The short answer to this is yes, a morning routine is essential to my ability to be productive each day. It’s not that I am any busier than anyone else, but I am a high performer. I enjoy having a lot to do and striving to do it well. This is something that used to make me feel constantly stressed and overwhelmed. However, since I implemented a morning routine more than two years ago, I look forward to the work I get to do (not have to do) each day. Through my nerdy tracking of time and tasks, I know that my morning routine is the key to getting more done each day.
So, I’m going to discuss my morning routine to help you be able to start or improve your own. I’m also going to share some morning routine tips, which might help you integrate some of these vital behaviors into your day with ease and excitement. As you may know, I coach hospitality business owners who are struggling to succeed (with success as a self-defined and relative term). One of the biggest barriers to finding success is a lack of systems and routines in place for their personal and professional lives. Enter a morning routine!
My Morning Routine
I typically wake up between 6 – 6:30 a.m. naturally, without an alarm clock, which I realize is a luxury. Then, I walk my dog before making coffee and returning back to bed to savor each sip and ease into the day. I watch no more than one hour of news, which helps me get both local and national news without stress. For the last half hour of news watching, I also open my laptop and triage my inboxes. I don’t work at this time, which is really important. I simply survey what’s happening so that I know what is going to need my attention when I sit down to get things done. It’s also during this time I create my to-do list (more on that later).
Then, I do some personal development reading for 30 minutes. It’s important that this reading is something that feeds my brain and stimulates me intellectually and NOT a novel. I love to read books about productivity, personal relationships, faith, and business. You can find some of my favorites on my resources page. When I take this time seriously, I ask better questions throughout the day, my brain is “awake” and “on” and I can solve problems faster. The days I skip this step drag on and I flounder between tasks and rarely finish things.
After I read, I try to work out. I’m not perfect and sometimes this doesn’t happen for a variety of reasons. This week, for instance, the weather is improving so I prefer to go running/walking in the afternoon when it’s warmer. That works because I look forward to doing it, schedule it into my day, and then I don’t skip it. When I put off working out in the morning in favor of getting to my “real work” faster, I feel sluggish and guilty and the task of working out lingers in the back of my mind throughout the entire day. So, I try to sweat as soon as possible each day. Lastly, I eat a quick breakfast and then head into my home office and get to work.
Morning Routine Tips for Success
Here are some important points about my morning routine and things I want you to know if you’re thinking about starting your own or adjusting what you currently do. The entire routine can take me a couple of hours, but that’s time I have to spend on myself, my mind, and my body. When I put myself first, I feel more energized to get my work done. I don’t resent my schedule, my tasks, or my overall profession. I operate with greater patience and purpose, and I do not feel stressed or like I don’t have enough time to get everything done.
You can easily implement a morning routine that takes 30-60 minutes and provides the same results. Read for 10 minutes, breathe/stretch/sweat for 20, and prep for the day, meditate, write, or relax for another 10-15. It really can be that quick and simple. If you haven’t sat down in a quiet room with your eyes closed for five minutes lately, then you probably don’t realize how long that feels and how those few minutes can provide hours’ worth of value to the rest of your day.
Another important point to remember is that you do not have to wake up early to have or begin a morning routine. Yes, you might have to wake up earlier to allow yourself time to do this, but that does not mean you need to be waking up at 3 a.m. like Dolly Parton! What is important is to put yourself first at the beginning of each day, regardless of when you actually rise. By feeding your own mind and body, you will be able to better serve others so be gentle with yourself. Waking up at 5 a.m. is not going to make you an overnight millionaire and waking up at 9 a.m. is not going to prevent you from finding success. It’s all about how you use your time.
The last key to helping you find greater productivity through a morning routine is preparing appropriately, and this might not be what you think. One of my biggest rules is: do NOT make your to-do list the night before. This will cause you to go to bed distracted and stressed, which will negatively affect the quality of your sleep and prevent you from being fully engaged with your routine, meaning you won’t reap the benefits. If you feel as though you have to make a to-do list to settle your thoughts then do it in the early evening and then do other things like enjoy dinner, relax with a show, or go for a walk. It’s important to have space around when we make to-do lists to avoid stress.
A morning routine should feel good and not overwhelm you or stress you out. I look forward to waking up every day and because I have a morning routine, I’m reminding myself at the start of each day that I am in control of my time, my life, and my choices. These are positive affirmations and actions that carry me throughout my day. If starting a morning routine feels stressful or overwhelming, then figure out why and start with something smaller that feels good.