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HOW TO CREATE A MORNING ROUTINE THAT SETS YOU UP FOR THE DAY AHEAD
Who doesn’t love new beginnings?! The start of a new year, the first day of a vacation, the first page of a new notebook, yes even now, years after having left school, I still get a frisson of excitement at writing that first word on a fresh new notebook!!
Mornings are new beginnings, but somehow they don’t necessarily elicit the same happy feelings! Especially weekday mornings.
But what I’ve found over time is that creating a simple morning routine really helps me to get myself in the right frame of mind for the day ahead.
It’s the difference between me starting the day muddle-headed and unfocused or starting the day feeling good about myself and clear on what I want to get done.
In fact it’s been proven that having a simple morning routine can help ward off stress, something that is particularly important if you are busy juggling work with parenting and all the other stuff life throws at you.
I’d also say it’s particularly useful to have a good morning routine if you work from home. It’s so easy for the lines to get blurred between the various roles that you have and find that you’re in one big hot mess.
HOW TO CREATE A MORNING ROUTINE THAT WORKS FOR YOU
There are tonnes of ideas out there on what makes a good morning routine. Ultimately, a good morning routine is one that works for you. There’s no point trying to shoe-horn in stuff that you don’t really have time to do or interest in doing.
All that will happen is that you start strong, then tail off, feeling increasingly bad about yourself as you fail to keep up with the routine you’ve set yourself.
What you need to do is put together a simple routine that suits you, that lifts you up in the morning rather than weighing you down.
ROUTINES ARE A SERIES OF HABITS
Essentially, a routine is a series of habits. A habit is something that we cultivate or find ourselves doing on repeat. When we bundle a few of those habits together, we can create a routine.
Now clearly, some habits are good and some are less so. So you need to focus on putting together some good habits. Whilst at the same time stepping aside from any morning habits you have that don’t really benefit you or pull you down before your day has even started.
Take a look at this list of suggested morning habits and see which of them appeal to you or whether they spark ideas for other habits that you could start incorporating into your morning routine. Once you’ve been through the habits, move on to my tips on how to put your routine together.
15 SIMPLE MORNING HABITS TO FORM YOUR ROUTINE FROM
1. USE AN ALARM CLOCK
What I’m actually saying here, is don’t use your mobile phone for your morning alarm. Mobiles are best kept out of the bedroom for many reasons, not least because it’s so tempting to pick them up and start scrolling the moment you wake up.
So, invest in an alarm clock. I have always had radio alarm clocks, right back from when I was a child. I really like waking up to the sound of the radio, rather than an actual alarm.
2. GET UP WITHIN FIVE MINUTES OF YOUR ALARM GOING OFF
What’s that phrase? If you snooze you lose?! Yes, I know it isn’t referring to snoozing in bed after the alarm goes off. However, there has been plenty written about the benefits of a ‘rip the plaster off’ approach to getting out of bed over hitting the snooze button. And I can vouch for this fact. No matter how tired I feel in the morning, my day gets off to a better start if I jump straight out of bed. If I lie-in I find myself feeling more lethargic and it becomes increasingly difficult to get out of bed.
3. RECITE A SIMPLE LIFE-AFFIRMING AFFIRMATION
Now one of my pet hates is when someone tells me to think positively about something that I’m having an issue with. There can be so much attached to the power or positive thinking, but it can also leave you feeling like crap.
That said, a couple of months ago I started trying out reciting a simple life-affirming affirmation each morning. I wasn’t sure it would do any good, but I got the biggest and nicest surprise, because I found the difference it made to my mindset for the day to be immense. Yes that’s right, not just for the morning, but for the whole day.
The affirmation I use is “Today is going to be a great day”. It’s that simple and I must confess that I got if from the Tiny Habits book I mentioned above. It’s like it sets me in the right frame of mind to tackle the good and the bad in the day and to not give up on making the best of each day.
I started off by saying the affirmation as I got out of bed, quietly and to myself. But within days I decided that I wanted to look myself in the eye as I said it, so now I say it when I first look in the bathroom mirror in the morning. I have the affirmation written out on a sticky note, that is now somewhat tattier than when I wrote it out a couple of months ago, just as a visual prompt, but 99/100 I don’t need to be reminded, it’s become a very positive morning habit.
4. DRINK SOME WATER FIRST THING
We all lose water through respiration (breathing) and transpiration (sweating) overnight, so it’s really important to rehydrate first thing in the morning. It will help to rehydrate you and make you feel fresher and more alert.
I’ve got a reusable glass bottle that I fill with fresh water every evening and have on my bedside table overnight, so it’s there when I wake up in the morning.
