Sometimes we think our morning routine should look a certain way for it to be considered “successful.”
The truth is, there’s no morning routine police out there regulating what should be in our routines. It’s no one’s business but yours what you do with your morning time.
That said, there are some categories you might want to consider when you’re thinking about how to create and implement the perfect morning routine for you.
1. Start with something you really love to do
Is there something you would love to do on a consistent basis? Something that, when you get to the end of the day you wish you had been able to squeeze in?
For me that something is journaling. On days that I don’t get my journaling in, I feel less settled and more scattered. My morning pages really help set the tone for my entire day, and I love doing them. So it’s worth it for me to have this be an anchor in my morning routine.
Other options might be a meditation practice, an early morning walk, or even just some quiet time with a great cup of coffee.
2. Consider something that will make your day run more smoothly
In my morning routine that something is emptying the dishwasher. I started noticing that when the dishes pile up during the day it’s usually because the dishwasher is full of clean dishes. I also started noticing that a backlog of dishes was not just annoying but actually was causing me serious stress.
The answer: I built emptying the dishwasher into my morning routine. I do it while I brew the coffee, and I make it a race to see if I can get the dishwasher empty before the coffee is done brewing.
This also accomplishes keeping me off social media while I wait for the coffee, because as soon as my nose goes into the phone I might as well call off the rest of the routine.
Some other options might be: getting the lunches ready for the day, folding a load of laundry, making the bed, weeding the garden, etc. Ok, I guess chores kind of fall into this, but it might be something else entirely for you.
3. Incorporate something you want to make a daily habit
Let’s be honest. For many people this one ends up being workouts. And yes, that’s what I’ve done too.
As a night owl, I actually love working out at night. My favourite time to exercise is around 9 pm because my energy is high then and I can push hard. But it was way too easy for other stuff to get in the way (often the backlog of dishes) and the workout kept getting skipped.
I hated the morning workout habit for a long, long time. I started very slowly, going for consistency over anything else. I started with yoga videos while I worked on my morning habit, being very gentle with myself on the (many) days when I just didn’t want to do it.
It really helped to start this habit slowly. On those days when I really didn’t want to do it, I gave myself permission just to sit there and do an easy video. Sometimes I cut it short after 10 minutes, but I just focused on showing up.
Eventually I wanted to ramp things up and now I do a full-on sweaty workout most mornings.
Pro tip: put a time limit on this. Workouts always take longer than you think they will because there’s set up and shower and whatever else goes with it.
In my world 25 minutes is my workout maximum. Any more than that and I get antsy. But I do it 6 days a week, without fail and I feel so much better.
Some other suggestions might be: practicing your instrument, walking the dog, meditating, etc.
How to implement your perfect morning routine
This is really the question. You can have the best, most slick and awesome morning routine planned, but implementing – and sustaining – the thing is really the challenge.
1. Be realistic about the timings
If you plan 20 minutes for your workout but forget to factor in set up, change of clothes, post-workout nutrition prep and possibly a shower, you’ll find yourself out of time.
2. Get your stuff and spaces ready
There’s no greater momentum killer in a morning routine than having to stop and find something you need, or prepare your space to do the thing.
For your workout have all your clothes and gear ready. I rely on having my workout clothes ready to jump into when I get up, but everything has to be in place the night before or I’ll just go back to bed.
Is your journaling space clear and ready to receive you? Don’t be stuck hunting for your pen or paper, or having to clear a space. Get that done the night before
3. Plan your transitions
Think about how you’ll move from one thing to the next. Picture yourself finishing one activity (unloading the dishwasher) and starting the next (journaling). How can you manage this transition smoothly so you don’t have to backtrack a bunch of times? This is closely linked to the previous suggestion.
4. Determine your end time
This “end time” is the point at which you need to get the rest of your day started. Most days have such a time. That might be the time you need to leave the house to get to work on time, or get the kids out the door to catch the school bus.
It’s up to you to determine how much of that morning prep time falls into the “morning routine” category and how much can be considered just getting things ready. You may also change your mind about where that line falls, and that’s ok. Do what works for you.
Maybe you know exactly what time you need to switch into get-ready-for-the-day mode, or maybe your schedule makes this less obvious. Your weekend days will likely look different than your weekdays.
Someone who has kids and who works outside the home will have different morning demands than someone who lives alone and works from home.
5. It doesn’t have to be perfect
Once more: there is no rule that says your morning routine should look a certain way. If you’re a perfectionist please hear me on this.
You do not need to have certain things in your routine to make it worthwhile.
When starting to implement your perfect morning routine, It’s ok to do only part of the routine some mornings. If doing your full routine feels to hard at first, just focus on adding one category at a time. It took me a long time to get to the routine I have now.
Some days you may have to shorten it. My current routine is based on my regular day starting at 9am. On a day when I have an earlier start it’s usually not worth it for me to adjust my wakeup time to get everything in. On those days I’ll usually skip the workout or substitute a shorter one. Plan ahead for this.
6. Remember the bedtime connection
You can have a killer routine and a perfect plan, but if your sleep sucks you might as well forget it. It’s all connected. You can certainly function on not-enough-sleep for a day or two but it’s definitely not recommended.
If you find yourself running short on sleep too many days in a row while you’re implementing your routine you should probably shift your focus to the bedtime routine and get that nailed down. Scale back on the morning routine for a bit while you get that sorted then return to the project.
This little dance is something you’ll have to revisit constantly, especially as you implement and revise your morning. You may also find you’ll have to tweak things for each season, especially as back-to-school ramps up again.
Baby steps, consistently
Yes, you can do this. Be realistic, take baby steps, be consistent, and remember your bedtime routine connection.
Need some help with how to implement your perfect morning routine? Leave a comment below or shoot me a message!