Mornings. I wouldn’t always have defined myself as a morning person. Let alone someone whose figured out how to create the perfect morning routine.
I used to wake right before I needed to go to work. I’d roll out of bed, sort of get ready and head to my car for my hour long commute. Without really a chance to breathe.
Then, one day I decided I wanted to become a writer. I was teaching at the time and signed up for a Children’s Literature Writing class.
The course required me to complete a series of writing assignments. I loved it. But, I never had any time to actually work on it.
I couldn’t figure out how to get more hours into my day, so I started getting up at 4:30 a.m. This way I had a couple of hours to write before I needed to teach.
Those morning hours had a wonderful magic to them. It was just me and my computer clicking away. Even if some of the writing was completed under a sleepy haze, at least I was writing. By spending time writing in the morning, the rest of my day became super productive.
Then, we started a family and early morning hours were no longer ours. Instead, they were filled with nursing, snuggles and soothing teething pain.
It wasn’t until recently – when I started writing this blog regularly – that I decided to reclaim the early morning work times again.
Now, I wake early, stretch and have my morning coffee. Then, I start writing. It’s a wonderful quiet period before I get into the chaos of our days.
And I love this time. My morning gives me a chance to get all of my thoughts on paper in silence. Also, getting the tasks that I want to do out of the way in the morning, let’s me be super productive with the rest of my day. I’m able to tackle my to do list, run my business and spend time with my family – all because I had a few minutes to do something for myself in the morning.
Your perfect morning routine will probably look a bit different. But no matter what you decide to spend your time doing, your morning routine needs to be focused on you.
As proven by many wildly successful entrepreneurs, the things that you do first thing in the morning set the tone for your success and productivity during the rest of the day. Your choices first thing in the morning lay the foundation to how your entire day will flow.
Use this special morning time to do the things that you love, make you feel complete and refresh you to tackle the day ahead.
Everyone’s perfect morning routine will look different. Here are some things from my morning routine that I’ve found have made me productive and successful during my work day.
Don’t Hit Snooze
This one’s a tough one. I don’t know who invented that button on the alarm clock, but it can be so alluring first thing in the morning.
Whatever you do, no matter what the time, when the alarm sounds don’t hit snooze. It’s a never ending cycle that’s hard to break. If you do hit the snooze button, when you finally do get up, it’s only to discover half an hour has gone by already.
Instead, start your morning routine with an activity that you enjoy and will look forward to. Have a reason to get up and you’ll be less likely to hit the snooze button. For me, it’s coffee (after a bit of water, of course). I hear the coffee machine beep and I know that I can get a steaming hot cup of my favorite brew just downstairs. This is enough to make me roll out of bed even at the craziest of hours.
Review your Goals
The only way to stay on track with accomplishing your goals is to know what they are in the first place. I take a few minutes every morning to review my quarterly and weekly goals. This helps me stay motivated for the day.
Read over your goals every morning. This is your chance to make a few tweaks, decide on smaller projects and understand exactly what you need to do to get closer to the finish line.
Write your To Do List
After I read over my goals, I write my to do list for the day. I choose 3 to 4 tasks that I hope to complete during my work time that day. These tasks are steps to getting my smaller projects completed. (Remember, the smaller projects lead to the bigger goal.)
Getting my to do list written early helps me prepare for the day ahead. It takes the things that might be causing me to feel overwhelmed and puts them on paper. This way they aren’t taking up precious attention and I can actually enjoy my morning routine.
Track your Expenses
This one’s a new morning routine item for me, but definitely an important one. According to Denise Thomas in her book Lucky Bitch, in order to have a better relationship with money, you need to track your expenses daily.
I am still working on the daily tracking, but I do find it helpful to fit this piece into my morning routine. And I recommend doing so after you’ve had coffee.
By monitoring my accounts more frequently and reviewing the previous day’s spending, I’m able to track habits and understand our current spending patterns. This knowledge helps me make better financial decisions and be aware of how our money is being used. It’s probably also helpful to seeing any potential problems before they surface.
Tracking your expenses doesn’t have to be difficult. You could just write them into an Excel spreadsheet, use a expense tracking worksheet or even purchase an accounting program to help you monitor your spending. It’s just important that you do it.