5. DO SOME SIMPLE EXERCISE
A short morning workout is a great way to wake your body and mind up in the morning. Just 10 or 15 minutes is enough to make a difference. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just doing some simple stretches or some gentle cardio is a great way to limber up for the day ahead.
There are so many brilliant exercise routines on YouTube or on fitness apps that you can use to guide you. I am a huge fan of FitOn, which is a free fitness app with a whole tonne of video workouts.
6. CREATE A SKINCARE RITUAL
Don’t worry, I’m not going crazy. I know just how strong the time-constraints are when you’ve got kids to get to school or nursery or if you’re a mum of baby or toddler. So I’m not talking about spending 30 minutes on this. But it’s possible to create a five-minute beauty routine that leaves your skin feeling pampered, cared for and looking its best for the day ahead.
Essentially, you need to focus on cleansing, toning, serums/actives, moisturiser and finish off with sun protection. Create a little skincare station in your bathroom, with everything you need, so it’s ready and to hand when you scoot into the bathroom.
7. OPEN YOUR BEDROOM WINDOW
Your bedroom needs to breath in fresh air after a night with you breathing out damp CO2! And a breath of two of fresh air does wonders to wake up a tired mind and body.
8. AIR YOUR BED
There are some who say that it is important to make your bed first thing. I say DON’T do that!! What your bed needs first thing is a chance to air. After all you’ve been lying in it all night, sweating (gently perspiring!!), so it’s good to let all that moisture evaporate before you make the bed.
9. GET YOUR KIDS INVOLVED
If your kids are old enough, get them do their bit to help with the morning routine. It’s a good life lesson for them and it also feels nice to be pulling together as a family.
Breakfast is usually the easiest meal of the day to prepare, so perhaps they can get breakfast ready for everyone. Or maybe they can empty the dishwasher or simply set the table and help clear away afterwards?
10. DRINK GREEN TEA AND SAVE COFFEE FOR LATER
Coffee and mornings seemingly go so well together, but actually coffee isn’t really what our bodies need first thing in the morning. It’s to do with the fact that our cortisol levels peak during the early morning, usually around 8/9am. Cortisol is known as the ‘stress’ hormone and acts like a natural caffeine, so the last thing we need is a giant boost of caffeine.
By all means get that coffee brewing if you love the smell of coffee, but make yourself a lovely mug of green tea instead. Yes, green tea does contain caffeine, but much less than coffee and green tea is also packed with so many nutrients and antioxidants that benefit us.
Don’t worry, I’m just talking about holding off the coffee until you’ve been up for an hour or so! And hey, it’s nice to have something to look forward to!!
11. DON’T PICK UP YOUR MOBILE UNTIL AFTER YOU’VE HAD BREAKFAST
Mobile phones are amazing gadgets and bring many benefits. But they are also amazing time-sucks. Plus they hold lots of potential stressors, that our brains just don’t need first thing in the morning. Like emails from clients, news notifications, social media notifications, app notifications… notifications, notifications, notifications… you get the idea.
And once you pick up your mobile phone for the first time each day it’s hard to step away from it. Not to mention that if you pick it up first thing, it can derail your whole morning routine. So use the time first thing in the morning to be tech-free and set the tone for how you will behave with your mobile through the day.
If this sounds like a horror scenario to you, read my post on how to unplug from your mobile, before giving it a try.
12. PLAN YOUR DAY AHEAD
Take a few minutes to sit and think where your day needs to take you, what you need to achieve and get done. If you know where you want to end up at the end of the day, you can plan how you get there.
I use Trello for all my personal and work organisation, it’s an online project management tool and once you’ve mastered it, it is a really simple but powerful way to manage your daily life and keep yourself and your family organised. It allows you to create boards that you can add lists to and then add cards to the lists to organise and manage everything.
I tend to sit down for five minutes and scan through the todo list I have on my Trello board and move the things that I need to focus on from the Todo list to the Today list I’ve created.
If you’ve never used Trello before, you can grab my free guide to getting started using it. It’s the kind of online tool that looks so simple to start with that you could easily give up on it before you’ve found the sweet spot for using it. But if you take an hour to find your way around it, you end up with the best organisation system ever.
13. SET YOURSELF SOME GOALS
This is slightly separate from your todo list and involves setting yourself a few goals – no more than three is good – for you to achieve throughout the day. These are the things that will make you feel like you’ve really achieved something if you reach them.
Whilst it’s great to be able to tick off things from your todo list like collecting your dry-cleaning or taking the kids to the dentist, achieving a goal you’ve set for yourself is uplifting and spirit boosting.
