How I start my day has a huge impact on how it continues. Being intentional about how I spend my time first thing has a knock-on effect on how I feel for the rest of the day. Maybe this is the same for you? If so, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve found helpful for creating a morning routine that gets me started on the right track:
My morning routine starts the night before
I go to bed early. Not super early but “early” compared to the time I used to go to sleep. I work at home, don’t have any set hours, and don’t really “need” to get up by a certain time. Even so, I’ve created a set bed time for myself because I know that a good night’s sleep has the biggest positive impact on my morning routine.
Clarity on my “When Life Works List”
(Not sure what this is? Check out this podcast and download your free worksheet from the Becoming Who You Are Library). These are the activities that help us feel like the best version of ourselves. When we’re doing them on a regular basis, we can usually see a clear correlation between action and sense of well-being.
My non-negotiables include doing something creative every day, getting at least 7.5 hours sleep, journaling, meditating, and exercising. I know that when I do these things on a regular basis, I’m far better able to handle the high highs and low lows of life, and enjoy my day far more. As you’ll see, I’ve tailored my morning routine to include all these. Another non-negotiable is going outside, which I aim for in the afternoon (weather permitting).
Some days, it feels like everywhere I look someone is advertising or talking about meditation, and that’s because it works. I aim for 10 minutes every day but even two minutes of meditation (yes, just two), is better than nothing.
I heard about this idea from Dandapani’s interview on The Unmistakeable Creative. Start with one minute for one month, move to two minutes the next month, and continue building on your practice bit by bit. This isn’t about getting to the point where you can meditate for two hours straight ASAP. Instead, it’s about building a sustainable habit. I also enjoy using Headspace for guided meditations and series on different topics.
I’m a huge fan of The Artist’s Way and journaling in general (I’ve even written a book about it). One of the most important (and most challenging) parts of my morning routine is my Morning Pages: 3 A4 pages of stream-of-consciousness writing.
When I first started, it was taking longer than Julia Cameron’s suggested 30 minutes, mainly because I found it hard to focus. While I can bash out 750 words on a laptop in under 15 minutes, hand writing them was a lot slower. These days, I tend to do it on a laptop because it’s easier to store my entries digitally when I travel.
Journaling is a great way of getting everything out of my head and onto paper, plus it helps me plan for the day. If there was just one activity from this list that I recommend everyone try, it’s this.
Create something ASAP
As much as I might love watching back-to-back episodes of Castle or getting lost in a good book, I also know I need to balance creating with consuming to feel at peace with the world. At best, this involves writing or sharing something, but even doing a good workout (i.e. creating better health and fitness) counts. This isn’t something that will appear in everyone’s morning routine, but I feel incredible when I hit 9 or 10 am and already have something I can show for my morning.
Remember that it’s just a support (and don’t take it too seriously!)
This is a point that tends to get lost amidst many morning routine-related discussions. I’m committed to starting the day off right but I don’t take it so seriously that I lose sight of the rest of the day too.
Morning routines are a support for doing your best work and experiencing the best day possible but they’re not a substitute for actually doing the work and experiencing the day itself. However your morning begins, remember you always have another chance to start afresh.
What are your go-to suggestions for how to create a morning routine that will make your heart sing? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Image: David Mao