Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, everyone needs a morning routine.
I’m personally a night owl. In fact, I am writing this post at 1:00 a.m. Sounds crazy, right? But it’s my natural circadian rhythm. In fact, I’ve been this way as long as I can remember, and staying on a “regular” schedule is hard for me because my body just doesn’t naturally have the same schedule as the majority of people.
So, while you may assume that a morning routine works best for people who wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, please know that it’s also helpful for those of us who are bleary-eyed and whatever the opposite of “bushy-tailed” is.
Creating a morning routine isn’t difficult, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. That’s why I’ve created this guide to help.
1. Stick to just a few tasks at first.
You don’t want to overload your morning routine with too many tasks at once. In fact, I recommend starting with just three tasks and working your way up from there. Once you get the hang of things, you can always add more ideas later.
2. Your morning routine should be flexible.
You may need to change your routine from time to time, and that’s perfectly okay. In fact, you should expect it.
I tweak my daily routines about every two weeks. I usually only make small changes, but they can make a big difference overall.
As an example, I enjoy spending time on my devotional each day. When I first set up my routines, I put both “devotional” and “prayer” on my morning list. While I almost always managed to spend time on my devotional, I found it hard to concentrate on prayer first thing in the morning. Instead, I would normally pray just before bed each evening, which felt much more natural to me. So I changed it.
3. Don’t kick yourself if you miss a task.
When you’re creating a new habit, consistency is key. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that it only takes 21 days to form a habit. While that may be true for some people, I believe some habits take longer than others to develop. I also think the amount of days spent on a habit varies from one person to the next.
That being said, please don’t kick yourself if you miss a task. That’s the quickest way to set yourself up for failure. If you miss a day, just start again the next day. Eventually, the tasks will become second nature, and you will find yourself with a routine that requires almost no self-discipline at all.
4. Schedule a little quiet time in the morning.
While most people may suggest waking up an hour early to exercise or have quiet time, I know all too well that sometimes that’s just not possible.
I’ve been the parent of a newborn baby, and I know that the idea of waking up an hour earlier can literally make you feel sick to your stomach. Some of our kids have also insisted on waking up at 6 a.m., even on weekends, so I’m not daring to suggest that you wake up an hour before your kids to get a jumpstart on the day. My old work schedule started at 7 a.m. with a one hour commute. There’s no way in the world I could have gotten up an hour earlier to fit in a round of Pilates. My day already started at 5:00 a.m. and ended at midnight. Four hours of sleep isn’t good for anyone, no matter how much exercise you get in the morning.
Even ESPECIALLY With Kids, You Should Make Time for Yourself
HOWEVER (and this is a big “however,” which is why it’s in all caps), I do believe you need a little bit of time to yourself in the morning. It may be only five minutes, but it’s really important that you have a few moments to clear your head and prepare yourself mentally for the day.
If you’re thinking, “How do you propose I do that when I have all the newborns and kids and commutes you mentioned earlier?”
Unfortunately, you may have to get creative. If you have a newborn, you’re in luck because that early morning feeding is the perfect time to sit back, relax, and spend a few moments focusing on your blessings.
If you have a long commute, turn off the annoying early morning radio show and spend a little time in quiet reflection.
Have little ones who will seek you out wherever you go? Make a rule that they must stay in bed until you come get them in the morning. Chances are they may need a few moments to “wake up” in the morning, too. (I always gave my kids the option to read or draw in bed as long as they sat quietly until it was time to get up.)
5. Don’t base your morning routine on someone else’s life.
If you search hard enough, you’ll find a ton of morning routines online. The problem is that these routines were created by other people, so they may not fit your needs.
While I think it’s great to read these routines to help you develop your own, please don’t just copy someone else’s morning routine and expect it to work for you. Your life is unique, so your routine should also be unique.
Morning Routine Ideas
While I absolutely believe you should create your own morning routine, I realize that you may have trouble getting started. So here are a few tasks that may be helpful to you in the morning:
- Drink a cup of coffee or tea (I recommend setting up your coffee pot the night before.)
- Eat breakfast.
- Spend time with God.
- Listen to music.
- Straighten a room.
- Unload the dishwasher.
- Start a load of laundry.
- Drink a glass of water.
- Get some fresh air.
- Make a “to do” list for the day.
- Make dinner plans (set up slow cooker, etc.)
- Get ready for your day (If you work from home or are a stay at home parent, don’t skip this one! No one feels productive or motivated when they wear pajamas all day.)
- Water your plants.
- Feed your pets.
- Walk your dog.
- Catch up on the news.
- Listen to a podcast or audiobook (You can do this while you do something else. Multitasking!)
- Practice a foreign language (Duolingo is my favorite app for this.)
- Write down your dreams from the night before.
- Clear your email.
- Make your bed.
- Let the sunshine indoors. (Open windows and/or doors if the weather is nice.)
- Show affection to your spouse or children. (A hug and a kiss go a long way to making someone’s day a little better.)
My Morning Routine
Like I said earlier, my morning routine changes regularly. But this is my current routine.
- Make my bed.
- Take morning medication with water.
- Drink a cup of coffee.
- Spend time on devotional.
- Let my dogs outside for a potty break.
- Start a load of laundry.
- Unload the dishwasher.
- Get dressed.
- Give my husband and babies a goodbye hug.
I’m self-employed, so I have plenty of time to finish my routine each morning. My goal is to complete it before 10 a.m. If you work outside the home, your routine may start at home and finish at the office.
Why should you bother with a morning routine?
A morning routine has several benefits.
- For one, it helps you start your day on the right foot. No one likes waking up to a shrill alarm that’s been snoozed five times with just 20 minutes to get everyone out the door. Unfortunately, that’s often how life works when you don’t have a routine.
- Psychologists have proven time and again that routines are good for us – yes, even if you’re not typically a “planner” type of person.
- Children especially need routines, but even adults can reap the benefits.
- Routines help cultivate self-discipline and increase your productivity. They’re also a great way to focus your attention on the things that truly matter each day.
- Finally, I’ve personally found that routines make me more likely to enjoy my mornings. There’s just something comforting about knowing what to expect and having time set aside for what’s really important in life.
- I can tell my kids love it, too. My one-year-old son starts each morning the same exact way: He gets a hug and a diaper change, then toddles his way down the hall to his high chair because he knows that breakfast is on the way. It’s his routine, and it makes him happy. And, in the end, that’s what we all want, right?
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If you already have a routine, please share in the comments below! You can also read my blog for more productivity posts.