I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about morning routines: from the CEO who runs 10 km at 5 AM to celebrities who swear by cold showers.
What do all these routines have in common?
They work well for that person, but they might not work for everyone else.
The truth is, you don’t have to wake up at 5 AM. You don’t have to work out first thing in the morning or shiver under a cold shower.
That hasn’t worked for me, and it may not work for you, either.
Creating a morning routine that works for you is a matter of trial and error, but you can save time by answering a few simple questions.
What does an average day look like to you?
Let’s start by creating a better picture of your day.
To do this, make a list of all the things you do in a week. Include everyday tasks like work, cooking, and exercising, to those you do once or twice a week, like doing laundry or grocery shopping.
When you put all your tasks on paper, it’s easier to get a quick but comprehensive view of what you need to get done. In turn, it’ll help you see what you need from your morning routine.
For example, if you’re physically active throughout the day, make a healthy breakfast and light exercise an essential part of your routine. Or, if you spend most of your day sitting on a desk, intensive workouts and meditation will keep you energized and productive.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Believe it or not, your genes may be playing a big part in your sleep cycle and preferences.
In the end, good sleep is the foundation of a productive day. Waking up early doesn’t matter as much as getting enough sleep and waking up at the right time for you.
So, if you’re a night owl but try to wake up at 5 AM every day, you’ll find you wake up groggy and tired. That, in turn, makes it less likely for you to stick with your plans for the morning.
If you don’t have a reason that forces you to wake up at an hour that’s not natural for your body, consider working with what you have, set up a waking up time that suits your lifestyle, and use your energy on creating healthy sleep habits.
When do you feel your most energized and productive?
So, with such a small window of productivity, we do need to make the most out of it.
Think about how you feel in the morning and what your energy levels are. Do you wake up well-rested and ready for the day? Does it take you a long time to shake off the grogginess?
If you get out of bed invigorated and ready for the day, think of what could help you maintain those high energy levels throughout the day. It could be light exercise, like yoga or going for a walk, a healthy breakfast, or meditation.
Alternatively, if it takes you a long time to feel alert and awake in the morning, ditch coffee and go for green tea instead. A cup of green tea has a lot less caffeine than a cup of coffee and contains L-theanine, an amino acid that combines with caffeine to boost your alertness and focus.
What are your goals?
Before you start planning your morning routine, consider what your short- and long-term goals are. They will determine what you need to get out of the first few hours of the day.
For example, if you have a deadline coming up, meditation or journaling may help keep you relaxed and focused on your tasks.
To keep your eyes on the prize, starting a journal can help you keep them in mind and motivate you to continue working on them. Start a gratitude journal to help you remember the good things in life or morning pages to clear your head.
Or, if you have a big, scary assignment you’ve been putting off for some time, consider getting it done first. Delaying essential tasks will not only set you back on your goals but will also make you feel guilty and unproductive. For example, I’ve made it a goal not to check social media before 1 PM. First of all, it’s easy to spend a lot more time than planned scrolling through feeds, and the content may put me in the wrong mood for the day.
So, getting priority tasks done first will clear up the rest of the day for less demanding projects.
With all that information, you have what you need to come up with the morning routine that works best for you.
For example, my morning routine as a freelancer looks like this.
- The night before, I write down my schedule for the following day, and usually, I go to bed at about 11 PM.
- Wake up at 6 AM.
- Stretch, drink water.
- Write fiction for 1 hour
- Write or edit my blog post for 1 hour.
To me, writing is the most important tasks of my day, so I’ve added it to my morning routine to get it done even before I start doing client work. I hardly ever write at night when I’m tired and watching Netflix is more appealing.
But let’s see how the rest of my morning goes:
- Breakfast. Wait, I work before having breakfast? Yes, for a couple of reasons. First, I’m often not hungry right after getting out of bed. Also, I’ve noticed that getting out of bed gives me some momentum I can use to get some writing done. Making breakfast right after getting out of bed wastes that momentum.
- Start working on client projects. Now that I’ve spent some time working on my projects, I can concentrate on client work for the rest of the day.
I don’t work out early in the morning, as I’m often too groggy to make the most out of my workout routine. I prefer going to the gym right before lunch or going to yoga or for a run after work.
As you can see, I’ve adapted my morning routine to my needs and priorities, even though it doesn’t look like other routines you’ve seen online.
If done right, your morning routine will keep you healthy, happy, and productive. By answering a few simple questions, you can start creating a morning routine that suits your lifestyle, goals, and preferences.
Do you have more tips about creating the perfect morning routine? Let me know in the comments below!