Happy Tuesday! Have you ever had a day where something goes wrong and a metaphorical domino falls in the morning, knocking down the entire day? As someone who works from home, I spent all of April practically in yoga pants. I rarely got dressed, was taking midday naps, and was feeling like there weren’t enough hours in a day to catch up. What can I say? Things weren’t very..err…glamorous. I had no concept of a morning routine.
I did some homework on positive morning habits and have been working on each one, month after month. After polling my Instagram followers, it became apparent that other people want to find morning hacks as well. Today, I’m sharing my a peek at the morning routine that had kept me focused, happy and motivated. Every morning is a little different, but the days I practice this schedule are outstandingly better and more productive.
Rising Early to Rise Strong – 7:00 a.m.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve convinced myself to be an early riser and it’s been one of the best decisions for me. For the first month of my leap into entrepreneurship, it wasn’t uncommon to find me sleeping in. Working from home allows me to do everyday things like workout or go to the grocery store at any time in the course of the day; however, I soon learned that to be the best business owner I could be, I wanted to be on the same clock as the brands I work with. Waking up early allows me to have hours to be completely alone in my apartment (no offense to Brian) and get in a state of mind to start my day the right way.
I like to wake up with my alarm clock rather than my cell phone so I avoid getting bombarded with all of the texts and news notifications I missed the night before. (Hello, anxiety!) After I’m done hitting the snooze button, I’ll get into gym clothes and get ready to start my morning routine.
My Mindfulness Practice – 7:15 a.m.
In the words of author Anne Lamott, “My mind is like a bad neighborhood, I try not to go there alone.” If you would have told me three months ago that I’d be meditating every morning, I would have thought you had the wrong person. If you could spend one minute in my head, it feels every outlet mall I’ve ever been to. Thoughts are pushing against each other for space, it’s incredibly loud, and disruptive tourists are slamming their baggage (in this case emotionally baggage) into your walking path.
I started using the Headspace app a month ago for 10 minutes each morning. I’m not going to mask my initial discomfort with closing my eyes, sitting still and listening to someone telling me to breathe. In the beginning, it was actually a bit irritating. My mind restlessly jumped to the most inappropriate moments when given privacy. Visions of bad ex-boyfriends or looming deadlines would fill my head like unwanted visitors. Over time, the app taught me the best lesson: how to gracefully acknowledge and push away thoughts without letting them control me.
Since starting Headspace, I’ve realized I actually look forward to the quiet time in my mind each morning. I’ve stopped myself in my tracks when I start to form ideas about the way people see me, how good I am at my job, what my limitations are, and so much more. The app has different areas you can focus on, so I’ve practiced the self-esteem and productivity sessions in depth. There are also mini one-off sessions for everything from unwinding for sleep to de-escalating your anxiety.
A Cup of Gratitude – 7:30 a.m.
My old morning routine was to groggily walk to my Keurig for my first cup of coffee with my eyes half shut, mindlessly scroll through Facebook and Instagram, and downing my cup like I’m shotgunning a beer at a college party. Lately, I’ve been giving myself some time to get settled and reserving my cup of coffee for quiet moments spent in solitude.
I use the Five-Minute Journal which allows me to reflect on the top three things I’m grateful every morning and the three amazing things that happened to me in the evening. Each page features an inspirational quote pushing you to question norms and live life to the fullest possible extent. I’ve tried journaling on my own and really can’t stick to writing extensively about my day, so this quick and easy notebook is a winner for me.
(P.S. I play this playlist to get in the mood!)
Exercise – 7:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.
I won’t say I make it to the gym EVERY morning, but I notice a HUGE difference in my productivity on mornings that I do. Being active, even if it’s only 15 minutes of your favorite ab workout or a one-mile run outside, can really change your perspective and manifest a new sense of purpose in your day.
In Charles Duhigg’s book, “The Power of Habit,” he shared a fascinating point: “Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.”As someone who has consistently overslept and missed workouts, this is a very newfound revelation!
Get Fresh Air – 8:00 a.m.- 8:20 a.m.
If you have pets, a morning walk with your pups is a perfect way to get in a little activity if a run isn’t your thing! When I walk Minnie, we just circle the block (because she likes to sniff every possible bush) for 15 minutes and I take the time to put on a peaceful playlist or positive podcast. Keyword: positive. My go-to is Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday because, well, Oprah.
Get Dressed (Put Down the Yoga Pants)
Take a shower and get dressed for the day! Being fully dressed makes me feel more confident to conquer the day.
Plan to Seize the Day – 8:20 a.m.-9:00 a.m.
I like to be at my desk with coffee #2 (I know it’s bad!) before 9 a.m. so I have a chance to sit down and write my goals for the day. If you are a homebody like me, it’s great to find a friend to keep you accountable and co-work with. My friend Daphne and I share an Evernote to-do list so we can see what each other’s goals are… making it VERY easy to call each other out on excuses and give a little nudge.
My No News Rule – 7:00 a.m.-12 p.m.
Choose your media wisely. My “positive podcasts only” rule developed after I spent all of 2017 listening to New York Times’ The Daily podcast with my blood boiling before I even sat down at my desk. Michael Barbaro is a talented journalist and has the voice of an angel, BUT I realized that my anxiety would be REELING after every episode. My heart rate would go up as I listened to divisive news stories, feeling completely helpless all before 9 am. My new rule is to not check my phone’s news apps until 12 p.m. By noon, I’m well into my day and feel like I have a better grasp. This decision protects my faculties and productivity because diving head first into a hectic news cycle can be distracting and discouraging. I am not telling you to be uninformed (trust me, I’m a journalist), but I’m telling you to take care of your mental wellbeing and give your mind a chance to start the day off with a sense of clarity that’s not precluded by stress.
What Will YOUR Morning Routine Be?
New traits take a while before they can ingrain themselves as a habit in your mind. This list may seem overwhelming but it might spark a little inspiration to change a certain part of your day. Everyone’s morning is personal to them, but these are the ways I’ve found that I work best and feel happiest. If you want to try some of these techniques, I recommended choosing one at a time to add to your schedule. Try meditating for two weeks straight, then tack on exercising, and continue until you devise the schedule that best fits you.
Do you have a successful activity that makes you feel great you wake up? Tell me in the comments!