Oh the idea of the morning routine. They are everywhere. There's even a website dedicated to interviewing people about the topic, called "My Morning Routine." There are super productive people out there that have a really great ritual, like my friend and career expert Melody Wilding. Author Gretchen Rubin regularly thinks and blogs about the topic, due to her interest in habits and behavior. Another favorite author of mine is Jenny Blake, who has a morning routine that sounds heavenly.
But have you ever tried to create a morning routine and failed miserably at it?
Sometimes we read about other people's morning routines and dream up what ours could be like. My friend, Dr. Amanda Crowell, just wrote about her "missing morning routine" over on Powerful Peony. We create our dream morning routines and even make big declarations like, "Tomorrow I will get up at 5:00AM and be super productive!"
But then we sleep in until 11...or 12...or later, wonder where the day went, and feel pretty bad about our morning routine in general. Sound familiar? That's pretty much how I spent most of my early twenties, especially when I had a flexible schedule and didn't have to be anywhere until later in the afternoon. Or I let my work schedule dictate when I woke up and went to bed without considering what I wanted to do. We've already talked about adjusting your sleep habits on the blog, and for me - that was the key to creating a morning routine. I couldn't establish a consistent morning routine until I regulated my sleep schedule effectively.
Making teeny tiny changes at first can help shape your behavior.
Making a morning routine that works for you doesn't happen literally in one night. Hopefully, you find that reassuring rather than discouraging. I still find myself tweaking and changing my morning routine to make it "better" and more efficient. I look at the people who wake up at 5:00AM and have all these productive moments to themselves and think, "eventually." Eventually, I'll get there. I have to be kind to myself and not feel bad after I have a day of "sleeping in" or staying up too late. It happens! It took me years to get to a point where waking up at 6:00AM every morning feels normal and part of my routine.
The productivity expert, Michael Hyatt, recommends several steps to establishing a morning routine, including committing yourself to 21 days to form the habit. Although I would take it to the next step and look at the research that recommends 66 days to establish a new habit that sticks.
Beyond commitment to a schedule and getting enough sleep, what else can you do?
Here are some ideas for small changes that you can experiment with:
- What are you eating for breakfast? Protein and fruit or something that makes you want to go back to sleep (like sugary cereal or skipping it completely)? Do you drink coffee or juice in the morning? Keep track. Notice how it makes you feel.
- Are you looking at your phone first thing in the morning? Does that dictate the rest of your day? What if you wait to look at your phone until 30 minutes after getting up?
- Do you have time for a five- or ten-minute meditation? Sometimes taking a few minutes to center ourselves sets a great tone for the day. Personally, my best mornings start with a 20-minute meditation.
- Can someone (or something) help keep you accountable? For me, my dogs are on a pretty regimented routine in the morning. They know once I get up...they get to go outside and then eat breakfast. Their motivation is high to get me up and moving! Sometimes other people can help keep us accountable too - we just have to ask.
- What's a reward you could give yourself in the morning for following your routine? Could you spend some extra time searching for funny videos on YouTube later in the day? Or have a piece of chocolate for following through? You know what rewards work for you - try to use them to your advantage.