning Maintenance Tasks
walk the dog
write goals/priorities for the day
do prep work for dinner
Choose What You Want to Do
What Do You Want to Avoid Doing?
If you want to add tasks to your morning routine, you’ll need to find the time. Unless you plan on getting up earlier (which means going to bed earlier), you’ll want to spend less time on things that aren’t as important to you.
For three or four mornings (they don’t have to be consecutive), jot down a list of what you do to start your day. Don’t try to remember what you did; chances are that you’ll forget some things or miscalculate how much time you spent on different actions.
Do a task or a few and then write it down along with the time it took.
After a few days, look for patterns of where time gets wasted. Do you think you’re just going to check on your email for five or ten minutes, but you really spend twenty or twenty-five minutes on this task?
You want to meditate for 10-minutes in the morning and you think you’ll just grab the time from looking at email. But, how do you plan on spending less time on the computer?
Will you set a timer and when it goes off, close your email? Will you wait until breaktime at work to read your emails? Unless you decide how you’ll devote less time to this action, chances are that it will fill the time it normally does, meaning you’ll have a more difficult time fitting in the things you say you want to do.
Ideas for Morning Self-Care and Personal Development
take a walk
dance to one song
listen to music
get some sun
set intention for the day
talk with a loved one
In doing anything, the first step is most difficult.— Chinese proverb
Create and Practice Your New Morning Routine
Think about what you want to get from your mornings. Do you want to feel energized? Inspired? Productive? Organized? Creative? This will help you figure out which activities are most important to include as you start your day.
Grab some small Post-It notes and list one activity and it’s time frame on each slip of paper. Set them on a sheet of paper, the refrigerator, or the wall, in the order you want to do things.
Now, as you move around your morning, keep referring to your list. Keep an eye on the clock to judge if you are on time or running late.
Evaluate what worked and what didn’t (you could think this through on your commute to work). Rearrange the actions on your list, consider if some tasks could be done during your evening routine, decide if you will skip an activity or spend less time with it.
Repeat until you’re happy with your new morning routine. However, keep in mind that your schedule can change with the season, semester, demands at work, illness, and other factors. So, don’t feel that you must continue to tweak your routine until you have it down to the minute.
Good enough is better than haphazardly hoping you’ll get things done in the morning.
What's the next action?— David Allen