Create a Morning Routine That Works for You

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It’s 7:25 a.m. I literally roll out of bed and into my “office” chair, log into my work computer and get ready to start the day’s work at 7:30 a.m.

Ah! The joys of working from home (honestly, it’s not all fun and games, I talk about that here). All I have to do now is give my employer 8 hours of my time and then I’m free to do whatever I want.

Problem was, by the time I had given those eight hours, I had no desire to do whatever I wanted. As a software developer, I spend all day working with my brain and depending on how the day went, some days by 5 p.m. all I wanted to do was go straight to bed.

With my brain totally fried, I wouldn’t even have the energy to do something as mindless as watch T.V. Going to bed, however, was hardly ever an option. I still had family and often ministry responsibilities to attend to I just wanted to head straight to bed. Granted, there was often (read never) no time or energy left for the things I really wanted to do.

So, when I started blogging, I wanted to give it my best shot. Blogging was something that the Lord had placed on my heart for a while and I knew that there were things He had shared with me that He wanted the world to know.

But I also knew that blogging could easily end up on that ever-growing pile of things I wanted to do when I “had the time”. Things it seemed, that I could never actually find the time to do. Admittedly, there are things that have been on that pile for years that I haven’t found the time for as yet.

I was determined to do something different this time around. If I was going to be successful in this course then I had to MAKE the time.

If this was going to work, I would have to get it done first thing in the morning. Which meant I’d likely have to sacrifice sleep. Yes, I would have to sacrifice sleep.

That’s when I decided that there would be no more rolling out of bed just in time to start work. Instead, I would get up at 3 a.m. The plan was to dedicate the first hour of my day to devotion time with God and then spend the next two hours working on things related to the blogging course.

After that, I’d hit the gym for an hour or so and then return home to start work for the day.

Easier said than done. Admittedly it was a struggle at first and I did fall off the wagon a few times (Christmas, I’m looking at you) but a year later I can say that I’ve successfully developed an early morning routine that works for me. At the moment, my morning routine looks like this:

  • 3 a.m – Wake up, drink a glass of water, put on the kettle, go to the bathroom
  • 3:15 a.m – Make coffee, do devotion, journal
  • 4:15 a.m. – Make breakfast, change into gym clothes
  • 4:30 a.m. – Review my to-do list.
  • 4:45 a.m. – Write
  • 6:30 a.m. – Go to the gym
  • 8:00 a.m – Start work for the day

I try to stick to my morning routine on weekends as well but I usually wake up a little later at 5 a.m. (it feels great to sleep in lol). If I sleep past 6 a.m. I feel like the best part of my day has been wasted.

But granted, not everyone is a morning person like I am so your “morning” routine may look completely different to mine.

It doesn’t matter what it looks like so much that you HAVE some sort of routine to help you focus on the daily tasks ahead.

Why? Because your morning routine sets the tone of your day.

It increases the chances that you’ll get those daily action steps that you need to make towards your goals done before anything else can get in the way.

If you don’t yet have a morning routine or would like to revise the one you have, here are a few tips to help you create a daily “morning” routine that works for you.

START WITH AN EVENING ROUTINE

This may or may not surprise you but your morning routine ideally begins the night before. Ten to fifteen minutes spent preparing for the next day can set up your morning for optimal performance.

Here are a few things you can do in the evening to help with your morning routine.

  • Set priorities and create your to-do list for the next day.
  • Reflect on the past day. Take note of the lessons you’ve learned, mistakes you made and how you’re going to move forward.
  • Pack your lunch for the next day or set out the next day’s outfit. Heading to the gym in the morning? Set out your gym clothes (or sleep in them as some suggest).
  • Disconnect from all devices at least 30 minutes before you go to bed. I like to read before bed so I make an exception for my iPad (all of my books are bought on Kindle these days). I use NightShift but this article suggests that it could still keep you awake. I fall asleep after half an hour of reading so I don’t seem to have a problem with this. You’ll need to decide for yourself though.
  • Wind down. I do this using the bedtime feature on my Apple devices. It’s set for 9 p.m with a reminder set for 8:30 p.m. My real bedtime is 9:30 but this gives me an hour to wrap up and wind down. And yes, I need an entire hour because I need to leave room to help my son with that thing for school the next day. You know, the one he forgot to tell me about.
  • Get enough rest. Being in bed by 9:30 ensures that I get enough rest so that I can wake up at 3 without a struggle. Even if I don’t fall asleep right away I always feel better rested in the morning.

