The morning can often be the most overlooked part of our day. Many of us are waking up late, rolling out of bed and rushing to get out the door or to log into work. Although this may seem like a great way to optimize your sleep, it’s actually detrimental to your productivity, and is hindering your ability to time manage.
A morning routine is a great way to structure disciplined self-care that will foster creativity and help centre your thoughts and aid in organization. Beginning each morning by enriching your mind, getting your body moving, or even just habitually drinking your coffee; you design beneficial habits that will set the tone for your day. Even better, by waking up early you are carving out time for yourself each day that may otherwise get pushed to the wayside by work, social commitments or exhaustion.
Wake up early
When regular life has resumed (with commutes and normal work hours) it will become increasingly harder to fit in time for yourself in the mornings. Your morning routine will, and can be time that you carve out for yourself each morning. Although, in order for a morning routine to be a successful way to begin your day it’s important that it becomes a habit. For many of us, the largest constraint of a morning routine is time.
Waking up early will create consistency and a productive routine. Early morning is often free of distractions; meaning it allows for you to be successful in fostering productive habits. The benefits of waking up early are endless (enhanced organizational skills, more energy, higher levels of happiness… just to name a few). It becomes quite easy to reap the benefits of early rising once it is paired with a routine. Early rising allows you to set the tone for the day, meaning if you pair that with a morning routine that reflects a mentally stimulated mind you will feel in control, and will better be able to prioritize your time. Waking up even an hour earlier than normal, you will give yourself an extra 60 minutes to spend time doing something that sets you up for a successful day.
Create a (realistic!) routine
One mistake that people often make when beginning a morning routine is creating a list of things that are too ambitious. When first starting your morning routine, pick 2-3 things that you know you will be able to accomplish each day, rather than a list so long that you may feel compelled to skip most days if it’s overwhelming, and too time consuming.
Your morning routine should also reflect activities that you enjoy doing, and that will get you out of bed. If you don’t like to run six miles, you really won’t want to get out of bed early in the morning to do that! If you like to read or write, substitute an early morning sweat sesh for something that allows you to wake up slowly and stimulates your mind. Your morning routine should be productive, but it should also be something that you look forward to so that you want to get out of bed!
There are very few rules for morning routines, although some habits will make a morning routine more successful, and sustainable than others. Before committing to a morning routine, it’s important to decide how much time you have (whether it’s thirty minutes, an hour, or two hours!). Then it’s also important to decide how you want to spend your time. Ask yourself questions such as… “Do I want to spend my morning moving my body, or stimulating my mind?” and “how many different activities do I want to make a part of my morning routine?” Each morning routine will be unique to the person, but adding in too many factors that take up too much time will inevitably lead to burn out.
The habit is more important than the result… At first!
Create habits that are sustainable for you. A morning routine can begin as simple as waking up thirty minutes earlier than normal to make coffee and enjoy it by yourself without distractions. Morning routines shouldn’t be overly complicated, and if you enjoy things as simple as drinking coffee in the morning it will be easier to follow through with a routine and rising early!
As you begin to wake up earlier and settle into your morning routine, it’s important to follow through with it everyday to form a habit. Having a routine with digestible and enjoyable tasks means you are more likely to get up and continue to form the habit. As you become more experienced and potentially want to rise earlier, you can use your simpler habits created to make earlier rising a habit as well!
Ideas for a grounded and productive morning
My ‘rule of thumb’ for my morning routine is no technology. This time is for me only, which means I won’t cloud the first hour or two of my morning with social media, text messages, or work-related communication. By staying off screens, I am able to commit the first hours of my day to myself.
Below are three morning routines that I have tried, and feel were successful in creating a realistic, yet productive morning without taking up too much time. All of the morning routines are interchangeable, and are meant for you to pick and choose based on habits that will help you have an enjoyable, and productive day!
A morning routine for the athlete…
- 10 minutes: Get up & make bed
- 30 minutes: Mindfulness walk or jog
- 20 minutes: Foam rolling & stretching
A morning routine for the creative…
- 10 minutes: Get up & make coffee
- 30 minutes: Journaling (gratitude, goals for the day, or a pre-selected journal prompt)
- 15 minutes: Meditation
A morning routine for the student…
- 10 minutes: Get up & get ready (brush teeth & wash face)
- 30 minutes: Reading (pick a book on a topic you’re interested in that is new, exciting, or fun!)
- 15 minutes: Write a daily to-do list or routine
By creating sustainable, productive habits you will be able to master the ability to rise early and enjoy your mornings. Morning routines are incredible tools for time management and mindfulness; all it really takes is finding a few enjoyable activities, and having the self-discipline to turn them into habits!