Impact of a Morning Routine
I love mornings. Each new day brings new opportunities and a chance to start fresh and do better. How you start your day, or how you spend those first few morning hours, significantly impacts the rest of it. Think of it as setting the tone for your entire day. That is why making over your morning is so important. It is about much more than those first few hours.
I am sure you have experienced this yourself. Let’s use the snooze button as an example. You set an early alarm to ensure you have time for exercise, meditation, or some much-needed ìme timeî. You have every intention of getting up and doing whatever you are setting out to do when you set the alarm in the first place. Some mornings – hopefully most mornings – you get up when the alarm chimes and go for that walk, do your meditation exercise, or read a book for twenty minutes. Then there are those days when you can’t get up. You hit the snooze button multiple times, turn the alarm off, and go back to sleep.
Think about how the rest of those days went. Did you notice a difference in how you felt? How much did you get done in the mornings when you got your first alarm? Were you able to do all the things you set out to do? How did those days compare to the ones when you hit the snooze button over and over again?
If I had to guess, the mornings when you got up as soon as the alarm went off went much smoother. I bet you accomplished what you have planned to do, too. Chances are that sleeping through the snooze button didn’t affect your morning and the rest of your day. You set the tone for how your day will go first thing in the morning. That is what the old saying about getting up on the wrong side of the bed is about. Let’s ensure we get up on the right side and start our day positively and productively.
Use the tips in this article to guide you through making over your morning over the next seven days.
Define Your Perfect Morning
What is most important to you? What is the one thing you really want to do daily that would make a big difference but you can’t find the time for it?
In short, what good habit do you want to cultivate that would impact your life? Think about this for a moment. It could be in any area of your life, from exercise and healthy eating to self-improvement or getting ahead in business or at your job. It could be working on your relationship with your kids, finding time for creative pursuits, or reading every morning.
Once you have figured out what you want to work on, what you want to improve, and what is important to you, we’ll think about how you can make it part of your morning routine. Sit back and imagine your perfect morning. It isn’t stressed or rushed. Most importantly, it is a day when you have time for everything on your list. Maybe it means having time for a long shower. Maybe it is going for a run before breakfast. Maybe it has a few minutes to connect with your spouse over coffee or carve out an hour first thing in the morning to work on your side business.
That is a lot of maybes, but the key is to start with what is most important to you and think about how you could fit it into your morning routine. Remember, you are just dreaming and imagining at this point. We work on figuring out where to find the time to fit it in and how to make it all work out later. I want you to paint a vivid picture of your new morning.
I want you to understand what you want that perfect morning to look like. Imagine it in as much detail as you possibly can. Write it down in a journal or on paper, to which you can refer back as needed. In short, define your perfect morning.
Why is this so important? Because you can’t start to make any meaningful changes until you know what your goals are. You need to know your destination before you can pick a route and figure out how you get there. That is what today’s task is all about. It is figuring out where you want to get to. Don’t stop until you figure it out and firmly pictured it in your mind.
Finding Time In Your Busy Morning
Mornings are busy, and they can be pretty chaotic. You know this first hand if you have a young family and plenty of people to get ready and out the door. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way, no matter how busy you think you are first thing in the day. Earlier, I shared with you how the first few hours in the morning set the tone for the entire day. Do you want that to be rushed, frantic, and feel like you are constantly running and trying to catch up? Or do you want it to be calm, collected, productive, and with a feeling that you are in control? It is up to you, and it is all about embracing two simple concepts.
Get Up Early Enough
It is tempting to hit the snooze button and catch a few more minutes of sleep, isn’t it? It is even hard to set the alarm early enough to have plenty of time for everything you want and needs to get done. I get it. If you are not a morning person, moving up the alarm by 30 minutes to carve out a little extra time can be challenging. Trust me, though, after the first few mornings, it is not nearly as hard as you think and something you quickly get used to.
Getting up early enough and avoiding the snooze button at all costs is the key to an unrushed morning. Here is the problem with cutting time too short or hitting the snooze button a few times. It gets you behind from the very start. You must rush to make it out the door in time, and any little problem or speed bump turns into a huge problem. Not being able to find the car keys is suddenly a major crisis because it could cause you to be late for work and the kids tardy at school. Remember, your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. If you start it chasing down time and things, that is likely how you spend the rest of your time.
