8 Simple Steps to a Better Day: My Morning Routine
The concept of a Morning Routine has been around for years. I remember desperately trying to hammer a morning routine into my sons as they were growing up. Sadly, the only one that truly stuck was brushing their teeth, but hopefully as they get older and mature, they’ll catch on to some of the others. Make your bed? Put away your #$% stuff ?? One can dream....
But today I’m talking to mature, respectable, grown-up women (i.e. you;) so I’m thinking you can relate and are more interested in the topic than my sons were/are. 🙃
I’m a firm believer in the power of routine and positive habits, and during the Covid-19 lockdown I’ve made even more of an effort to create and stick to a morning routine. I thought I’d share mine with you today because I realized how truly helpful it is for me.
The way I found out how important my routine is to me was by skipping it.
For a couple days last week, I went off the rails of my previously solid morning routine, and man did it take a toll on my mood and productivity. There is a clear and direct correlation between doing my morning routine and having a better day. No doubt about it.
Don’t worry….I’m not going to tell you that you have to get up at 5am. In fact, I’m not going to tell you have to do anything in order to have an effective Morning Routine. The key is to develop one that works with your life, your sleep patterns and your personality. This is what works for me..take it for what it’s worth and design your own.
My 8 Step Morning Routine to a Better Day
Let me start by crediting Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning for inspiring me to develop a morning routine in the first place. And thank you friend and B.Styler Carol Perlman for her recommendation of the book. It changed her life, and it's changed mine as well. That said, I don’t do the exact steps Hal lays out, but the point is, I developed my own Miracle Morning Routine that works for me. Here it goes:
1. Get up One Hour Earlier than Usual
😉And by "get up" I mean actually wake up and get out of bed and vertical;)
Notice I didn't say get up at 5am. But, if you normally get up at 7, try getting up at 6. And if you’re like my son and normally get up at 11am, get up at 10am instead;) The reason for this is simple. You want time by yourself before the other humans in your world get up and start to annoy or interrupt you. Seriously though, even if you live alone, this uninterrupted time will become sacred and beloved - trust me.
And even if you love your sleep, I’m willing to bet you a cup of coffee that you’ll start loving this time even more than that extra hour of sleep (most of the time at least). It may take some time, and you may have to go to bed a little earlier, but it’s so worth it.
Here’s an aside for the night owls out there who are saying, no way jose' to early mornings. I guess you could do these things late at night if that works better for you. The point is to have dedicated, uninterrupted, private time whenever you can get it and make a daily routine. That said, I still think the way you start your day determines your day, so keep that in mind. #tryityou'lllikeit 😉
2. Drink 16 Ounces of Water, Right Away (before coffee!)
I fill my 16 ounce bottle before bed and put it on my bedside table. When I wake up, I have a game with myself where I can’t drink any coffee until I’ve downed the whole bottle. I take my vitamins and meds while I make my coffee and chug chug chug the water. It’s so important to rehydrate after a night’s sleep. I drink 3-4 more bottles during the day.
3. Head to My Morning Routine Hideaway
Next, coffee in hand, I head to the little loveseat in my office/living room. For me it was helpful to dedicate a particular room for this next part. It’s a spot in the house that I’ve associated with my morning routine and it’s quiet, cozy and free from distractions. I recommend designating a particular place in your house - it doesn’t have to be a private room...just a spot for you to be alone and comfortable and (hopefully) undisturbed. Be creative and make it pretty!
I start with my daily devotional, reading the designated page from this book. There's a page for each day of the year. It takes about a minute or two to read each day and I find it so powerful. I’m a Catholic, and if you are Christian and interested in having a daily devotional routine I highly recommend this book (it was a gift from a dear friend - thank you SB!) The key is to do what works for you, so take it or leave it or adapt it to fit your own beliefs and interests.
4. 5 Minute Meditation/Prayer
Next I meditate and/or pray for about 5 minutes. For beginner meditators, I love the 10 Percent Happier app by Dan Harris of ABC News (who was a very relunctant meditator like me). I also recently started to use the free Insight Timer App as it has prayer-based, guided meditations as well as every other meditation type you can imagine. I’m still a novice ...I can’t say I’m a huge fan yet, but I’m determined to use it to become more mindful, less anxious and more focused...all benefits of meditation.
