Building a Morning Routine for Success

There is science behind creating a morning routine to start your day.

Biologist Christoph Randler surveyed 367 university students, and found that people whose performance peaks in the morning are better positioned for career success, because they’re more proactive than people who are at their best in the evening.

A University of Pennsylvania-led study in which training was provided to a high-stress U.S. military group preparing for deployment to Iraq has demonstrated a positive link between mindfulness training, or MT, and improvements in mood and working memory. Mindfulness is the ability to be aware and attentive of the present moment without emotional reactivity or volatility.

You might be saying about now:  “If I get out of bed in the morning and drag myself to the kitchen for coffee, I consider that a productive morning.  Get real. You want me to do more stuff?”

Yes, I do. Because doing a little more stuff in the morning will make the rest of your day better.

But before I lay out the plan, repeat after me:

“I will not have an ‘all or nothing’ attitude.”

You aren’t and don’t have to be perfect. If some morning you just don’t have the time (or the inclination) to do one (or more) parts of your morning ritual, don’t beat yourself up. Do less or just skip those parts.

Here are the basic components of an effective morning routine:

Early Wake-up Time

Hydration and Nutrition

Exercise and Movement

Mindfulness or Meditation

Goal Setting and Prioritization

Early Wake-up Time:

  • What it Means: Setting an early wake-up time is about establishing a consistent and intentional start to the day. It allows individuals to take advantage of the quiet, uninterrupted time in the morning for personal growth and self-care.
  • Execution: Determine a wake-up time that allows for at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Gradually shift bedtime earlier to make waking up earlier more sustainable. Use an alarm clock or a dedicated wake-up app to support the adjustment.
  • This component might be one of the harder ones to execute, depending on your current wake/sleep habits. But give it a try. For example, last say that prior to deciding to incorporate a morning routine, you would normally wake up at 7:30 am to be at work by 9:00 am. You estimate that your new morning routine will add 25 minutes to your morning.  So figure on a new wake-up time of 7:00 am.  That means you should aim to be in bed (and not on social media or watching TV!) by 11:00 pm or 12:00 pm at the latest. If aiming to wake up earlier than you do now, shift your wake-up time by 15 minutes every few days until reaching the desired time. Of course, you can also go to bed earlier. Or do both.

Hydration and Nutrition:

  • What it Means: Prioritizing hydration and nutrition in the morning sets the foundation for sustained energy levels and overall well-being throughout the day.
  • Execution: Start the day with a glass of water to rehydrate the body after a night of sleep. Incorporate a balanced breakfast with a mix of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. Consider options like a nutritious smoothie, whole-grain toast with avocado, or a protein-rich bowl.

 

Drink a glass of water when you wake up.  What could be easier? But getting the breakfast right can be harder. Because our food habits are HARD to change. But try some of the options (look online) and find something that works. Again, don’t beat yourself up over this.  Find things that are easy and quick to make but satisfy you as well.

Exercise and Movement:

  • What it Means: Engaging in physical activity in the morning boosts energy, enhances mood, and promotes overall health.
  • Execution: Choose a form of exercise that suits personal preferences and fitness levels. This could include a 20-minute workout at home, a jog in the neighborhood, or a yoga session. The key is consistency; aim for at least 15-30 minutes of moderate exercise to elevate heart rate and circulation.

This one can be tough. Look, walking briskly for 10 min is better than nothing.  Again, don’t have an “all or nothing” attitude. If you don’t feel well, skip it. If it is too cold, dark, or wet outside to walk, stay inside and do a simple workout without weights or a dance session; there are tons of options to be found online. If introducing a new activity, start with a manageable duration and gradually increase as comfort and routine adherence improve.

Mindfulness or Meditation:

  • What it Means: Practicing mindfulness or meditation in the morning fosters mental clarity, reduces stress, and promotes a positive mindset.
  • Execution: Allocate 5-10 minutes for mindfulness or meditation. Use apps like “Headspace” or “Calm” for guided sessions. Focus on deep breathing, body scan, or visualization techniques. Create a dedicated space free from distractions to enhance the meditative experience.

If you are new to the idea of meditation or mindfulness, it will seem like a foreign language. An app can help you by guiding you through the steps. This does not have to take forever; 5 -10 minutes can work. I realize “create a dedicated space free from distractions” can be pretty much impossible in some households, but hopefully your early start time will give you a fighting chance.

Goal Setting and Prioritization:

  • What it Means: Setting clear goals and priorities in the morning provides direction for the day ahead and helps maintain focus on what truly matters.
  • Execution: Take 5-10 minutes to review or set daily goals. Use a journal or a productivity app to list tasks in order of importance. Break down larger goals into actionable steps. This process helps create a sense of purpose and accomplishment throughout the day.

Pro Tips

Start small, with only a couple manageable activities. Overloading the morning with too many tasks can be overwhelming. Gradually add more if the routine becomes a habit.

Incorporate your personal rituals within the morning routine. This could be enjoying a cup of your favorite coffee or tea or spending a few moments in nature. These rituals add a personalized touch, making the routine more enjoyable and sustainable.

Making gradual adjustments to your morning routine.  For example, maybe for your exercise you want to walk 15 min. Fine; but start with 5 or 10 if walking distances is new to you. That is better than trashing the whole thing forever because it wipes you out. Incremental change is better than no change.

Embrace flexibility in your morning routine. Life is dynamic, and routines should be adaptable. Allow room for spontaneity and adjustments based on daily priorities or unforeseen circumstances.

Recognize and celebrate small victories. Whether it’s consistently waking up at the desired time or incorporating a new habit, celebrating progress reinforces positive behavior and motivates continued commitment to the morning routine.

Your morning routine needs to fit your life.

For example, if you are a single person with a 9 to 5 job, your morning routine might be a quick home workout, a nutritious breakfast, and goal setting using a productivity app. This kind of routine will help you maintain focus and energy throughout a demanding workday.

If you are a parent or caregiver, it is important to incorporate  the self-care alongside family responsibilities. Remember:  you cannot serve from an empty vessel.

Getting enough sleep and activities like a short meditation or a morning walk can contribute to a balanced and fulfilling day.

If you are a freelancer or remote worker, you can leverage the absence of a strict office schedule to customize the order of your activities: maybe start the day with creative work, followed by exercise / meditation and then a leisurely breakfast.

That’s it.  Hopefully, you are encouraged to give a morning routine a try.

Let me know how your morning routine efforts shape up. What works for you?

I look forward to your comments.

Kathy

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