Getting up early enough, on the other hand, puts you ahead of the game. You are in control. You can take care of everything that needs doing calmly and still have time for the essential things you want to work on. In short, getting up early enough sets you up for a fantastic, productive day.
Restructure Your Routine
Before we wrap this up, consider your current morning routine and where you spend time. Look for things you can change and tweak to find more time for what you want to do. For example, if you want an extra 20 minutes in the morning to meditate, look at what you could take care of ahead of time, eliminate, or delegate to make that time. If you spend much time getting breakfast for everyone, set the breakfast table the night before. Get your spouse to get the coffee ready, so all you have to do in the morning is push a button. Teach the kids to make their breakfast, take the dirty dishes to the sink, rinse them, and put them in the dishwasher. Make sure clothes are set out the night before (including yours), that book bags, purses, briefcases, and car keys have a designated spot, and where they need to be before you turn in for the night. Small changes like this to your morning routine can make a big difference. I challenge you to develop a few minor tweaks that will save you at least 30 minutes in the morning.
Determining What You Should Be Doing Is Crucial
Now think about what you should and shouldn’t be doing in those first few hours of the day. That is an important idea to ponder. So often get stuck in a rut or a routine and do things because that is what we have always done. We do it without considering whether it is the best use of our time.
It’s Not About Cramming More Things Into Less Time
Making over your morning isn’t about figuring out how to cram more tasks into fewer hours. When you read books and articles on productivity and time management, that is often the main message and gist. While it can help in the short term, it isn’t a good long-term strategy for meaningful change. Very soon, you hit the limit of how much faster and more efficient you can get.
Shift your thinking, and don’t try to add to what you do in the morning. If you want 15 minutes for bible study, meditation, or exercise, don’t just think about getting up 15 minutes earlier or shaving 15 minutes off your morning routine by showering faster, getting dressed in record time, and rushing through breakfast. In other words, don’t add to your lengthy list of things that need to be done. You only feel more rushed and stressed if you do.
It’s About Making Smart Choices About Using Your Time
Instead, what you should be thinking about is the best use of your time in the morning. Compare your perfect morning with your current morning routine. What are you doing on your ideal morning? If you can start by cutting things out, finding time to do what is important to you becomes much more manageable.
There are two great ways to find things you can stop doing. The first is to look for busy work. You do this out of habit that doesn’t necessarily need doing every day. Maybe it is checking your email first thing in the morning or playing around on Facebook for half an hour while you drink your coffee. If that is how you spend your time, that is perfectly fine, but if you do it out of habit, it may be time to rethink it.
The second way to quickly earn back time is to see if you are doing things for others they can do themselves. Kids are the perfect example. We start fixing their breakfast, making their lunch, cleaning after them, picking out their clothes, and ensuring their backpack is packed and ready. When they are young, we have to do these things, but all too often, we continue to do them long after they can do things on their own. The same goes for things we do for our spouse. There may be a time when you had less to do in the morning, and it made sense to take on the majority of morning chores. Did things change, and if so, is it time to lighten your load and get help from your partner? A few small changes may be all it takes to make time for what is important to you in your busy morning.
Come Up With A New Morning Game Plan
Now that you have a pretty good idea of what you want to do in the morning, what you don’t want to or need to do, and where to find the extra time needed, it is time to put it all together in a new morning game plan.
The best place to start is with the new set of tasks that are most important to you. Figure out a preliminary time during which you want to get them accomplished. If you aim to run in the morning, do that before showering and having breakfast. If your goal is to meditate each morning, it may work best after you have had a cup of coffee. If you aim to find some time for reading or your favorite hobby in the morning, you could carve out some time before everyone else gets up and while you enjoy that first coffee. The same goes for wanting time in the morning to work on your business or learn something new.
Then work the rest of your morning chores around these new plans. It may take shuffling around and mixing up your current routine, but you can devise a working plan with creative thinking and flexibility.