5. Write Something!
Next I take 5 minutes to write in a free-style journal. I’ve tried many types of journals but for me a book of blank, unlined pages works best and I literally just scribble thoughts, stories from the prior day and things I’m grateful for. It’s very much “stream of consciousness” writing...no prompts or structure. This works for me but if you want more direction, the 6 Minute Diary looks really good. I actually plan to leave my journals behind for my kids to read someday, so that is always in the back of my mind as I’m writing. Maybe I should have a separate book for my deep, dark secrets. I’ll have to consider that;)
6. Read Something!
So at this point I’m about 15-20 minutes into my morning - tops. Next, I spend time reading. Usually about 10 minutes but sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the day. During this time I read a non-fiction book on personal development or something related to business and entrepreneurship. Some of my favorites that I’ve read (or re-read) recently include:
Next up is Stories that Stick
Have you noticed that so far I haven’t mentioned things like “check email”, “read texts” “scroll through social media”? That’s because my goal here is to AVOID doing any of those things during this Morning Routine. I know that the minute I “check my phone”, the wheels can easily go off the proverbial bus and I head straight into the time-wasting vortex. Am I perfect about this? No. But I am aware of the temptation and make a conscious decision to avoid it.
Next, I exercise for at least 30 minutes. Ever since the world came crashing down in March I started doing on-line workouts almost every day. I miss my gym friends SO much but I have to say the time and money I save has been significant. I never thought I was motivated enough to work out at home, alone - but given no other option, it’s just part of my routine. In particular I’ve gotten hooked on at-home yoga and am slowly getting better at it. I have a long way to go, but the beauty of doing it at home is that I can’t compare OR embarrass myself with others. In addition to yoga (which I aim to do everyday), I try to mix in some HIIT workouts, and I also love barre classes and go on walks/jogs a few times per week. YouTube is filled classes; it’s a matter of finding the ones that you like. It’s such a personal thing. Here are a few that I've been doing:
Action Jacqueline (Yoga, Barre, HIIT)
30 Minute Strength Training Bootcamp (HIIT, weights - note the modifications!)
Speaking of exercise --- Here’s another little routine I started during quarantine...I read about habit stacking in the Atomic Habits book...and challenged myself to do 5 pushups every time I go to the bathroom. STRANGE, I know. But since I’m home all day, it’s an easy way to work them in and get stronger arms in the process. You could do standing countertop push-ups to start, and work up to real ones. You could also habit stack with something else (instead of the bathroom which may seem weird to you). Maybe everytime you fill your water bottle or enter your kitchen, or open the fridge, etc. you do 5 pushups. Or maybe alternate squats with push-ups for variety. Just think of creative ways to sneak those powerhouse moves into your day. Can’t do push-ups yet? Here’s a great guide for how to start and work your way up.
8. Last but not least...You guessed it - #justgetdressed
I’d love to be able to tell you that I’m dressed to the shoes by 9am everyday, but that would be a big fat lie, especially these days. This new never-leave-the-house routine has definitely impacted my fashion choices;)
That said, I so passionately believe in the power of clothes (and especially accessories) that I do consciously #justgetdressed (almost) every single day. And I find the earlier I get around to it, the better my day is.
I’m not making this stuff up ladies...it matters, it's impactful and it does NOT have to be hard.
Actually I think it can and should be one of the most enjoyable things you do each day. That, my dear friends, is the missoin of B.Styled:
To help women like you leverage the power of personal style to create a better life.
So there you have it, my morning routine. Do I miss days occasionally? Yes. Weekends can be especially hard. But my goal is progress not perfection. And I find the more I do it consistently, the more it just happens on autopilot. And that’s the goal of routines and habits, right?
I’m guessing many of you already have morning routines firmly in place. I love talking about this stuff, so I’ll be starting a thread over in the private #justgetdressed facebook group where we can talk about it. See you over there!
Until then, drink your water, move your body and #justgetdressed.