All was quiet in the morning, except for one thing.
Only the in and out of my breathing was audible. I opened my eyes briefly to see the sun shining in from the window and smiled. Today was going to be a great day—particularly because I was starting my day in this way.
Why did I stop doing this?
I’ve known this to be important. Many extremely productive and successful people have morning routines.
Things get busy. You go to bed later one night and on hearing the alarm the next morning, all you want in life at that moment is several extra minutes of sleep. You get into the habit of hitting the snooze button. You groggily stumble out of bed later than you’d like, hurried, and maybe you grab something to eat before getting started but maybe not. Coffee. You spend the remainder of the day feeling reactive, slightly irritable, going from one email and phone notification to another.
I started feeling the toll from my lack of morning routine about several weeks back. My productivity level wasn’t at the level where it used to be. I felt tired, overwhelmed and behind. It didn’t quite add up.
On the surface level, things were going great.
I was primarily working from home, and while some weeks were busier than others, I felt better than I’ve ever felt when I was in my corporate job. Including the work I do for Uncoveries, contract work and my other ideas, the hours were and will continue to be probably more—but who’s counting? I’m not, because although it may sound like work, I’m choosing to spend the time on those things.
But the incremental output of those hours spent was slipping. I started sensing the nagging feeling—increasing in persistence—that I feel when I know I need to make a change.
Earlier last week, I decided to reinstate an adapted version of a morning routine.
The order will vary some days, but I try my best to have my day incorporate all of elements. What works for a morning routine will differ for each person, and it will naturally shift and change throughout your life. However, everyone could benefit from similar routines incorporating aspects of the following provided tips.
Here are the 7 ways to supercharge your morning routine.
I’d highly encourage you to read through and adapt a morning routine for yourself. Try it out, experiment and tweak as you go. You’ll notice the impact immediately on the first day!
1) Get moving immediately
No more snooze button. Set your alarm for when you actually need to wake up. The quality of sleep you get in between alarms is not high quality. Plus if you have a sleeping buddy, it’s an annoying awakening for the other person.
When you hear your alarm, get the momentum going as you roll over to turn off the alarm, swing your legs over the side of the bed and use your arms to sit up. Take your time to gather your senses. While sitting on the edge of the bed, raise your arms and stretch out your back, neck and body.
While it may work for some people to jump out of bed immediately, it personally works for me to take my time. I’ve gotten up out of bed too fast before and perhaps because I naturally have lower blood pressure, I was dizzy enough to fall back and hit the back of my head against the furniture. Know your body.
The important thing is to sit up in bed and start moving with some stretches. Resist the temptation to fall back horizontally! After I get up, I typically go use the restroom, wash my face and do some other regular hygiene stuff.
2) Hydrate your body
This is important, before you have your coffee.
You’ll want to get water into your body as one of the first things you do in the morning. Most of the time I have a glass of water by the bed. Otherwise, walking into the kitchen to get some water is an excellent way to continue moving.
The act of drinking water at the start of your day will rejuvenate you, particularly because the act of sleeping for multiple hours dries out your body and when you wake up, you’re naturally dehydrated. Most of your body is water, and your brain is made up of about 75% water. Restoring the water reserves will give your cells the much-needed water to carry out their functions at an optimal level. There are multiple benefits to drinking water in the morning.
I’m experimenting with some morning hydration concoctions that are fancier than plain water or water with lemon. I’ll share back in a future article on my findings!
3) Engage in gratitude and visualization
I enjoy spending at least 5-10 minutes in gratitude and visualization, splitting my time equally between both. Sometimes I do it all in my head, other times I journal. Both options are great and I pick and choose depending on my mood.
This practice puts your perspective immediately in the positive at the start of your day. When I don’t make the time to do it on some days, I definitely notice the difference. The content of the gratitude and visualization varies depending on what’s going on. If I know I could use an extra boost on a particular subject area, I’ll focus on that. I’ll be sharing some thoughts and tips in a future article.
Originally I did this while sitting down on a pillow and closing my eyes, but found I’d drift in and out of consciousness if I were extra tired that day. Now I prefer doing this while walking around the house, sometimes even while getting ready for the day if I’m in a hurry—while getting dressed for an early morning workout class or making breakfast. I’m not a morning person, so for me, keeping myself moving in the morning works best for me.
4) Affirm what you want
Usually I tie my affirmations to a personally important and meaningful thing or event that is happening that day. Perhaps there’s a big meeting, presentation or some challenging deliverable for the day. Otherwise, I tie it to a longer-term goal. If possible, I make the affirmations as specific and short-term as possible, many times concentrating on what it is I want to get done that day.
It’s best to say out loud or write down statements that affirm the desired outcome you want. I prefer not to just do this in my head, because the biggest impact comes from action and creation. The act of saying it out loud reinforces the auditory aspect as it plays back in your mind. The act of writing it down is validating because it’s now materialized in physical form. Depending, I sometimes say the affirmations out loud while getting ready for the day on mornings with a shorter timeline.
5) Exercise your body
Exercising your body in the morning is great for firing up your metabolism and increases your chances of exercising more regularly since you’re getting it in before the demands and fire drills during the day.
I try to go to a gym class in the mornings, but if not, I spend at least several minutes doing some stretching and exercises. Here’s a great 7-minute workout routine that I do sometimes. There are tons of quick workout videos of varying intensity you can watch and follow along if that works best for you. There are days when I go for a walk or a gym class later in the day, and that’s fine too. As long as the exercise happens at some point during the day, I view it as a win.
6) Nourish your body
It’s important to start off your day with something that’s nutritious and healthy. Whether it’s a big breakfast or a small one, the most important thing is that you choose the right source. When I don’t eat a healthy breakfast, I tend not to feel as well as on the days when I nourish my body appropriately.
Even though they’re delicious, skip the breads and pastries. Try your best to stick to good protein, veggies and fats. Depending on your body and any dietary restrictions, you could try eggs, oatmeal, Greek yogurt, avocado, or smoothies.
7) Start on what’s personally meaningful
I try to prioritize the personally meaningful items on my to-do list first. What’s personally meaningful doesn’t mean the most urgent. There are times when the urgent does trump the former, but where I can, I do what’s personally important first.
Most of the time, I don’t even look at my to-do list because I already know what’s most personally important to me. If I need to review my to-do list and prioritize, I’ll do so; otherwise, I start straight away on the meaningful item until it’s complete, I run out of time, or until I’m satisfied with the progress.
What are you waiting for?
Get started and excited for today (or the next one if you’re reading this post-morning) by trying out your own version of a morning routine. Some people don’t get another morning. You’re one of the lucky ones who did, so make the most of the day by getting an awesome start.
Everyone’s morning routine is different, so it’s good to get ideas from other people, tweak and adjust as you’re figuring out what works best. Your needs and schedule will change as you go along, and for the best chances of a consistent morning routine practice, you’ll need to shift accordingly.
As with all good habits, the hardest part is keeping up the morning routine when times get busy. Pay attention and take notes on the benefits you feel and see with the morning routine. It’s important to keep those benefits in mind when you feel the pressure to skip what may be the most important routine in your day!