Making over your morning and turning it into a new routine isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us. It takes a little while to get into the groove of things. We’ll look at this in a little more detail tomorrow. For right now, my suggestion is that you write your new morning game plan down. It is easy to forget what you are planning to do. Writing it down will give you a reference to refer back to and solidify your new plan.
Put the note or notebook where you jotted down your new plan on your night table or somewhere else where you see it first thing in the morning. It will remind you what you intend to do and do differently in the morning.
Even though you have written your plan down, realizing it is not written in stone is essential. The well-laid-out plans don’t always work when put into action. Adjust it and make changes as needed until you develop a new morning game plan that works well for you and the rest of your family. Once you have that, it is time to make it the new routine.
The Importance Of Habits And Routines
With your new morning game plan figured out, it is time to implement it and make it your new morning routine. Why is this important? Because you want to ensure your new plan happens every morning without fail, turning it into a routine is the best way to ensure it happens.
Before something becomes a habit or a routine, it takes a lot of willpower to things happen. You will need that energy for other things throughout your morning and the busy rest of the day. Yes, it will take some willpower, mental energy, and drive at first to create new morning habits, but once they are set, it will become automatic, like brushing your teeth before bed.
Once you come up with a good working morning routine, stick to it for a few weeks. That is the best way to turn it into a strong habit. Before long, it will feel like the new normal, and you no longer have to remind yourself to do each things along the way. It will become a habit and a routine you follow automatically. It will take much less effort and mental pep-talk to get things done—even if your new routine includes a 30-minute run or getting up at dawn to work on your most crucial business task for an hour.
Watch for moments when you slip back into your old habits and routines. It is going to happen. The key is to catch it early and get back on track as quickly as possible. For example, let’s say you have been doing well with waking up 30 minutes earlier and going for a run before you start your day. Then one day, you oversleep and can’t make it out there, the weather turns too bad, you get sick or hurt, or something else that keeps you from going on that run pops up. Thatís life. It happens. What is important is what you decide to do the following day.
Your most important job whenever life gets in the way of your new morning routine is to get back on track as quickly as possible. Do what you can as soon as you notice the disruption. If the weather is terrible, do a quick workout at home, or head to the gym to run on the treadmill. If you overslept, squeeze in a few minutes of meditation or do something to grow your business before returning to the rest of your day. Most importantly, get back on track with your regular morning routine immediately. Get back into your new habits the following day. Actively remind yourself to get back on track for a few days until it routine is firmly back in place. You will be glad you did when you start to see the results you have been hoping for.
Take Time To Review Your Morning Routine Regularly
Creating routines and habits for your mornings is a great thing. They allow you to do what you need to do to move ahead without spending a lot of energy and time thinking about it. That is a good thing. It can also be dangerous when you focus on the wrong things and are in the habit of doing things that don’t help you reach your goals.
When we get into a routine, it is hard to stop and ask ourselves if it works as well as possible. Even more importantly, with a routine and established habits, it is easy to keep going even when the circumstances change. That is why it is essential to take some time now and again to review our routine and habits, including the new morning routine.
Set aside a little time every few weeks or even months to review your routine. Put it on the calendar and make sure you do it. It won’t take long and will be a precious exercise in the long run. Our lives and circumstances change. Our routines should change with it. Just because something has served us well over the past few weeks and months doesn’t mean it will continue to do so. This brings up a good pointÖ
When you sit down to review your morning routine (or any routine or habit you have been working on for that matter), ask yourself this:
Is it working? Is it working well?
If it is, carry on. If it isn’t, it may be time to make some changes and tweak it until you find something that works well for you at that particular point in time.
Another way to look at it is to find what you love and hate about the new morning routine. Change it until you get as close to loving everything about it and still getting the desired results.
Remember, this morning routine will change and evolve as you, your circumstances, and the people in your life change and evolve. Embrace the changes and see them as indicating that you are making progress.
Keep tweaking and improving your morning routine, and feel free to mix up your goals. You could start by making exercise a priority first thing in the day. As time goes by and you become fitter and make time for it later in the day, your focus may shift to meditation or learning a new language. Keep evolving, keep changing, and use those precious first few hours of each day to establish a positive change in yourself and those around you.