How to Create an Effective Morning Routine
Wake up, roll out of bed, grab your phone, stare at social media for a little while, take a shower, and maybe grab a bite to eat before hurrying out the door. Does this sound like a typical morning for you?
This is a quite common scenario, and there is nothing inherently wrong with it. However, if you’re looking to improve focus, energy, and productivity then I would like to introduce you to the world of a well thought out morning routine.
What is a Morning Routine?
The scenario I just painted is in fact a morning routine. A morning routine is simply the steps we take after waking up to get prepared for the day.
What is little thought about is the effect this time frame has on the rest of our day. I can state that from my experience, developing a purposeful routine in the morning has tremendously improved the quality of my life.
You might be thinking, “I like my routine in the morning; it’s efficient and gets the job done.”
My response would be, “What job are you aiming to get done?”
A lot of times, the habits that control our mornings are geared towards adequacy. What I mean by this is, they work to wake us up, but may not be optimal for putting us in the best mindset to achieve what we desire.
See, the mornings present a wonderful opportunity to generate positive momentum that will propel us through the rest of the day.
It’s not that what you may be doing in the morning is bad. I just ask you to remain open-minded to the concept of using the mornings in a purposeful manner, aimed at aligning us with our goals and intentions for the day.
Moving forward in thinking about morning routines, I want you to imagine you are preparing for a game or performance. Every elite athlete and performer has a set routine they do in order to get their minds in the right space to excel.
Why not do the same with our lives? Each day is a performance and an opportunity to change our circumstances for the better. Begin using your mornings purposefully, in a way that will set you up for success, no matter what the day may bring.
Why Should I Bother?
A question that you may be asking yourself is, “Why should I bother with developing a morning routine?”
This is a fair question, especially since the idea of using the morning to prime ourselves for the rest of the day is not widely talked about. I will admit that it can seem tedious to develop a set routine to follow each morning. It may even feel like hard work, which is not exactly what anyone wants to face as soon as they wake up.
However, my answer to this is that you already have a routine. All I am trying to get you to do is be more deliberate in choosing what routine you do. By understanding this, we can plan our mornings out in a way that will benefit us the most.
If a well thought out morning routine is adhered to, then there can be many benefits expected by the one following it.
In her article on lifehack.org, Tracy Kennedy outlines some fantastic benefits that will be experienced as a result of following a morning routine.
As Tracy Kennedy says,
“It’s about getting started on the ‘right foot’.”
If you’d like, you can check out her full article here.
"I will admit that it can seem tedious to develop a set routine to follow each morning. It may even feel like hard work, which is not exactly what anyone wants to face as soon as they wake up."
Benefits of a Morning Routine:
- Improves Productivity. By getting yourself in a focused mindset, your productivity throughout the day will improve. A simple purposeful morning routine can get you in the mindset of accomplishing goals and following through with your tasks.
- Reduces Stress. By getting up and going through a set routine, you automatically do not feel rushed, since you will have planned out the time to complete it. In turn, you will not begin your day in a frantic and stressed state. Rather, you will be calm and feel in control, leading to a more confident state.
- Grounds You in the Moment. Being in the present moment is incredibly important for many reasons, including lowering anxiety and stress. By going through a specific routine each morning, you bring yourself into the present moment, which carries throughout the rest of the day.
- Develops a Positive Mindset. Have you ever woken up, stubbed your toe, and then the rest of the day nothing seems to go right? Well, this is due to the negative emotion you experienced early on, which then stayed with you throughout the day. Instead of a negative mindset, morning routines can help put us in a positive frame of mind, translating to an improved mood throughout the day.
What My Morning Routine Looks Like
I have always loved the mornings. From an early age it was apparent I was a morning person. In fact, it used to bother me so much if I would sleep in that I would actually get mad.
Now, that isn’t exactly a healthy way to be. But it allowed me to understand from a young age the importance the mornings have on the rest of our day.
Whenever I would oversleep, my days never felt productive. This was because I immediately got myself into a negative mood upon waking up, and at that time, did not realize how this mood then stayed with me throughout the day.
As I began to learn more and more about morning routines, I realized it’s not just about waking up early but performing meaningful specific activities directly after waking up to prime yourself for the rest of the day.
