I used to hate routines and thought I was being some kind of independent spirit because I lived without such “restrictions.” I thought that to be a non-conformist, was some kind of victory (over who I couldn’t tell you) and prided myself on living without rules.
Then it dawned on me that this attitude and my refusal to create order–to set schedules and to have some structure around my days–were at the root of many of the problems I was having: procrastination, always running late and falling behind on routine paperwork and tasks like returning books to the library on time. Whatever it was that nudged me and made me finally add up these costs to see that I was short-changing myself, couldn’t have happened sooner. It’s one thing being a teenage rebel and quite another being a grown-up who no one could depend on.
Everything I was avoiding by refusing to create structure was exactly what I needed in my life and now I’m happy to say, I absofreakinlutely LOVE and live for routines! Within a half hour of talking to you, I might be asking you what yours are, what do you do specifically and if you meditate, you’re automatically cooler in my eyes. Routines, I’ve happily learned, are the opposite of restrictive. They help us save time, build self-discipline and lower stress. They’re great anytime and especially beneficial in the mornings.
A morning routine help to set up our days in the healthiest ways possible, and with the momentum we get from great starts to our mornings, we’re more focused and productive for the day. What I’ve learned from the works of behavioral scientists and psychologists and from the influencers and entrepreneurs Tim Ferris interviews is that routines are actually a success habit.
Morning routines and willpower
This thing we call willpower, we’re learning, is most reliable in the mornings. Because we don’t have a finite amount of it–the little bugger wanes as the day goes on and clocks out around 3 pm–we have to be strategic in how we plan our days. We should be trying to get our healthy habits done in the morning, but not just that, we should set our minds and spirit right so we have the energy and clarity to focus and get the important stuff done asap.
This guide is to help you do that–to make the most of your mornings and set up a routine that lets you get the important things done by 3 pm, so if willpower is gone by then, you’ll still feel accomplished for the day.
In the mornings then, is when we should be doing those things that require the most willpower.
Plan your routine in two parts. Part One is the first 30 minutes of your morning and should be dedicated to what’s sacred to you. Part Two is the rest of your morning routine, I’m using an hour, and it should be dedicated to getting ready and doing everything else that’s important to you having a successful day.
THE FIRST 30 MINUTES ♥
What’s the best way for YOU to spend the first 30 minutes of your bright spanking new day? This is a question to consider to make the start to your day personal and beneficial. The tasks you do here should have at least one uplifting aspect to it and include those no-brainers you don’t want to forget. Here are some of the things you can consider when planning yours:
- The no-brainers… Just go ahead and get simple beneficial wins out of the way, especially if it’s something that takes a moment to do.
- If part of your routine takes place in bed, obviously do that before you get up.
- Any new habit you’re still working into your lifestyle; that “first-things-first” approach strengthens your commitment and increases the likelihood of you sticking to the habit for good.
- Something sacred–an affirmation, meditation or prayer, a 5-minute stretch, a walk outside or time spent with your furry friend.
- A no-brainer I do and highly recommend is to have a glass of water with lemon or ACV. This jump starts our body systems and gives us a little pep of energy.
- Getting outside for 15-20 minutes is helpful if you suffer from any mood disorder like anxiety or depression, or if making exercise a habit is crucial to your health in any way. I have an underactive thyroid and don’t take prescription meds so exercise is a crucial part of my thyroid health regimen.
- Meditate or do something else that’s spiritual or affirming for you. If you’re not a fan of meditation (or maybe you prefer to do yours at night), a walk in the morning is a great time to contemplate the day.
- Journal for 5 minutes.
- Start to get the next phase of your morning going… start your breakfast, the coffee pot, apply facial, etc.
What you shouldn’t do within the first 30 minutes of waking up. Almost no one ever needs to check their phone or social media feed within the first 30 minutes of their day, and I strongly advise against it during the rest of your morning routine as well. Trying to keep that first 30 minutes sacred is one of the ways we can set our minds and spirit right and have more energy and focus for the rest of the day. Oprah and others like to talk about setting your intention for the day; during this sacred time is when you do it. It’s when you’re most connected to your genius and intuition and most open for clear thinking. Be inspired by a true self-made billionaire and set aside sacred time.
THE NEXT 60 MINUTES ♥
Even if you work from home, getting dressed should be part of the next phase of your morning routine. I’m using 60 minutes but of course, yours can be shorter or longer as your schedule allows. End your morning routine by making your bed (if you didn’t already) and do a little tidying up… try not to leave a mess behind.
Here are ten things organized by benefits that you can add to your morning routine to make your day the best it can be.
For physical energy
- Have something to eat, ideally a piece of protein or a wake-me-up smoothie.
- Have your cup of coffee. Limit your day to 2 cups and try to cut down to one for life.
- Exercise. People who work out in the mornings are less likely to skip it during the day when willpower wanes and your schedule may be dictated by responsibilities. If you can’t get your workout in first thing, try to do it before 12noon — maybe right before lunch?
- Take your vitamins.
For your spirit and well-being
- Repeat an affirmation or your chosen mantra.
- Journal for 5 minutes.
- Read the funnies.
For mental edge
- Make your bed. It leaves you with an immediate sense of accomplishment and is one of those little-known habits of successful people.
- Set your intentions for the day. Mentally think about the most important things you want to accomplish today and envision yourself doing them. Think about how you want to feel as you’re brushing your teeth, in the shower, applying makeup or getting dressed.
- Check your handbag, pack lunch and/or healthy snacks (nuts, a banana or apple, seaweed crips, a yogurt).