9 out of 10 articles I have clicked on in the last 5 years have involved something along the lines of “the ten things the most successful people do before 5 am”. I was always looking for the magic answer to feeling more motivation and more energy
There has been something about my morning routine FOR YEARS that has left me feeling unsatisfied, not as organized and not as effective. My gut has continuously nagged on me to do SOMETHING about it but I never really knew what to do. I’d try to get up early and hit the gym - FAIL. I’d try to get up early just to get to work earlier and have more time in the evening - FAIL. Nothing seemed to work and really, I never tried anything long enough to see if it would work.
January has been epic. I redesigned my mornings completely. I visualized how I would want my mornings to go last December. I called the outcome “my ideal morning” and made it my own continuous process improvement project throughout the month to identify what type of morning would be best for me.
Here is my new routine:
5:55 a.m.: Alarm goes off. Time to get up.
6:00 a.m.: I get out of bed (mostly because I can smell that the coffee is ready).
6:00 - 6:10 a.m.: Pour my coffee, wash my face, let the dog out
6:10 - 6:20 a.m.: Initial reflection in my journal and a check in on my weekly planning.
6:20 - 6:35 a.m.: Daily devotional (I recommend the one within Eagle Brook Church’s app)
6:35 - 6:50 a.m.: 15 minute guided meditation (Podcast: Meditation Oasis - Morning Energy Guided Meditation)
6:50 - 7:20 a.m.: 30 minute workout
7:20 - 8:15 a.m.: Get ready for the day
8:15 a.m. - Bedtime: Spend my day NOT worrying about if I’ll get a workout in, if I’ll get time to myself or if I’ll be able to stay organized.
Now I’ll break down the six lessons I learned along the way this month.
Lesson 1: Boundaries will save you.
The biggest lesson learned is that in order to have this “ideal morning” I needed to set some new boundaries. A few that I have set so far to protect my time are: 1) no hitting snooze, 2) no work meetings before 9 a.m. and 3) set the coffee pot up the night before (the old “I’ll just make it in the morning” doesn’t work for me - if I don’t smell it right away, I won’t get out of bed) and 4) resting doesn’t mean quitting (I was sick for an entire week this month and that was super challenging. I had to focus on getting better while also focusing on what would set my day up in the best way possible).
Lesson 2: Control your mind before it controls you.
If nothing else changes about your morning schedule, I urge you to jot down answers to these three questions before you start your day (AND DEFINITELY BEFORE YOU CHECK YOUR CELLPHONE!!). It will help center your thoughts, your intention and your to-do list before life takes over.
How am I feeling this morning?
What will my intention for the day be?
What is the ONE THING to get done today that will make the rest of the day easier?
Lesson 3: A meditation practice doesn’t happen overnight.
If 9/10 articles I click on are about mornings, the 10th is usually about meditation. So, I finally decided to try it out for the month. Week 1 was focused and visceral, week 2 was distracted/sleepy, week 3 was more focused and week 4 felt necessary to keep my day on track. The most challenging thing for me about meditation is getting my mind to relax. I’ll be three miles deep down a thought path and totally zoned out of the meditation before I realize it. What I love about meditation so far is that it is a little gift to give to my mind. It’s a total means of self-care and I’ve found a way to integrate it into my life daily.
Lesson 4: You do have time to work out in the morning.
Myth #19082349023 about exercise: Your workouts need to be LONG. Well, surprise, no, they don’t. For me, it’s a 10 minute cardio warm up and then 20 minutes of lifting / body weight exercises. FYI - I don’t work out every morning, but I also don’t plan an off day. I tried to plan an off day but my body felt like moving. Use off days for when you physically can’t get going (like when I was sick).
Lesson 5: Look good, feel good, get shit done.
Part of what I wanted to incorporate each morning was actually getting ready and looking presentable every day. When I feel like I look good, I just show up better in my work. I am more efficient, I can produce more and I feel more inclined to socialize with those around me (rather than hiding in my cube ‘cause I’m on day 2 of not washing my hair…).
Lesson 6: A productive morning declutters your mind.
This makes the entire morning worth it. Looking back on life B.I.M (before ideal mornings), I can’t believe how much CLUTTER was in my head throughout the day.
“Shoot, I should’ve woke up earlier”
“AH no time to shower guess I’ll look like crap all day”
“Dang it I should’ve made coffee last night”
“Oh no, will I have time to workout tonight?”
“Work was so long and annoying - I just need to relax tonight”
“If I'll be home by 5, and we have to get groceries, and we have to make dinner I could work out at 5:47 p.m. and then quick shower and then...” (I actually got exhausted writing this scenario again... so much designing and redesigning my day - INEFFICIENT!)
There was so much rushing and rearranging and worry about what was and was not going to get done. Now it’s all done before my day even really begins. I feel lighter. I feel more productive.
If you’re thinking that your mornings could use a makeover too, I’ve created a worksheet to help you think through your mornings and how you’d ideally like to start your day. The worksheet includes assessing how your mornings are currently going and a four step process to design your new morning routine!
Fill out the form below to get your free worksheet!