Before I began to use my current routine, there wasn’t much structure to what I did in the morning. I would wake up, immediately have my coffee (at this time I was severely addicted to coffee, now it’s only moderately so), and then either workout or make breakfast first.
While this was comfortable, I knew there was more I could be doing.
I now adhere to a strict routine each morning, though it is so habitual by now it requires no thought. Waking up this way has given me so much more focus and energy. I love it and look forward to doing it again every single day.
My Typical Morning:
- Wake up at 5 a.m.
- Make my bed.
- Take a cold shower.
- Write out my statements of gratitude, feeling the gratitude with each one.
- Write my morning pages, which consist of anything and everything that is on my mind. You can read more about the benefit of these here.
- Read my affirmations.
- Perform a twenty-minute yoga routine.
- Meditate for ten to fifteen minutes.
- Perform my visualization. This includes seeing myself accomplish all the goals I have currently set.
- Make a cup of coffee and eat breakfast.
"As I began to learn more and more about morning routines, I realized it’s not just about waking up early but performing meaningful specific activities directly after waking up to prime yourself for the rest of the day."
While this may seem like a lot to do in the morning, it only takes me about an hour to complete it all up to breakfast. Then the weightlifting is another hour or so after that.
Going through this every day is so important to me. I do not mind waking up early to accomplish it either, because this routine provides me with more energy and gets my mind in a better state than any additional hour of sleep could.
After looking over what my routine consists of, you may find some interesting points you would like to add to yours. However, do not feel like mine is the only option. There are many morning routines that work for different types of people. I have found one that works well for me.
I am sure in the future it will change, as I am always learning and trying new ways to improve myself.
It is important for you to find what works specifically for you. This may take some trial and error. In the next section, we will go over the areas I believe are vital to incorporate into your routine and provide you with some example activities that you can choose from.
How to Create Your Own Morning Routine
Creating your own morning routine should be tailored specifically to you. Think about what you want to accomplish through the routine and take into account the amount of time you’ll have.
When brainstorming what to incorporate into your routine, there are certain areas that you want to focus on.
Yes, there is no one size fits all as to what to do in the morning, but I believe if you want to get the most out of your routine, there are specific aspects that should be addressed, which include: physical, mental,emotional, mindful, and visual.
How you decide to organize your routine is completely your choice. It will all depend on your preferences and what best prepares you for the day.
"Creating your own morning routine should be tailored specifically to you. Think about what you want to accomplish through the routine and take into account the amount of time you’ll have."
I truly believe that getting our bodies moving early in the morning is incredibly beneficial. It not only wakes up the body but the mind as well. By performing some sort of physical activity, we connect with our bodies immediately and get the blood circulating.
Getting active first thing in the morning improves focus and increases energy (both physical and mental). This is due to the oxygen and nutrients that are increased as a result of exercise. Not only does it help us become more alert in the morning, but it stays with us throughout the day.
I absolutely love my morning exercise. Without it, I can really tell a difference in my energy levels. It’s almost as if I’m not fully alive the days I do not exercise.
But you may be wondering what kind of exercise you should do. Well, it simply doesn’t matter. It’s all based on your interests and goals.
For me, I love yoga because it allows me to connect with my body and wake it up. I also enjoy weightlifting because I have a goal to get stronger and build more muscle. What you want to do is incorporate a physical activity you enjoy and have time for.
Here are a few examples you could pick from:
Exercise Examples for the Morning:
- Jump Rope
- HIIT Training
Any of these are great to choose from, though some may be easier to do at the end of your routine, as I do with weightlifting. While others, like yoga or Pilates, could be performed more towards the beginning.
For the mental aspect of morning routines, I am referring to getting our minds activated. Interestingly, many of us wake up and are in automatic mode until we speak to someone else.
Before I began focusing on my routine, I would wake up and maybe look at my phone, or just go about my morning half unconscious, not having a thought of my own for quite some time.
What I encourage you to do is find a way to get yourself thinking as soon as you can. The best way I have found to accomplish this is through writing.
Sitting down and writing a page in the morning allows me to get my thoughts flowing. Whether I had an unsettling dream or something from the day before is on my mind, I can get this stuff down on paper.
Your mind will also begin to be much sharper upon waking up once this becomes a habit. Rather than being in an unconscious brain fog, you will be gaining control over your mind as soon as you awake.
