It’s so easy for a day to get out of control before it’s even gotten started without a morning routine. Before I started mine, I’d wake up as late as possible on purpose, roll out of bed, put myself together as quickly as possible (doing the bare minimum where makeup and hair are concerned), and then get out the door, maybe eating breakfast in the car…if there was a breakfast. After that, I’d be lucky if I ever felt caught up or relaxed. I know on days that started like this for me, I felt like there weren’t enough hours in the day.
I learned a hack, though. A morning routine that somehow seems to add more hours to the day. It helps my focus, alertness, and makes me feel accomplished before the day even gets started so I have some momentum to build upon as the rest of the minutes tick by.
The Miracle Morning Concept
The list below isn’t my original idea. I’ve tweaked it to work for me, but the idea of a morning routine like this is originally from Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life. You can make this routine as short or as long as you like. Hal Elrod actually has a six-minute version on his website. Mine varies from morning to morning depending on the exercise I’m doing, how into the book I am, and how much I have to say in my journal. Sometimes I just write a few lines; sometimes I have pages.
Postpone Social Media and Emails
Who else rolls out of bed and immediately starts scrolling through Instagram, checking emails, and looking at other people’s Facebook updates? That used to be me. Ideally, I would stay off of all social media and avoid checking my emails before doing this routine every single day, but sometimes I wake up and I’m checking all my accounts before I even realize it.
It keeps your head clearer if you can avoid going to your email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc, first thing. There’s nothing like a list of news headlines, work requests, and less engagement on your posts than you’d hoped for to send your thoughts in a direction you don’t want them to go yet.
I pour a little lemon juice in a glass of water and drink that to rehydrate (especially important on winter mornings after the heater’s been going all night!) and then move on to the coffee. My husband gets up a little before me so he makes the coffee, but I would just set it up to brew before drinking the water if he didn’t. Or set it up with a timer the night before. I’d do the first couple of things on my morning list if I needed to wait longer for it to brew.
Once I’m wrapped in a blanket and settled in my chair or on the couch, I set a timer for two minutes (sometimes I’m lazy and don’t even set a timer and instead just go by how I feel). I close my eyes, sit up straight, and breathe deeply in and out. If I have a timer set, I go for the full two minutes, just focusing on my breath and trying to only observe and release thoughts that pop into my mind.
Latching onto a thought or making a mental to-do list defeats the purpose. I try to make sure I do this part when no one else is around me. The noises and other people’s presence can be distracting even if they’re not talking directly to you.
Want an app to use instead? Check out Headspace for guided meditation. The first 10 days or so are free and I think you can repeat those meditations as many times as you’d like even after 10 days, but you’ll have to pay for more features. Even the free 10 days may be enough to get you started so you can continue on your own.
Think Through Your Dream Life
This is where I blur the Affirmations and Visualization together a little bit. I let one bleed into the next since a lot of my affirmations (which I keep in Notes on my phone) have to do with becoming my ideal self with the career I want. I tell myself I have the personality traits I want and that I already am the thing I want to be, career-wise. Then I visualize myself in situations where I am living that life, behaving like the person I hope to become, getting paid well for doing the work I dream of being able to make a living from.
All of this probably takes three to five minutes, depending on how imaginative I’m feeling. Sometimes I can step right into the scene and explore all the details and feelings. Other days? I just can’t get in the right frame of mind for it. I do my best but end it quickly.
This is where I can really lose track of time. If you’re running short on time and can get sucked into a book like I can, set an alarm on your phone like you did for the meditation so your morning routine doesn’t backfire and derail your day. Sometimes I’ll set one for 10 minutes or I’ll flip ahead and see how long a chapter is and then only allow myself to read one. This is the time I read personal development books. I save the fiction and even a lot of the non-fiction I read for later in the day.
I notice a huge difference in my mind, anxiety, depression, and patience levels when I’m reading something that keeps me in check and on the path to a better version of myself every day. Don’t be ashamed to buy and read books on things you need help on, even if you think you already know what to do but can’t manage to get it together. Sometimes reading an idea you already vaguely have or have seen before–but with someone else’s spin on it–makes all the difference.
Sometimes I write a paragraph just to check it off the list. Sometimes I find things that were rattling around in my mind, bothering and nagging at me, and end up writing pages just to figure it all out, see how I really feel about something, and just explore my own thoughts. Sometimes it takes the physical act of putting pen to paper to sort out what’s in your mind. This, like reading. does so much for my general mood.
I’m an INFJ personality type, which means that I often have to “talk to someone else” (which includes journaling) to figure out what I think or how I feel. It’s not enough to turn it over and over in my mind. It has to come out. Sometimes the decision or solution takes me by surprise.
You can find it on Amazon here. I like how smooth the pages are and the fact that it will lie flat. It’s also beautiful, which motivates me to write in it more often.
I used to do cardio first thing in the morning and it was pretty much the only morning routine I had; I’d drink water, drink coffee, and exercise, then get on to business as usual. I’d do 30 minutes of steady state or running intervals or 15-20 minutes of a HIIT video. Lately, I’ve been doing yoga, since I committed to 30 days of it and it’s way easier to talk myself into that than the more intense workouts first thing in the morning. Especially when it’s cold and I don’t want to move out from under my blanket.
By this time, I’m done with my coffee (pre-workout, anyone?) and ready to move. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can just do 25 each of squats, push-ups, and crunches (sub in your favorite exercises or join one of those quick monthly challenges you can find on Pinterest). The point is to finish waking your brain up and sweat a little. I like to have a little apple cider vinegar before I work out or immediately after I’m done, too.
Do you have a morning routine? Have you had one in the past that you want to revisit? Will you be starting one for the first time soon?