As a recovering procrastinator, I need structure. I use mind tricks, playlists and all sorts of hacks to help me focus and be productive during the day. And to help me get out the door on time and start my days right, I developed a morning routine. The keyword here is “develop,” because it’s hard to set up a great routine on Day 1. The best routines evolve over time.
Getting to your best morning routine is all about your attitude and your approach.
The attitude that I recommend is to view your morning routine as a tool to help you be the best you. So do it for YOU and to help YOU. As for the approach, it can take any path that works for you. If you don’t have a path, at least have a plan. Use these stick-to-it hacks to help you develop your best most beneficial morning routine.
1. Start from the night before
The less you have to do in the mornings, the smoother your routine will be. Pick out outfits, prep your lunch and/or breakfast, pour out your pet’s food, tidy up and do whatever you can the night before. I leave a glass of water on my nightstand because it’s part of my morning routine. I’m more likely to remember and drink up if the water is right in my face.
2. Stack your habits
By drinking water before or after I meditate, I’m doing what’s called “habit stacking.” Habit stacking is adding a habit to an existing one, and it’s not only simple to do, but it also helps you remember to do all the things in your stack. We all take a shower and brush our teeth in the mornings, right? If you can’t make time to do visualization by itself, doing it while you’re showering or brushing your teeth will work just fine. Imagine, for 2 minutes while the water is beating down on your head and on your shoulders and with your eyes closed, that you’re visualizing either your day ahead or some specific scenario you want. And brushing your teeth can take on a whole new meaning if you do a visualization exercise while you’re at it.
3. Start slow
While you might want to transform your life tomorrow… asap…, it’s not the best approach. With any new habit or routine, the “Slow is smooth” approach is much easier for your brain to manage and it increases the likelihood that you’ll stick to it. Start with a simple manageable routine and let it become a well-honed practice before you add new activities to it.
4. Make it beneficial
You’ll be less tempted to give up something that benefits you so make sure the habits, practices, and activities in your routine benefit you and your life. That glass of water that I drink every morning — usually with ACV or lemon, kickstarts my sluggish metabolism. My early morning walk helps to “wake” me up because natural light tells my brain to shut off melatonin production. Both help my underactive thyroid work better but they help me in other ways too. The supplement you take for your hair will help to boost your confidence, and that’s huge. And the 5-minute yoga sequence you’re thinking of adding to your routine can tighten your butt, help your digestion, and help you focus better in school or at work. Everything you do in your morning routine should help you perform better during the day or to be a better you.
5. No phones for at least the first 30 minutes
You’re pretty much giving the best part of yourself to strangers when you check your phone first thing in the morning. Early mornings are “me-time” that you want to protect from outsiders. Magic happens in the wee hours of the morning. It’s when you’re most likely to have great ideas and it is when your willpower is at its peak. It’s also when the critic in your head is the quietest. Checking your phone as soon as you wake up shuts off those benefits because you invite the world into your life before checking-in with you and your needs.
6. Show up!
By showing up every day, you move closer and closer to the levels where you know you belong. With each practice, you build confidence and grow prouder of yourself. Keep this in mind if you’re ever tempted to ditch a routine (or something else) that’s working for you.
Morning routines benefit everyone because we could all benefit from being organized. They’re for anyone who juggles a lot, need to save time, want to have less stressful mornings, or just start their day off on a more positive note. I started mine to help me beat procrastination and distraction, but my routine has also helped to improve my overall health. It has helped me to be consistent with my healthy habits. Thanks to my routine, I’m drinking more water, always walking, have a morning meditation practice, and fit in morning workouts.
So, once you’ve decided to create one, have the right attitude and find ways to help you stick to it. I’m confident that you too will experience more benefits than you expected.