The writing doesn’t need to take long, or even make any sense. Just begin to write whatever comes to your mind. There is a remarkable change that then happens as our minds learn to focus earlier in the day.
One of the most important aspects of a morning routine is getting ourselves into a positive state of mind for the rest of the day. In order to accomplish this, a conscious effort must be made to feel that emotional state.
This comes in two different forms, by feeling a sense of gratitude, and repeating positive affirmations to yourself.
When gratitude is felt, it is impossible to feel hate, disappointment, anger, or any other negative emotion at the same time. By getting ourselves into a state of gratitude first thing in the morning, it will stay with us throughout the day, as long as we do not let an outside force influence our state.
There are a few ways to feel gratitude in the morning, including:
- Write gratitude statements.
- Say statements of gratitude out loud.
- Say thank you as soon as you wake up.
- Recognize and be grateful for another day to be alive.
Positive affirmations are meant to reprogram your self-talk. By repeating them in the morning, you will begin to feel good about yourself, and the emotions that come along with each statement.
These affirmations can either be written out each day and then read aloud, or simply make a list once and then read it aloud. I do believe reading them aloud is important because it allows you to not only read the statement but hear it as well.
Some good affirmation to put yourself in a positive emotional state include:
- I am confident
- I am smart
- I am happy
- I am joyful
- I love myself
- I am the master of my thoughts
- I am full of positive energy
"Positive affirmations are meant to reprogram your self-talk. By repeating them in the morning, you will begin to feel good about yourself, and the emotions that come along with each statement."
Mindfulness refers to an in-the-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
The reason I love to incorporate a mindful practice into my morning routine is due to the peace of mind it provides.
Cultivating mindfulness means becoming more aware and present. This is done through the process of focusing on your breath and is quite simple and straightforward to perform.
A quiet mind is a peaceful mind. Fear and anxiety are caused by having too many thoughts freely running around in our minds. That is what mindfulness works to counteract.
By grounding ourselves in the present moment, all noise ceases in the mind. For the time that you are fully engaged in this state, complete serenity is felt.
This allows us to start the day from a place of control. Rather than allowing our thoughts to dictate our emotional state, we will be free to choose how we feel since we are starting from a clean slate.
The way I practice mindfulness in the mornings is through seated meditation. However, there are different ways to achieve the same result, depending on your preference. Some great mindfulness practices you can begin to use are:
- Seated meditation.
- Take a mindful walk.
- Take a mindful shower.
- Take a mindful jog.
Visualizing is a powerful process of seeing yourself the way you want to be and as if your goals have already been achieved.
Through the process of visualization, our subconscious minds are being reprogrammed due to how the neurons in the brain respond to imagery.
When we close our eyes and picture performing an act, the neurons interpret the image in an equal way to a real-life situation.
Not only does this activity help us master a skill, but it also helps us shape the way we see ourselves and the future we are creating.
If every morning you saw yourself in the manner you wish to be, your brain will begin to be convinced that is your reality. There will then only be one picture in your mind as to how you are, which is successful in the manner you seek.
This constant visualization of how we want ourselves and our lives to be will actually be creating our future each day.
Vision boards are a great way to get a clear picture of what you want. You want to close your eyes, become fixed in that very moment, and then feel all the emotions and sensations as if it were really happening.
Each morning, you will be seeing and feeling yourself in the state of success you desire. By doing this continually, your self-image will begin to change in favor of how you want your life to be.
I place this practice towards the end of my routine because it puts me in the mindset of how I want my future to look, rather than having any memories of my past control my day. The longer I can remain in the state gotten to during visualization, the more I am creating my future as the day progresses.
Morning routines are an incredible practice that work to set ourselves up to be the most focused, productive, and happy throughout the day.
We each already have a routine we do upon waking up, so why not take the time to create a purposeful one, in which certain activities are chosen to enhance every aspect of our lives.
Since utilizing a morning routine myself, I have felt more energetic, happier, and focused each and every day. It has become a wonderful part of my day, and something I look forward to every night upon going to sleep.
I hope that with this article, you have grasped the impact morning routines can have on your life and will use some of the techniques I have outlined.
I would love to hear about your experience with morning routines, so please leave a comment below.
If you have any questions about morning routines, or any other performance psychology related topic, please feel free to reach out to me.
I wish you the best of success in all you do.
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