I used to hate routines and thought I was being some kind of independent spirit because I lived without such “restrictions.” I thought that being a non-conformist was some kind of victory (over what or who I couldn’t tell you) but I prided myself on living without rules.
Then it dawned on me, as these things eventually do, that my refusal to create order–to set schedules and to have some structure around my days– was at the root of many of my problems, namely and especially my procrastination which led to me always running late and falling behind. I’m glad I finally saw the light, made the connection between my procrastination and my lack of structure, and had the good sense to change it. Over time I began to see the cost and came to this important awareness: It’s one thing to be a teenage rebel and quite another to be a grown-up who no one can depend on.
Another awareness I had was that everything I was avoiding by refusing to create structure was exactly what I needed in my life. Now, I’m happy to say, I absofreakinlutely LOVE and live for routines! I love them so much that routines are one of my favorite networking topics. If I meet someone who meditates or has a morning routine, they automatically become 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 are especially beneficial in the mornings
A morning routine help to set up our days in the healthiest ways possible. With the momentum we get from great starts to our mornings, we will be more focused and productive for the rest of the day. Behavioral scientists, psychologists, influencers and entrepreneurs like Tim Ferris have helped me realize that routines are actually a success habit.
Morning routines and willpower
I’ve learned that this thing we call willpower is most reliable in the mornings. Because we don’t have a finite amount of it (willpower 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. The most beneficial thing we can do is to, first thing in the morning, set our minds and spirit right so we have the energy and clarity to focus and get the important stuff done.
Here, we’re going to look at how you can make the most of your mornings and set up a routine that lets you get the important things done by 3 pm.
In the mornings then, is when we should be doing those things that require the most willpower.
Plan your morning 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 remaining time you have for your morning routine. On average, we have an hour for the full routine so that would leave 30 minutes. If you’re lucky and have the time, it can be longer of course. This remaining time should be dedicated to getting ready and doing everything else that’s important to you having a successful day.
THE FIRST 30 MINUTES ♥
Think about the best way for YOU to spend the first 30 minutes of your bright spanking new day. To make the start to your day personal and beneficial to you, what are some tasks do you want to do right after you get out of bed? I suggest adding at least one uplifting to-do to your morning.
Here are some other habits you may want to consider when planning what you want to do with the first 30 minutes of your day:
- Do the no-brainers… Just go ahead and get simple beneficial wins out of the way, especially if it’s something that takes just a moment to do.
- If part of your routine takes place in bed, obviously do that during the first part of your routine.
- Do any new habit you’re still working into your lifestyle. The “first-things-first” approach will help to strengthen your commitment and increase the likelihood of you sticking to that habit for good.
- Do something sacred or uplifting–an affirmation, meditation or prayer.
- Do something physical–a 5-minute stretch, a 15-minute 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 30 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).