One goal you could set yourself is to build some me-time into your day. Take a look at my guide to creating me time for yourself and my list of things to do when you get some me time to inspire yourself to take action!
14. WORK OUT WHAT’S FOR DINNER
Getting to the end of a long day, whether you’ve been working or parenting or both, and not knowing what’s for dinner can be stressful. So taking a moment first thing to decide on dinner, or better still, to take a look at your meal planner that you’ve set up, is a great way to minimise stress at the other end of the day.
I have a meal planning board set up on Trello that I update each week, grab my free guide to getting started on Trello to get your own started. Alternatively, you could try using a google sheet / excel document or just good old pen and paper.
If you’ve never tried meal planning before, take a look at my guide to getting started with meal planning.
15. GO FOR A WALK
Ideally somewhere where you can be close to nature, but of course this isn’t always possible. Perhaps you can start walking your kids to school or dropping them off, leaving the car by the school and walking to work? Or if you need to take a train to work, walk from the station to your office instead of taking a bus.
If you are walking alone, either soak up the sound of your own silence and use the time as a chance to let your mind wonder or take the chance to listen to a podcast, something inspirational or uplifting.
HOW TO PUT TOGETHER HABITS TO CREATE A MORNING ROUTINE THAT WORKS
1. START SMALL AND GO FOR THE WIN
I think the key to success is to start small and go for the win. What do I mean by this? Well, if you set yourself a small goal, you are going to find it so much easier to achieve it. And when you do, you will feel good about yourself. Which means you are much more likely to stick to it.
I first read about this theory in the book Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg and it changed my whole perspective life! Just think of all the new year’s resolutions you’ve made and then broken by the end of January, if not before. They’re often big changes that mean a lot to us, but aren’t easy to achieve. We start them with the force of willpower and new beginning behind us, but if we don’t find them easy to do and willpower subsides, the resolution evaporates.
So the trick is to start small and easy and then build from there. Of course, what’s easy for one person might be incredibly difficult for another. So, rather than tell you my morning routine I’m going to give you a big list of easy habits that you can choose from to start piecing together a morning routine that will work for you and help you jumpstart your day.
2. TEST YOUR ROUTINE OUT
Don’t expect to nail the perfect routine straight off. By allowing yourself room to manoeuvre, you are freeing yourself up to perfect a routine, rather than feeling like you’ve tried and failed. Go for what product creators call an MVP, a Minimum Viable Product. Get your routine up and running, then tweak it until you have the best routine for you.
3. USE REMINDERS
It can be hard to remember to do things that have yet to achieve habit status, so use reminders to help you along. Much as I love my tech, I prefer to use physical visual reminders for first thing in the morning, so this is the one time I go with a sticky note over a digital reminder.
For example, as mentioned earlier, I have a sticky note with my morning mantra written on it. I stick it to my bathroom basin every evening, so it’s there when I walk into the bathroom first thing in the morning. A couple of months in I don’t even need the sticky note, but I’m going to continue having it there until my morning mantra is 100% ingrained.
I do have reminders set up via Trello that ping me to check my todo list and to share the details of the evening meal plan with me. Download my free guide to Trello if you want to start using this brilliant project management app to help you stay on track.
4. TUNE IN TO HOW YOUR MORNING ROUTINE MAKES YOU FEEL
How you feel first thing in the morning plays a bit role in how you will feel throughout your day. So take notice of how the routine you’re trying makes you feel. Does it make you feel energised? Does it give you chance to focus your mind? Does it cause you any stress, does it make you feel exhausted before the rest of your day begins?
Clearly if the feelings invokes are good, then you can stick with it and even look at how you add to it. But if you find yourself feeling less than good, you need to look at revising your routine, maybe stripping it back to have less in it.
5. A GREAT MORNING ROUTINE STARTS THE NIGHT BEFORE!
Sorry to hit you with this piece of news at the very end, but it’s true! As with many good things in life, preparation is everything. Things you can do to help prepare for a great morning include ditching your tech at least an hour before bed, the only caveat being that a paperwhite Kindle is allowed, as it doesn’t have that awful blue light that stimulates your brain and you can focus on reading an actual book rather than endlessly scrolling.
Other things include making sure you have a consistent bedtime, because this helps set your bodyclock and making sure your bedroom is really comfortable and geared towards you getting a great night’s sleep.
Want to know more about how to set up a great bedtime routine? Well, you’re in luck, as I’ve put together a post with some easy to follow tips.
I really hope that you’ve found this guide to creating a morning routine that works for you useful. HOW TO CREATE A MORNING ROUTINE, easy morning habits, how to create a morning routine, woman waking up in morning in bed.