Morning routines: Change your habits, change your life.

The word "routine" sounds daunting. In Japanese, I'd say it sounds, "mendokusai". But the truth is that routines are essential. They help to bring some semblance of order and structure to our daily lives. So many people around the world attribute their successes to their routines. From well-known athletes, writers, musicians, dancers, entrepreneurs, you name it, they have routines that they try really hard to stick to. Most of us already have a routine too. It’s probably just not a very wholesome or constructive one. The building blocks of our routine are our habits which either help us or harm us, presently or in the future. These habits performed sequentially come together and form our actual routine without us even realising it. If you asked me last year what my morning routine was, I'd simply tell you that I don't have one. But I did. Every morning, I'd stay in bed past my wake-up time, I'd eventually roll out of bed, spend more time than I had to take a shower, brush my teeth and do my skincare routine (the skincare routine is a sure thing) then,  scramble to find an outfit and get dressed, haul my garbage out the door, and finally head to work feeling tired and rushed.  Some mornings I'd have to sprint to the train station to get there just in time for the last early train.

I knew I had to examine myself and identify the habits that were holding me back and causing me to fail or feel unproductive.  

Recently, I've had the privilege to read, "My Morning Routine: How successful people start every day inspired" by Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander. Since then I decided to establish a proper morning routine. That said, I’m writing from the perspective of someone who only recently had absolutely no structure to her morning. As someone who feels like she has 5 hundred thousand tasks to do per day, my former morning routine was not allowing me to maximise my 24 hours.  I've swapped out some poor habits for good ones and I’m loving the experience so far. These days, when I leave my apartment in the morning for work, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I’m currently exploring ideas for an equally gratifying evening routine. So far, not so good. 

I'm not here to tell you the 10 steps to a perfect morning routine or the best things to do to improve your daily productivity, simply because I don't know them.  Everyone is different and we all lead different lives. We all have different priorities and goals. What I do want to share are some habits I changed to optimise my mornings and ultimately set me up to have a good day. I trust they'll encourage you to examine your own habits and determine what's worth changing or keeping. 

Get out of bed (and stay out) when the alarm sounds.

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash
I've had a 5:30 wake-up time for many years now no matter where I am, what day of the week it is, if I’m on vacation, etc. ypically, my body naturally wakes up around 3-7 minutes before the alarm sounds. The problem though is that I'd usually crawl back into bed for anywhere between 3 minutes and an hour. These days with the new routine, I hop out of bed at 5:30 sharp, stop the alarm on my iPhone that’s usually on the floor beside my bed (so I kinda have to reach for it), then I walk over to the closet where my iPad is blaring “Zim Zimma, who’s got the keys to my motherfuckin' Beemer, bitch…". It makes me come alive. I’m not going back to bed now, it’s go time! I believe the takeaway here is that I have to (a) walk to the closet and (b), the music I added as my alarm ringer gives me an extra push.

No cellphone or social media until 7 am.

Photo by Adem AY on Unsplash
I don’t use my cellphone or open any social media app until I’ve left home or about 7 am if I’m staying in. I’ll use my iPad, though but not for social media. I’ll touch more on that later. I've realised that social media takes up too much of my time in the morning when I should be “setting the pace” for my day. I don’t want that kind of distraction anymore. I can catch up on content after I’ve done something I'm proud of. 

Morning workout for the confidence boost.

I train abs every single morning at 6 am. Some mornings depending on my workout schedule, I’ll also do chest/shoulders or arms/back as well. On Mondays and Fridays, I run. Legs are strictly for later in the day when I have about an hour to spare or at least the greater part thereof. So that brings me to the iPad. It serves as my music player (if I don’t want to turn on the TV) and as a timer for my planks and such. On a run day, I’ll bring my phone but I most likely have it on airplane mode or data is disabled. I have 5 songs previously downloaded that I listen to in rotation while I run as well as my favourite episodes of the Jocko Willink podcast. 

It feels so good to know I have burned some calories and obliterated some muscle group before heading out to work. 

Tidy up a bit.  

Photo by Sergei Sushchik on Unsplash
I don't always have everything neatly organised and tidy before I go to bed. Sometimes I shamefully wake up to dishes in the sink, laundry that needs to be folded, shoes that need to be stowed away in the shoe closet by the door, etc. I don't necessarily want to do these things in the morning but remember I said I'm working on creating an evening routine so until then these tasks are a part of my morning routine. I clean up a little upon waking up and before I begin my workout. Having a clean living environment always feels good. While I'm leaving home in the morning, I love how the entryway is clean and illuminated by the sunlight beaming in. At this point, there are no dishes in the sink and no laundry laying around waiting to be put away. 

Small changes like these made a huge difference in my mood upon leaving home in the mornings. I still need to establish a proper evening routine but for now, my mornings are great and this makes me happy.

Now, I'm aware that this approach can't possibly work for everyone. Some of us are parents, some of us are just not morning persons, somMorning routines*e of us work the night shift, and so on. These circumstances will have a huge impact on the flow of our morning. 

Over to you...

What does your morning look like? Are your morning habits enabling you to be as productive as you want to be? Do you prefer to be productive in the evening? I'd like to hear from you in the comments below. 

Until next time,


Popular Posts