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A good morning routine can really set the tone for the rest of the day. Some days you’re dialed into every detail: cooking a healthy breakfast, experimenting with new hairstyles, trying to meditate.
Other days… well, your routine gets skipped and you slip into work through the backdoor with a wrinkled shirt and a coffee stain on your pants and your hair having seen better days. It happens.
Yet, like clockwork, the yearn for a smooth, stress-free morning quietly taunts you as dawn breaks. When the “other days” arrive, your perfect morning can feel like a sparkly pink unicorn with ribbons running through a field of pixie dust. It just doesn’t exist.
And even though your perfect morning can feel like you are riding on this magical creature, there is more to creating it than mystical forces at work. You really do have more control than you think!
Having a strong, consistent morning routine is essential for creating less stress, gaining more confidence, and being more productive throughout your day. It just does. The key factor that most people miss is that it really depends on what is right for you and taking that into consideration when establishing your morning routine.
Right now, you might be wondering how do you find out what works for you? How do you even know where to start? Let’s start by taking these two thoughts into consideration:
- Know yourself
- Model some of the most successful people and their morning routines that they swear by.
Doesn’t sound to bad, right? Let’s dive into the details of these great routine habits, and how successful people get a routine to stick day in, day out and learn how you can apply it to your own life.
1. Wake Up At YOUR Right Time
We have all heard phrases like “The early bird gets the worm” or “Be part of the 5am club.” If you wake up past 6 am are you destined to a day of laze and despair? And isn’t is said that morning people are just more happier and more productive overall?
There is a disconnect between conventional daytime expectations and nighttime preferences. This can make it harder for the person who is a night owl. When someone is more a night owl and forces themselves to wake up early and perform at their peak during the day, they can experience more sleep loss and emotional distress. This is called “social jet lag.” This could make them less happy.
According to this 2012 study, researchers found that morning people had higher positive affect across the board, compared to night people. But mood isn’t the same as general happiness and contentment. The standard American 9-5 pm work schedule may also lead you to believe that this is when the most productive times occurs and if you can’t fit into that, well, then there might be something wrong with you. Forcing yourself to live out of your authenticity may decrease your happiness.
Mike Vardy, founder of “ The Productivityist” is a writer, speaker, and productivity specialist. He is also a self-proclaimed night owl and he talks about how he found success when he lived with authenticity and intention. He also states in a blog “There Is Nothing Wrong With Being A Night Owl” that “I don’t work like others do when I start my day, either. I don’t adhere to the “first things first” mentality that Covey preaches because my brain isn’t ready to do the creative heavy lifting at that time. Instead, I like to get the low energy stuff out of the way. By doing that, I gradually build up my energy to where it needs to be for when I know I’m at my best — in the afternoon and evening hours.” But what he does do is that he has his morning routine when he wakes up and he does that consistently. It is still supporting his personal growth, but he knows his rhythm and what decreases his stress and makes him feel more productive and he sticks to it.
If you find that you have to wake early and this is not your best fit, then wake up at your best time that fits with your schedule demands and do light self-care that only take 15-20 minutes so that you can prioritize both. If you feel that you are a morning person but bad habits have caused you to stay up late and wake up late, then work to slowly adjust that by changing those times to fit your goals.
A healthy morning routine may be the most important — no matter what time you wake up. Your body actually knows what it should be doing and when. Don’t force yourself to be part of the 5 am club if you can’t fall asleep before midnight.
2. Create A Morning Routine To Focus Your Mind
How you start your day anchors you and grounds you. This is important because you feel at your least stressed when grounded and anchored, not to mention more mental clarity and focus. If you take all of these qualities and add them together, they tend to equal more productivity and commitment to your day’s tasks that you want to get done.
Kevin Kruse, CEO of LEADx and author of Great Leaders Have No Rules, includes 20-minutes of HIIT on the treadmill and yoga stretches while he completes a simple gratitude meditation, mission reflection, and intentions around his goals.
My morning routine looks something like this:
- 16 oz water with lemon
- Inspirational passages
- 15 minutes meditation
- Journaling (occasionally)
- 3 mile run followed by strength training and/or flexibility work while listening to self-growth podcasts
- Shower and healthy breakfast
Morning routines do not have to be lengthy, but they should be consistent and promoting inner growth!
3. Create Your Day’s Tasks In The Evening
The first 20-30 minutes after waking is prime time for your subconscious brain to soak in what you feed it. This is great news because real habit change and mindset work occur when your subconscious mind shifts. With that being said, it is also susceptible to deepening your negative stress response if you feed it too much stress.
Setting your schedule up for the day first thing in the morning can cause stress, especially if you have a large to-do list. This added stress first thing in the morning can cause dread and worry that can not only last for the entire day, but also encourage your subconscious mind to automatically respond with dread and worry.
We also have a limited amount of willpower and decision-making ability every day. If you have to make too many decisions first thing in the morning, you can cause yourself to drain your brain and not have the amount of vital decision-making capabilities for the rest of the day. Not only that, but you have suddenly opened your morning up to having more time for personal growth.
Want to work out in the morning? Lay out your clothes the night before and have them ready to go. Want to read a book? Pick it out and have it sitting where you will complete your morning routine.
4. Move Your Body And Hydrate
Moving your body makes you feel better. And that doesn’t have to be a full workout program. Just getting up and going for a walk, doing some light stretches, or even standing from your desk and stretching your arms overhead, all can increase your energy and brain activity. You probably already know how important it is to exercise for your health, but did you know how important it is for overall energy production and for mental clarity? Some of the most successful people prioritize body movement in the morning:
- Kevin Kruse does a daily 20-minute HIIT session on the treadmill.
- Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square, jogs every morning.
- Howard Schulz, CEO of Starbucks, bikes first thing.
- Congresswoman and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi power walks before she sits down to work.
- Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk works out with his personal trainer.
- Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary gets on his elliptical or exercise bike.
- Starwood Hotels CEO Frits van Paaschen runs 10 miles each morning!
Moving your body or not, hydration is still important first thing in the morning. Not only is your body dehydrated from sleeping all night, but water also replenishes in many other ways — Increases digestion, increases energy, flushes out toxins, decreases headaches, increases mental clarity and mood, just to name a few.
Start your morning out with 16-20 oz of filtered water.
5. Eat That Frog
Now it’s time to take action. Brian Tracy, author of “Eat the Frog,” bases his morning philosophy off of a quote from Mark Twain:
“If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”
Tackle your hardest task first to help bring you satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment. Feeling accomplished helps you feel more content and happy throughout your day. Especially if it is a daunting task. Dreading a task on your to-do list is a mighty energy drainer. Why sit in worry thinking about it when you can just get it done and over with. If you have many little tadpoles that you need to accomplish, then start there.
Just find your rhythm and get started!
Throughout this series on morning routines, I have talked about the importance of creating your own personal process that nurtures your mind, body, and spirit (click on the links to reread parts 1-3). As we finish this series, I want to emphasis — it is not how much you do or finding the perfect routine, it is what fits you in this season of your life. Take these tips and personalize them to fit your needs. It is what nourishes your soul and takes care of you and creates the grounding your need to have your most productive days. Just get started!
1. Biss, R. K., & Hasher, L. (2012). Happy as a lark: Morning-type younger and older adults are higher in positive affect. Emotion, 12(3), 437–441. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027071
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