The power of the morning routine
A good morning routine is the secret behind many people’s success, which is why we’ve put together our guide to creating a successful morning routine. Ever since the launch of Hal Elrod’s book, Miracle Morning, the power of the morning routine has been increasingly acknowledged as being able to make you calmer, happier and more productive. However, just as with decorating your home, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach and someone else’s routine might leave you feeling exhausted and inadequate. Instead, find what suits your lifestyle, values and passions. Add in activities that call to you and keep your routine flexible. That said, there are three essential elements that we believe every morning routine should include.
THE THREE ESSENTIALS
These are the elements we believe every morning routine should include.
- START EARLY
Set your alarm for one to three hours before you have to clock-in with anyone else. Having some time to yourself in the morning enables you to fill your own cup before the world starts demanding your energy and attention. This means you won’t be pouring from empty and will be able to show up as the best possible partner or parent or colleague you can be. Try to keep your wake up time consistent. The biggest trick to waking up early is simple: go to sleep early the night before.
- GO PHONE-FREE
The number one tip that everyone should follow is to plug your phone on charge in another room and get an old-fashioned alarm clock. It’s great to start your day with your own thoughts and not immediately be bombarded with external information. This sets you up to act, not just react.
3. DO SOME HOUSEKEEPING
Often the reason we feel tired is because we are dehydrated. Starting the day with a big glass of water is a great way to get your mind feeling clearer and set you on a path to make healthier choices for the rest of the day. Also, make the bed every morning. This simple practice works well because it means you are accomplishing at least one thing, and it bookends the beginning and end of your day. External mess equals internal mess, so even straightening a bed can have a profound effect on your mindset.
THE OPTIONAL EXTRAS
Choose your favourites from the list below or add your own ideas. Think about which 20% of these activities will give you 80% of the results you want to achieve and prioritise those. If you want to be calmer, make time for meditation. If you want to be fitter, focus on movement. If you want to be more creative, prioritise writing your morning pages or practising your hobbies and passions.
WRITE MORNING PAGES
This one is hit and miss with people. It’s essentially a practice where you take some time to sit at your desk and write down everything you’re thinking onto blank pages in the morning. The technique is associated with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Note: you’re not writing a to do list. You’re writing a stream of consciousness, as a way to get your tangle of thoughts out of your head and trap your monkey mind on the page. This will mean you can get your thoughts straight and get on with your day. If you want to do more creative writing, this is also a great way to explore that too.
Write a list of things you are thankful for. Some days this list will be long. Other days it might be very short. But there is always something to be grateful for and tapping into this is the key to a happy life. Studies have proved that a simple daily practice of gratitude improves your physical and mental health. It will ensure you don’t take anything or anyone for granted and it will remind you that your life is happening right now, today. One day in the future, you’ll look back on this time in your life and be able to recognise all the wonderful ways in which you were lucky. But it’s even better if you can do that in the present moment, right now, and go into your day noticing and appreciating your blessings. It will change everything.
Just 10 – 20 minutes of meditation will have a profound effect on your day. If you can do more – even better! Maybe you already have a meditation practice, or maybe meditation is something you’d like to get into. There are lots of fantastic apps out there to help you get started. But just sitting in stillness and tapping into your breath can be a really powerful reminder to come back to the present and honour where you are in your life today. It’s a great way to observe thoughts, impulses and patterns, so that you can respond to frustrations that will inevitably arise later in the day from a rational, calm place of love – rather than a brittle one of fear and ego.
DO AFFIRMATIONS AND VISUALISATIONS
Again, this might be something you’re familiar with, but you might not be. In a nutshell, affirmations are auditory and verbal. Say or write a series of ‘I am’ phrases and insert whatever you’d like to be today, or are committing to working towards being. Visualisations are visual and nonverbal. Picture how you want today to unfold and what the best version of yourself today looks like. Of the two tools, visualisation is the most powerful, but both can be helpful so try combining them. If this all sounds too woo-woo, just ask yourself: how can I have the life of my dreams if I don’t know what my dream life looks or feels like? Get clear on what you want, so you can make sure that you’re taking steps to reach it.
Get blood pumping around your body and oxygen to your brain. You don’t have to do a full-blown morning workout, if that doesn’t suit you. Some people love to do exercise first thing. However, others find they are much better at exercise around lunchtime, or even in the evenings. Again, it’s all about listening to your own rhythms. But doing some gentle stretching or a few sun salutations or even some push ups is recommended for getting you feeling more alert and awake. A morning walk is wonderful, whether with a four-legged friend or solo. Cold showers work too. This will put you in a proactive mindset so you’ll see solutions throughout the day, rather than focusing on problems, as you do in a negative mindset.
PRACTICE YOUR PASSIONS, HOBBIES AND SKILLS
Do you feel as if you have no time to read novels? Would you like to learn a language? Practice a musical instrument? Do you wish you had time to draw or paint? Well, getting up early is how you make time. Spending the morning doing something you love is not only good for your mood but it will fill you up so much that you’ll be in a better position to give more to others throughout the day.
OUR FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE
As with all things in life, start simple. Don’t try to do everything on your first morning, you’ll just end up overwhelmed. Start with the essentials, then add to these. Stuck with which extra activities to do? Just as when deciding what to fill your home with, our advice is listen to your heart and choose what resonates with you. When you’re tight on time, be flexible with your morning routine and it’s OK if you have to skip it sometimes. Just come back stronger when you next can and try not to miss too many mornings in a row. Making a new habit stick is all about building momentum. Try it for a month and see how many miracles happen. You’ll be amazed at the profoundly positive impact such a simple daily ritual can have. Because if you win the morning, you’ll win the day. And happy, successful days add up to a happy, successful life.