We all know how vital our morning routine is, but (ugh!) how do we commit to one? Do you find yourself feeling regretful when the day rolls on, and you realize at noon that you didn’t do those things that you know are so good for you?
I’ve been adjusting my early morning routine for the past year or so. For around 20 years prior, I worked full-time, and in some ways, my morning routine was predictable and disciplined. However, now that I’m not working out of the house, my routine can get off track quickly! And, unfortunately, I feel the effect of that all day.
I wanted to put some ideas that combine research I’ve done mixed with things I’ve learned over time by trial and error.
I hope some of my tips help you to craft your own ideal morning routine. Let’s get started!
1. Try practicing gratitude before getting out of bed.
I always leave my gratitude journal and one of my spiritual card decks on my nightstand. This way – first thing in the morning, I remember what to do right away. First, I think about a few things I’m grateful for (or write them down). Next, I pick a card (right now, I’m using cards from Michael Singer’s Untethered Soul card deck). Seeing the journal puts me in a positive productivity mindset.
*Side note – this part of my morning routine reminds me of that Drew Barrymore movie 50 First Dates. I love that movie! If you haven’t seen it, it’s about a young woman with a rare form of amnesia. Every day she wakes up with no memory of anything about her life. Her partner discovers a way to keep her content. He creates a video that reintroduces her to her life: how she met him, her children, etc. She watches the video from her bed before she starts her day every morning.
It’s pretty much the same thing for us. First, we begin every day with a clean slate. Then, starting with gratitude and positive visualizations (in the form of a vision board or just envisioning the unfolding of a happy, positive day) lays the foundation for a great day ahead.
2. Exercise is a key part of a balanced early morning routine.
Studies show over and over that the most productive people get up and work out first thing in the morning – no excuses! But, how do they do that?
I have to say I’m not great at this – but I am committed to getting better after publishing this story. I want to get this habit locked down!
Here are some ideas to support you in this effort:
Helpful tip from self.com: Setting your workout clothes out next to your bed is a great way to streamline your morning, and it serves as a visual reminder to get up and to move.
Another helpful tip from self.com: Preprogram your coffee maker the night before. Make sure it starts brewing just before your alarm goes off. Smelling the aroma is key!
So, now that you’re up, dressed, and have had your coffee – the next step is to choose your exercise.
I know there are a million options. But to share what happens in my house, if you’re into a form of cruel punishment (Lol!), join me in doing Insanity from Beachbody (crazy and not sure I fully recommend – but I do love the cardio). My husband either works with a trainer or does a peloton class at home (which he loves).
After it’s over and you feel that wave of satisfaction that you’ve started the day off right, think of these additional benefits: you will have more energy, burn more fat throughout the day, sleep better, and will overall be happier.
Now, onto the next thing:
3. Meditate to bring a sense of calm and awareness into your early morning routine.
According to Karson McGinley at chopra.com, “The peaceful calm and stillness at that time are unlike any other. And although to many people 5 a.m. seems like the middle of the night, being awake as the sun rises actually aligns you with nature and builds your energy reserves.”
Early morning meditation is the best part of the day. Do you meditate or exercise first? I flip back and forth.
Building energy reserves along with the sun rising sounds good to me!
What are additional benefits besides sourcing energy?
“A morning meditation will set the tone for your entire day and help you to be focused content, and optimistic,” according to onemedical.com. Setting the tone is so important. We all deserve this.
Special note about Light Watkins:
I went to an event called Attune in Serenbe, Georgia, in the fall of 2019. While there, I attended a meditation workshop with author/instructor Light Watkins. The meditation he led, along with his word choices and guidance, helped me to go deeper into meditation than I had before.
Watkins says, “Meditating helps filter out the internal and external ‘noise’ and negative self-talk that can sabotage our otherwise sharp, clear perceptual acuity.”
Allowing ourselves this time to step back into a place of awareness can help us to remain open to observing our thoughts and feelings without getting overly caught up in them. This can help us in all areas of our day.
4. Journaling is a foundational part of a positive early morning routine.
I’m playing with bullet journaling right now. Have you tried it before? It’s fascinating. You document thoughts, ideas, and tasks as you move throughout your day. Later they are crossed off or migrated to a different place in your journal for future tracking.
I like that it works almost like a stream of consciousness because I frequently add to it all the things happening in my mind. So I’m hoping to share my thoughts on my “experiment” in the next month or so.
Taking a moment to jot down goals for the day or focusing on habit tracking is super helpful. You can jot down books you’d like to read, podcasts you’d like to listen to. It’s all in one place, which makes it easy and simple.
5. Spend 10-20 minutes learning something inspiring and new.
What are you interested in learning about right now? While you’re getting ready in the morning, listen to an audiobook or podcast. Or, if you have time, sit and read a book that inspires you.
Do you enjoy reading? I usually try to have two books going at the same time. One is often a self-help book, and the other is a fiction novel. When I was commuting, I enjoyed reading from a self-help book in the morning, and then on the way home on the train, I would read something light and entertaining (see a list of my favorite self-help books here).
Additional tip: It’s easy to multitask with this step. Often it’s hard to find the time for all of these things in the morning, especially if you’re trying to wrangle the kids and get out the door! Having a flexible mindset and adding in the reading at lunch or listen to the podcast on the train is a great backup plan.
You can make this part of your morning routine feel like a gift to yourself – something to anticipate with joy!
More notes on Robin Sharma and the 5 am Club:
I enjoyed this book and highly recommended it if you’re in the market for helpful tips on improving your productivity.
I’ve listed my five most important components of my early morning routine, but Sharma breaks them down differently: (taken directly from the 5 am Club)
He suggests spending 20 minutes exercising, 20 minutes reflecting (includes journaling, meditation, planning, prayer, contemplation), and 20 minutes “growing” (includes reviewing goals, reading books, listening to audiobooks or podcasts, or studying online).
Additional thoughts and strategies:
Morning pages are another great tool to keep in your arsenal for when you want to feel more open and accessible or maybe need to work through some frustrations you’re experiencing.
Having self-compassion and a flexible mindset are essential. For 15 years, I was a hustling, full-time working single mom. So I know how it feels not to check all the boxes as I left the house to begin yet another busy, hectic day.
Therefore, besides the scientifically-backed strategies and tips I added from the sources above, the most important thing to feel in the morning is that joyfully anticipate having a positive, happy, and productive day!
Being kind to yourself in the morning and saying, “I’m worthy of feeling so happy today. I’m doing my best.”
Affirming these loving words to yourself welcomes a sense of ease.
Think of your morning routine as part of a self-care tool kit and that you can be flexible. If you miss the workout, maybe you can take a walk at lunch or squeeze a quick workout in during the evening. The same goes for meditation.
Having a plan for an early morning routine is about having the goal of feeling great! So be flexible. You. Are. Amazing.
Ps: Don’t forget to lay out your workout gear and program your coffee maker before bed tonight! Also, set your journal and some inspirational art or words on your bedside table.
Think about what makes you happy, and bring that into your days whenever possible. I share some of my favorite happiness ideas here.
Also, would you like to feel more aligned? Learn about how spiritual alignment feels.
Please share this story with someone looking for a new morning routine!