A guide to finding and sticking to a morning routine that actually works for you
You may have heard a lot of talk about morning routines. Some of the most successful people swear by theirs. Here we explore the benefits of a good morning routine and provide guidance on finding one that works for you.
What exactly is a morning routine?
A morning routine is a pattern of behaviour that is repeated at the beginning of each day. Morning routines can vary in duration lasting from no time at all to up to several hours. During the working week morning routines are often associated with what is accomplished before we start our work.
A morning routine doesn’t necessarily have to be particularly fulfilling or virtuous - it could simply mean jumping into the shower, dashing on some clothes and heading off to work!
What are the benefits of a good morning routine?
A good morning routine helps you establish positive momentum putting you in good stead for tackling the rest of your day. This momentum makes you far more likely to have the mindset conducive to being productive.
A good morning routine can help you reach your full potential in the areas of your life which are important to you whether that be career, fitness, health, spiritual or family. It can increase your personal satisfaction, sense of purpose, and self-esteem making you happier, healthier and more productive. The sense of normality that a good morning routine gives you also helps keep you calm and can reduce stress levels.
It is important to understand that there is no "best morning routine". A good morning routine is highly individual and differs from person to person. It can be dependent on many things ranging from an individual’s biology to life goals. There is therefore no "best morning
How to create a good morning routine that works for you?
The chances are you already have some form of a morning routine even if it just means hitting snooze on your alarm until you simply just have to get up to make it to work on time. Obviously if you did this every day, you might not be doing yourself an awful amount of good or be far on the path to reaching your full potential.
Below are three key steps to finding a morning routine that works for you:
1. Identify areas in your life which you are keen to progress in
The first step is to ask yourself the question, which areas of my life am I most keen to progress in? Your answer may include a list of broad areas such as diet, intellectual capability, family bonding, physical fitness and mental fitness. You may find it useful to rank the areas in order of personal importance.
Here's a worked example:
1. Mental fitness
2. Physical fitness
2. Identify small wins for each area
Once you have a clear list of areas in mind, the second step is to identify morning routine ideas of small wins relating to each of these areas. You should be able to achieve these in a short space of time each morning. Also make a note of how much time you anticipate each one taking. When completed, these small wins should be able to give you the positive momentum you need for your day ahead.
Continuing our worked example, here are some examples of small wins:
- Meditate (10 mins)
- Practice mindfulness exercises (15 mins)
- Open the curtains and make bed (2 mins)
- Perform weights and cardio (30 mins)
- Stretch or practise yoga (15 mins)
- Walk the dog (30 mins)
- Cook and eat a healthy breakfast (30 mins)
- Drink two glasses of water (2 mins)
- Drink a cup of coffee or tea (5 mins)
Although not part of our worked example here are some more morning routine ideas for small wins:
- Eat breakfast with family (30 minutes)
- Help kids get dressed (15 minutes)
- Discuss evening plans (5 minutes)
- Read newspaper (30 minutes)
- Write down ten creative ideas (10 minutes)
- Listen to an improving podcast (5-60 minutes)
Reflection and planning
- Add new entry to gratitude journal (5 mins)
- Review plan for the day ahead (5 mins)
3. Implement by starting small
You should now have a list of areas which are important to you and some small wins relating to each area which can give you positive momentum for the day ahead.
The trouble is that it is very difficult to implement all of these in one go. Trying too much and failing could put you off having a morning routine altogether.
The key is to start small and build up. Start with the most important one or two small wins. Once you have turned these into routines add another. Keep adding small wins as and when you feel comfortable until your list is depleted or there simply isn’t any time left.
You may find yourself waking up slightly earlier over time to accomplish more. Don’t rush this process as your body clock will likely rebel. Take your time, perhaps waking up 15 minutes earlier every week. You will eventually need to decided how much time you are willing to spend on a morning routine. Most good routines last at least 30 minutes but can go on for 2 even 3 hours.
Here's our worked example again. The routine lasts for 90 minutes so may take someone who currently has no morning routine a month or two to implement.
6.30 am Wake up and meditate
6.40 am Drink two glasses of water
6.42 am Perform weights and cardio
7.10 am Shower and get changed
7.30 am Prepare and eat a healthy breakfast
8.00 am Leave to work
How to stick to your new morning routine?
Customise your morning routine to suit you
Your morning routine should be all about you and so it is important to make sure it works for you.
Be truthful to yourself and don’t feel that you must wake up at 5 am every morning to go for a jog in the dark. Some people (quite understandably) don’t like waking up when it’s pitch black outside and may prefer to exercise indoors during their lunch break or when they come home in the evening. There’s nothing wrong with this – it is completely fine! Similarly, don’t feel that you must meditate (or anything else for that matter) because society tells you to do so. Try it out by all means, but if it’s not working, don’t be afraid to call it quits and try something else.
Get enough sleep
One common reason why morning routines fail is that people go to bed far too late the night before and are simply too tired to wake up. Work backwards from the time you intend to wake up to give yourself plenty of time to sleep and recuperate. Most people need 7-8 hours, but everyone is different so take this into account especially if you need more. Also give yourself an hour or so to wind down before you go to sleep.
Don’t be afraid to switch and change when an aspect of your morning routine isn’t working for you.
Similarly, there’s going to be times when something pops up which throws your morning routine out of the window. Perhaps you have to go to the doctors, have a sprained wrist, or have an early morning flight to catch.
The key is to be adaptable. Do only what is reasonable with the given constraints which may involve focusing on your priorities. Make sure that you are focused on switching back to your full routine (if that’s what you want) as soon as you get the chance again. Good habits are difficult to form but ridiculously easy to break.
The journey to establishing a great morning routine is sometimes easier and more enjoyable when you reward yourself along the way. Treat yourself to a nice meal out or a weekend lie in once in a while when you have achieved mini goals along the way.
A good morning routine can have huge benefits on your productivity, happiness and health. The key is finding out which areas of your life you are most keen on improving and identifying quick wins that can help you build up momentum in these areas. There is no "best morning routine" as suitable morning routines differ from person to person. Sticking to a morning routine is not straightforward but there are ways in which you can maximise the chance of success. This includes customising it to suit you, getting enough sleep and learning to be adaptable.
This article was created for informational purposes only and does not necessarily represent the views of For Chaps Ltd. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.