If you run a business, I also use this time to track my business expenses. I write down any major spending that I had to do and file my receipts. This helps me stay organized for tax season at the end of the year.
Water before Coffee
Have you ever woken up feeling dehydrated? And then reached for your cup of coffee and started drinking?
Sadly, the coffee won’t help. It just makes you even more dehydrated.
Instead of drinking coffee first thing in the morning, reach for a glass of water. Probably a couple of glasses.
After a night of sleeping, your body needs some hydration to be healthy. Drink this water BEFORE your coffee. I know it sounds reversed, but you will feel more refreshed and ready to tackle your day.
Everyone likes to workout during different parts of their day. I love working out right after my morning writing time. It helps me wake up out of the morning writing fog.
If you’re looking for a stimulating way to start your morning, add exercise into your morning routine. Any kind of physical movement – whether you’re running a couple of miles, walking the dog or doing stretching – will help awaken your brain. You’ll find your whole outlook for the day changes.
Do Something for You
This element of my morning routine is part of my mom self care. It’s important that I spend some time of my morning doing something that I love.
What is it that you love to do, but never seem to have any time for any more? I know, tough question. But whatever the answer – as long as it’s on the quieter side – could be an activity during those hours before the rest of the family wakes up.
For me, it’s writing. I work on blog posts for this blog, my business blog and any other writing projects that I’m currently pursuing. I LOVE to write, but I do it best in the morning. Especially before everyone else is out of bed.
Figure out the activity that you love to do. Maybe it’s scrapbooking, journaling, hand lettering or another creative pursuit. It could be yoga, gardening (better during the summer months) or woodworking. Whatever your choice, spend at least 15 minutes working on it. You will feel more refreshed to tackle the day ahead and know you got some “you time” in.
Get Up to Date
With our 24 hour news cycle, it’s hard not to stay up to date on current events these days. But I do find that I like to start my work day with a general idea of any major issues going on in the world.
I usually do a quick news sweep while exercising or eating breakfast. This gives me a chance to know what is going on. I am sure to read both national and local headlines so I know what’s happening in our community too.
Knowing the news can also help make you more well rounded. It gives you conversation topics – even if it’s just with your neighbor – and let’s you be a more informed citizen.
Have you ever started your day with stillness? As an active morning person, the first thing I do when the alarm goes off is grab my phone and check the alerts from overnight. It’s a terrible habit.
I’ve thought about changing this initial part of my morning routine. Instead of grabbing my phone, I’d love to sit down and meditate. Meditation can be a wonderful way to find quiet in your mind and start your day off on a positive tone.
Suddenly, it doesn’t seem to matter what the next customer says to you or how many demands you receive from others. By taking time to center yourself, you can remember what’s really important in the world.
So, find a quiet corner and pick your mantra. Although it might be a bit of a struggle at first, try to get all of the have tos out of your mind and find the calm.
Now, I’ll admit this is easier said than done. Successful meditation sessions, like everything else, takes practice. If you’re interested in starting your own morning meditation routine, check out Sarah’s journey. She talks about her struggles with establishing her own routine and how practice makes habit.
As hard as it might be at first, if completed daily, your meditation sessions will eventually become a natural part of your morning. And definitely a better habit than checking your phone. Daily meditation is also a great way to find more mindfulness. That has to lead to a better more productive day ahead.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
We’ve all heard this mantra since our early years – you need to eat a healthy breakfast every morning. The key word there is “healthy”. A sugary cereal, fried foods or the such don’t really come under that category.
But, really, eating a healthy breakfast is important to getting your day off on the right foot. Just like your car needs fuel to start up each morning, your body needs food to get going.
So, take the time to eat breakfast. You’ll be surprised at the results.
Not everyone is a morning person and that’s okay. If you find your mornings a bit less productive and want to change that, maybe it’s time to create your perfect morning routine.
The best part about my mornings is that they are quiet. And I get to fill them any way I desire.
When creating your perfect morning routine, start with one of your favorite activities. It will give you a true purpose to get out of bed.
Mine is writing. You’ll find me journaling, brainstorming and even blogging with a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.
And even if you are more of a night owl, try waking up just ten minutes early one morning. Choose a short activity and see if you have more energy throughout your day.
Here’s to productive mornings ahead!