Mornings – whether you love them or hate them, you’re never going to escape them. And, believe it or not, you likely already have a morning routine – even if it’s wake up, groan your way out of bed, chug coffee and rush into your clothes because you’re late, again, and where is your wallet?! – that’s a routine (it’s just a really dysfunctional one).
Imagine if your mornings started off peaceful, painless, and productive – how much better could your life get? We’re going to do the crazy thing here and create your flawless morning routine to try to find out.
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Why Do You Need a Morning Routine?
Daily routines in general are one of the best things you can do for yourself. There’s a few reasons why you might want to consider creating a morning routine specifically:
It removes all the stress and chaos of waking up
If your mornings look like our example routine above – or if they’re even more hectic, filled with barking dogs, hungry kids, and also-rushing spouses – you know what I mean when I refer to the chaos of mornings. There’s breakfast to make, bodies to get dressed, and lunches to pack. You need your shoes, keys, wallet, phone, bag, backpacks, signed forms, daycare supplies… there’s a lot going on. Without a plan of attack, mornings can quickly devolve into chaos, and the adrenaline and stress from that colors your attitude of the whole day. If you don’t believe me, try sleeping in until the last possible second tomorrow, and see how fast your entire day can unravel.
It primes your brain to get stuff done
There’s something about checking items off of a to-do list that motivates you to get the next thing done, too. Letting your brain know right off the bat that it’s a getting-stuff-done kind of day can keep you more productive, and less resistant, when faced with the mountain of tasks that seem to come at you almost every day of the week. Start your day off right by taking charge of your mornings, and watch how easily that “I don’t wanna” can fall by the wayside.
It helps you build new habits
Setting new goals? Working towards something big? The best way to stay on target when you’re working towards a big goal is to incorporate goal-work into your day to day life. And working those baby steps into your morning routine ensures that not only will it get done every day – you’ll get it out of the way first thing in the morning so you can go about the rest of your day worry-free. Building goal work into your morning routine keeps you focused and growing – almost on autopilot! – by taking the effort out of finding time to do it.
You can take advantage of a blank slate
The morning is an incredible time. We get a new beginning, every day, where yesterday’s worries and annoyances are in the past, and today’s haven’t happened yet. Who doesn’t love a fresh start? Mornings are when your creativity is at its brightest, and your willpower meter is full. I find it ten times easier to be optimistic and positive in the mornings – even when I’d really rather still be in bed sleeping. The day hasn’t weighed down on you yet, and the possibilities are endless. Take full advantage of this great mental state to set yourself up for success.
Related: How to Wake Up Early (and maybe even enjoy it!)
How to Set Up Your Perfect Morning Routine
This is where I like to do a little brainstorming.
Although there’s a ton of websites out there that want to set up your morning routine for you, doing it yourself is really the only way to, A) make sure it will stick, and B) make sure it’s incorporating your own priorities and goals.
First figure out your absolute necessities. These are the things that have to happen every morning, no matter what. The stuff that, if you woke up two minutes before you have to leave for work, you’d still take time to do. These are your non-negotiables. Things like brushing your teeth, making coffee if you’re a coffee drinker.
I suggest just writing down all the things that you know you NEED to do in order to have a good morning. Don’t worry about the order yet – just brainstorm.
Next, think about your goals for the year. If you’ve mapped out your goals and broken them down into baby steps, then you know the things you need to do each day to keep moving toward that goal. If not, now is an excellent time to do that! I suggest adding your daily goal work in to your morning routine to put yourself in a pattern of success – if you get it done first thing in the morning, you don’t need to worry about when you’ll be able to find time to do it. It’s done!
Maybe you’re on a weight loss or fitness journey – first thing in the morning is an excellent time to go for a run or do some yoga. Maybe you’re working on your novel – crank out those 1000 words before your brain wakes up enough to make you second guess everything you put down! If you’re building a business, working on a big project, or on a path of personal development… dedicating 10-20 minutes (or more if you can swing it) every day to it can seriously supercharge your results.
Smaller goals can fit in here great, too. Maybe you’re trying to get a proper skincare routine going, or hoping to kickstart some healthier eating habits. Prioritizing self-care first thing in the morning is a great idea as well. Maybe you’re decluttering and could challenge yourself to finding a new item to rehome every day! Brainstorm a list of “big” and “small” goal work tasks you could add in to your routine.
When you’re done brainstorming, it’s time to pull out which tasks mean the most to you to create your ideal morning routine.
It’s important to be mindful of how much time you have and how much time each task will take… writing out a morning routine of 20+ items isn’t going to help you if each task on your list takes ten to fifteen minutes to complete. You don’t want to end up scheduled to death and find yourself more stretched for time than you were before! I advise you stick to one “big” piece of goal work and two or three smaller things on your list, plus your non-negotiables.
Related: It’s Not You, It’s Your Goals: How to write goals that stick so you’ll actually achieve them
The trick to keeping to your routine is writing it down.
Seriously. It takes, on average, 30 days to form a new habit.
So for those first 30 days of your morning routine, it’s going to feel new and strange. You might be tempted to skip a day, or you might groggily decide it’s not worth doing the whole thing every time.
Leave yourself public reminders that this is important to you, and you set it for a reason. Write out your morning routine steps on a post it note and leave it on the bathroom mirror, or the front of the fridge. Write it down in your planner, and leave it open on your bedside table when you go to sleep.
I don’t know about you, but some days when I wake up, nothing in the world seems as important as going back to sleep. Having written reminders around the areas I see first thing in the morning actually helped a lot in keeping me motivated to go through my routine even when I could barely keep my eyes open.
Personally, I like keeping things like this in my planner, where all my lists can live in the same place. This way I always know where to look to get a refresher on my priorities at any given time. I use a Recollections planner from Michaels but whatever you’re using works just as well.
Do you have a morning routine that works for you? Let us know in the comments!