Morning routines are awesome. They can energize you, make you happier, healthier, fitter, and what not. But let’s be honest, for most people, incorporating a strict morning routine is more of a romantic fantasy than a realistic plan. That’s why I’m going to introduce you to a better approach today. It’s proven, tailored to your individual lifestyle, and not only easy to maintain, but even fun! Don’t believe me? Keep reading.
How to build an individualized morning routine
A friend of mine rides his bike to work every single day. No matter if it’s windy, or snowing, or raining. For him, this short bike ride is the best way to get his circulation going. It also makes him much happier than squeezing himself into a subway train, filled with grumpy people, at rush hour.
What he does is a perfect example of a simple morning routine. But it only works because all the circumstances are in place for him; his workplace is close enough, he lives in a bicycle friendly city, he isn’t afraid of bad weather, and he can “park” his bike in the office so it can’t get stolen or damaged.
But what works for my friend might not work for you. What you need is an individualized routine for your unique situation.
Here is the structure I follow when creating morning routines:
- Get rid of all the harmful morning routines in your life.
- Include universally beneficial activities.
- Pick something you love and make it extremely easy to maintain.
Get rid of all the harmful morning routines in your life.
Before we can even begin to think about building new, healthy habits, we have to throw out all the trash we are currently doing. So let’s go through all the stuff that you should avoid at all costs within the first hour of the day:
- Watching TV, answering email, checking your phone, or anything else that involves modern technology.
- Drinking sodas. Or drinking nothing at all.
- Eating heavy food. Consuming white sugar in any form. Overeating.
- Stress. (“I am late for work! Now run, run, run!”)
- Snoozing the alarm.
If you can avoid these bad habits, you are already ahead of most people. But we won’t stop there. No way, Jose!
What most folks miss is that what they are doing wrong before going to bed might prevent them from getting up in the morning. Here are two things that make the next morning a snooze fest:
- Eating within 90 minutes of going to bed.
- Looking at blue light, like from a laptop screen, right before bedtime. (I use f.lux to convert my notebook’s nasty blue light into a softer yellowish light.)
- Watching TV until you pass out from exhaustion.
Don’t add anything else to your morning routine before you have successfully eliminated these harmful activities!
Include universally beneficial activities
Now, it’s time to add some beneficial stuff that works in every situation – no matter if you are a 40-year-old corporate lawyer or an 18-year-old pothead.
Here are some ideas on what every good morning routine should include:
Whether you drink tap water, green tea, freshly pressed orange juice, or coffee in the morning, make sure you are properly hydrated. During the night we sweat and lose a lot of water. That’s why it’s essential to rehydrate in the morning.
Your next meal is, at least, a few hours away and you need energy that lasts you throughout the morning. Therefore, food like whole wheat bread with low-fat ham or cereal with fruit and nuts is a perfect choice because it gives you steady energy instead of the rush and fall of white sugars. Check out our Pinterest Breakfast board for recipes.
Feeling awake and productive
Showering and getting dressed are essential. Other than that, it’s a good idea to move your body in some way. (yoga, stretching, walking, fitness,…)
I like listening to uplifting music that makes me feel good. I highly recommend you do the same. Other than that, you could write down what you are grateful for, do visualizations, meditate, juggle or whatever else floats your boat.
Pick something you love and make it extremely easy to maintain
The key to a successful individual morning routine is to combine what’s good for you with what you love and then make it extremely easy to maintain. Like my bike-riding friend.
I, for example, love music. It makes me happy. For me, jumping out of bed in the morning is not hard at all, because I look forward to singing along to my favorite tunes in the shower. I dance and sing and check myself out in the mirror. Not because I am a self-obsessed asshole, but because it makes me feel happy and attractive. Anyone seeing it would probably call me crazy. But I don’t mind. It’s my only alone time throughout the day. And I am going to savor every minute of it.
To make this routine work for me, I had to make sure it’s easy to maintain. So I put a Bluetooth speaker that’s loud enough in my bathroom. Now I just have to connect my phone to it, select my feel good playlist, and hit play.
If I hadn’t bought the speaker, made sure it’s always charged, and prepared the playlist beforehand, I probably would tell myself, “Fuck it, I’ll just do it without music this one time.” Then the one time would have led to another ‘exception’, and another, and another…
It’s the same thing for my bike-loving friend. If he hadn’t made sure his bike was ready to go, there is a good chance he would just ride the subway instead of pumping up greasy tires.
So no matter how great your routine is, you have to make sure it’s always ready to go!
The routine part in morning routine
Keep in mind that a morning routine is only valuable if you can make it a routine! Just doing it once won’t give you the benefit of a habit, which is automatically doing something without requiring any mental effort (like when you brush your teeth)
That’s why I say: KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Wanting to jump out of bed at 5 AM, followed by a green smoothie, a 5-mile run, some yoga, reading 100 pages, meditating for half an hour, and petting your cats for 20 minutes is a noble resolution. But can you consistently do it for at least a month without missing a single day? What about special events like vacations or business trips?
Rule: If your morning routine isn’t easy enough to do it every single day of your life, it’s too complicated. (and not fun enough)
My morning routine
For those of you who are curious what my morning routine looks like:
- Drinking a big glass of water.
- Stretching or light workout.
- Showering (not too warm), grooming, and other hygiene stuff while listening and singing to uplifting music.
- Getting dressed. (also in the bathroom)
- Writing down what I am grateful for.
I have done this routine in every situation imaginable. Even when I spent a weekend with friends on a deserted island in the middle of a huge river and we partied all day. I had to replace the shower with a bath in the river, but other than that, it was pretty much the same.
All I need for my routine is clean water, pen and paper, clothing, and some device to play music with. I have tried all kinds of morning routines. Trust me when I tell you that only the extremely simple ones work for beginners.
I’m curious. What does your individual morning routine look like? What do you do to make it easy to maintain? Share your insights in the comments.
Thx for reading!