DON’T FORCE IT

If you’re not a “morning” person, I wouldn’t suggest that you suddenly start getting up at 3 a.m. like I do but there are two opinions on this.

The first suggests declaring that you are not a morning person is a limiting belief. According to 2knowmyself.com a limiting belief is “a false belief that a person acquires as a result of making an incorrect conclusion about something in life”.

In other words, you may not be a morning person simply because you believe that you’re not a morning person.

On the other hand, there are those who believe that we all have a natural rhythm that we adhere to and some of us simply function better at night.

There are quite a few successful people who are not “morning people”. Like Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti and Winston Churchill among others highlighted in this article.

Morning person or not, everyone can benefit from some sort of routine that gets their day started. Start your routine when you have the most energy and are most productive. That just happens to be mornings for me.

Find your optimal time of the day and make the most of it, whatever works for you.

DO WHAT’S IMPORTANT FIRST

“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – attributed to Mark Twain

That quote basically means that if you do the hardest thing you need to do first thing in the morning, nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day. Author Brian Tracy wrote an entire book based on this premise.

Tackle your most important task first when your energy and focus is at it’s highest. Check your to-do list (you know, the one you made during your evening routine) and determine what’s the one thing you need to get done to make your day successful. Then, tackle that first.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

If this is the first time you’re trying to set a morning routine you might want to keep it simple.

I wanted to get back on track with my devotion time with God by adding it to my new morning routine. But I didn’t want to overwhelm myself by trying to do too much at once as I often tend to do. I wanted to keep it simple.

The Hello Mornings book came recommended in one of the Facebook groups I’m in and I decided to check it out.

The basic premise of the book is God, Plan, Move. Before you do anything else for the day, spend time with God, plan your day (ideally based on what He revealed to you) and do something healthy.

They don’t necessarily have to be in that order but the idea is to get those three things in first before you move on to the rest of your day.

The basic 3-minute plan for God, Plan, Move looks like this:

  • God – read Psalm 143:8 (1 min)
  • Plan – write your to-do list for the day (1 min)
  • Move – drink a glass of water or do something healthy (1 min)

The book doesn’t suggest that a 3-minute morning plan is what you’ll need for the rest of your life, but that it’s a great way to start simple.

When you’re ready to expand your devotion time, the author also provides various Bible studies on her website along with Facebook groups that you can join to do a group Bible study.

I did this simple plan for about a week until I began to get accustomed to waking up at 3 a.m. then I moved on to a more in-depth devotion.

REVISE WHEN NECESSARY

Remember that your morning routine has to work for you. While I try to follow my morning routine 90% of the time, there are days when it just doesn’t work.

Sometimes, for reasons beyond my control, I may go to bed way too late to get up at 3 a.m. or I may have something to do in the morning that prevents me from sticking to my routine but I do my best not to allow this to happen too often.

Give yourself a break at holiday times like Christmas. Last Christmas, I had a plan for my annual two-week vacation. It involved me doing trial runs of my ideal day so that I would know what it felt like when that day came and I didn’t have to do the nine to five anymore.

Well… it never happened! In fact, my morning routine went completely AWOL. It ran amok until sometime at the end of January when I caught up with it! But guess what? I didn’t give up, I got back in there and now I’m back on track.

So, if you fall off the wagon, don’t worry about it. Don’t worry if you miss a day or two (or a few weeks :/). Things will happen. Children get sick, you enter a new season of your life or you go on vacation and just spaz out for the entire time. Don’t despair, and don’t give up. Just get back into your routine as soon as you can.

So what will your new morning routine look like? I’d love to know. Share it with me in the comments.

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