“Creating a morning routine is not focused on who can accomplish the most or check off more boxes than everyone else, it is about allowing yourself to begin your day with confidence, peace, and a positive attitude.” - Jodi Clarke, mental health expert
Imagine it’s 9 p.m.
I can’t believe the day’s over, you think. Where did the time go??
I had such high hopes today. I really wanted to [insert important activities here].
Instead I answered endless emails, ran trivial errands, and got sucked into (yet another) work “emergency”.
I was so optimistic this morning. How did the day get away from me - AGAIN??
Do your hopes for the day get hacked on a regular basis? How you spend your time first thing in the morning could be to blame.
Over the past few months I’ve written blogs that address our need to create more space for ourselves in an overstimulating world. We need various kinds of space - mental, emotional, personal, relationship, and others - to function optimally. (Check out my other blogs to learn more.)
But the space we give ourselves in the morning is possibly the most important space of all.
Experts agree that what you do first thing each day greatly influences how the day unfolds.
“Although coaches have varied ideas on the types of daily habits to include, most agree that how we begin our day has a tremendous impact on how the rest of the day seems to go,” says counselor and mental health expert Jodi Clarke LPC/MHSP.
If you’re like me, your mind starts racing before your feet hit the floor and you’ve downed that first sip of coffee. By the time you’re headed to work, you can barely keep your thoughts straight.
This is completely understandable given our fast-paced culture. It’s impossible to assess your priorities and put together a reasonable action plan for your day unless you deliberately make time and space for it. Doing so requires quiet time away from distractions at the beginning of the day, before we get sucked down the rabbit hole.
This is where an effective morning routine can be a lifesaver.
Just like detaching from the work day each evening is important to relieve stress and re-energize, an effective “reattachment” routine in the morning is also important. It can significantly improve your ability to manage your time and energy effectively, and help you feel more positive about the day in general.
An effective morning routine is so important that (please don’t hate me for this) it’s worth getting up earlier for. Hitting the snooze button feels good at that moment. But giving yourself the space you need to get a good headstart on your day is much more likely to give you the energy boost and better mindset you really want.
Willing to give a new morning routine a try? Try this one:
- Inspire yourself with treats. If getting up earlier is hard, plan something inspirational. Buy gourmet coffee (and set the coffee pot timer so a fresh cup is waiting for you). Program your alarm to a favorite song. Buy a super comfy robe you wear only for your morning routine.
- Journal to clear emotional clutter. Bad dream, or lingering frustrations from yesterday got you in a tizzy? Grab a journal and start scribbling so you can unload old baggage and move on with a clean (or cleaner) slate.
- Plan, plan, plan.
- Begin with the end in mind. Stephen Covey (of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) says, “Lead your life or someone else will.” Start the day by thinking about how you want to feel at the end of it. What will you wish had been your priority? What will give you satisfaction to complete?
- Start with big picture priorities. What big dreams and goals are you hoping to work towards today? Start that awesome project? Be well-prepared for a meeting? Work out? (Don’t forget to prioritize the restorative alongside the productive!)
- Plan your actions. This is your “To Do” list. What specific actions will you take today that make these priorities a reality over time? Think small (doable is far preferable to ambitious) and be specific. My example: When my priority is to write a blog for you fine people, a specific action on a given day might be “spend 15 minutes researching X blog topic.” I’ve published 60 (wait - 61!) blogs over two years by stringing together steps this small. Rome wasn’t built in a day, my friends, but it’s wonderful nonetheless. So are some of your priorities; they’re worth working towards one small step at a time.
- Make a “Don’t Do” list. There is tremendous power in writing things down. Decide first thing in the morning which tasks you won’t do that day and write them down. Be realistic and ruthless. This action sends a signal to your brain, giving you permission to not accomplish certain things and prevent a lingering sense of “never enough” deficiency from hanging over your head.
Can’t do your routine every morning? No worries! Going through your routine just a few mornings a week can make a measurable difference in what you accomplish over the course of the week and how you feel about it.
When you take the time to find a morning routine that works for you, congratulate yourself! You’ve taken ownership of your priorities and your time - and therefore, your life.