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Everyone has a morning routine.
If you consistently get out of bed and out the door (or upright and functional if you work from home) every day, you have a morning routine.
It might be ugly but you have a routine.
Get up, go to the bathroom, put clothes on, eat something, find keys, and drive away.
But here’s the thing. A routine is pretty much a habit with parts.
And there are good habits and bad habits.
The problem with having a bad routine.
When your morning routine only focuses on getting you out the door as soon as possible, it’s predictable that you’ll use the least amount of time to get it done.
Why get up an hour before you have to leave home when you can get everything that matters done in under 10 minutes?
So you get up at ten to 7, put a poptart in the toaster, run to the bathroom, throw on something from the bottom of your closet, grab the poptart and your makeup bag (you can do it on the way to work) and jump in the car.
It’s not till you’re stuck in traffic that you have time to look down and realize that there’s a food splotch on the front of your blouse. Was it yesterday’s poptart?
What else could go wrong?
You remembered the makeup bag, but you didn’t wash and moisturize your face. Your crusted eyes stare back at you from the mirror and you decide that putting on makeup will have to wait for when you get to the office.
Someone ahead has an accident and traffic is backed up for miles. You can’t get off till your exit and there’s no movement at all. You get more and more frustrated as you watch the time tick by. You’re going to be late for work (again) and there’s nothing you can do about it.
When you finally arrive, you brag a zippered hoodie from the back seat to hide your stained clothes and run in. Your boss looks unhappy and calls you over to tell you that an important client is waiting in your office and to get in there now and go over the report you wrote for him.
No makeup, stressed and dressed like your teenaged son, you meet the client.
And realize that you left his report sitting on your coffee table at home with some important final edits.
You wing it but it does not go well.
Later, after your boss lets you know what he thinks about your performance today, you have a good cry in the bathroom.
Ok, it’s not good. It’s an ugly cry and they can hear it in the office.
You wash your face (finally), put on your makeup and do the walk of shame back to your desk.
And snap at the next person to cross your path.
Is this really how you want your day to go?
The benefits of having a good morning routine.
When you’re intentional about creating a morning routine, you’ll be far less likely to have a day like that poor unfortunate woman.
(Who may, or may not, be you right now.)
A good morning routine will nurture all the aspects of your life that help you go, prepared and confident, into your day.
You’ll be organized and armed with a positive mindset to fuel a productive day.
Your routine will address your emotional needs, not just your daily organization.
Although there’ll always be bumps along the way, you’ll know are more than capable of handling problems without having them ruin your day or anyone else’s.
Sound like a better way to start your day?
What are the important elements of a good morning routine?
Your morning routine:
1. should be customized to your needs.
It’s important to understand that morning routines are as individual as the person who creates them. What works for one person might be lacking some critical element for you. So take each of these as suggestions and adapt them to your own needs.
2. is not set in stone.
You’re an active, healthy woman who deals with change and is pursuing big dreams. Your morning routine shouldn’t be static. It can change over time or depend on the day of the week. It doesn’t make much sense to get ready for work in the morning on the weekend, does it?
3. needs to address the basics of getting out the door.
That includes breakfast, clothing, and grooming – before you leave the house. It also includes the basics needed by other members of your family. Do you have to feed the dog? Do children need to be ready to go to school or the sitter?
4. also needs to address the things that will anchor our day’s activities.
Did you bring work home? Are there errands you need to run on your way to the office?
5. should give you time to focus on yourself.
Whether that’s a half-hour yoga practice, reading a chapter of a good book, journaling, or doing something else that feeds your soul, it’s important to make time for you.
6. needs to rely on an equally well-planned evening routine.
If your mornings are going to be a stress-free introduction to a positive and productive day, you need to have an evening routine to handle and remove all thought and stress from the morning. A good evening routine makes mornings much easier.
7. relies on your getting up early.
I know. This is the one most of us don’t like to think about. But you’ve already imagined the 10-minute scenario. That’s just not going to work. You want to get up and glide through your routine, secure in knowing that everything is taken care of and that you’ll arrive at work put together, physically and emotionally. When you design your morning routine, you’ll calculate exactly how much time every routine will take you and get up accordingly.
8. can’t be too much.
Overloading your routine at home will only leave you stressed. That’s the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. If you have a ton of energy in the morning and go for a run, make breakfast for the family, write a work proposal, do a kickboxing workout in the basement, followed by a half hour of yoga, write a chapter of your new book, call all your elderly relatives because they wake up early, and still squeeze in a full-blown meditation session before leaving for work … that’s awesome. I’m pretty sure I gave birth to you but you didn’t get it from me. For most of us, a morning routine needs to be simpler and easy to do every day.
How to design your morning routine.
Grab a sheet of paper. You’re not going to get this through osmosis. And yes, there’ll be homework.
1. Make a list of all the things that have to happen for you to be ready for your day.
Get up when your alarm clock goes off and do not hit the snooze button?
Bet you thought I’d say having your clothes ready, your lunch packed, dinner prepped for the crockpot and your briefcase packed, didn’t you? But those are actually all evening routine activities. Your morning should rely on your having already done all those things.
2. Make a list of all the small things you love doing (or would like to try) but find hard to fit into your day.
Go nuts on this one. You don’t have to do them all but you want a variety to choose from. It could be enjoying a scented candle and reading in a quiet house while everyone else is still asleep, a long soaking bath before getting dressed, a brisk walk while listening to your favorite show tunes, your favorite hidden-behind-the-Folgers-can Hawaiian coffee with real cream and sugar. And that’s just a start. What would you love to do in the morning?
3. What new habits would you like to start your morning with?
Do you want to experiment with smoothie recipes? Or avocado toast? Have you been wanting to try an online yoga class? Do you want to start a journal? This is your chance to go wild. Everyone else is still going to be asleep!
4. Calculate how much time you need for each of those activities.
The have-tos and the want-tos. How long does it take for you to get dressed and made up? How about preparing breakfast and cleaning up? You’re not making decisions based on time. Yet. But for now, you want to be clear about how much time you need for each activity.
5. Decision time.
- The have-tos take priority. You are never going to leave the house without being prepared and put together again. How long will it take you to do morning right?
- Now you also want to add some self-care in there. Some regular activities that will make you feel like it was worth getting up.
- Remember, your routine is not forever. It’s ok to choose the things that appeal the most to you right now and switch some things out later. You might even be guided by how early you’ll have to get up to get those activities in. Choose the things that make you feel happy.
- Write down your morning routine on an index card or cards. You might want to have one on your bathroom mirror, listing the things you need to do before leaving your bedroom. Another can stay in the kitchen to look at while you’re having breakfast. Until your morning actions actually become a routine that you’re used to, writing them down can help keep you on track.
- In the morning, serenity should be your theme. Getting things ready is for the evening. You can see what that looks like in 16 Evening Routines That Will Make You More Productive.
- How early do you have to get up to do the most important things in your morning routine? Without rushing or feeling stressed about doing too much? Set your alarm clock for that time.
- Do the have-tos first. If your timing is off and you’re not able to read as long, journal as long or exercise as long, your day won’t be as affected as much as our bad routine example.
- When you leave your house, take the mindset you created with you. Listen to music or to podcasts on the way to work.
- If you hit traffic and know you’ll be late, call and let the office know and let it go. Everyone has to deal with accidents, traffic snafus, and car trouble. What matters is that you will walk into your office calm and relaxed, with everything you need for a great day.
With good evening and morning routines, you’ll never have that work walk of shame again. You’ll be prepared, energized, and confident that you can handle whatever the day throws at you.
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