Morning routines, is it important or just a hype? The Internet is full of ideas and variations of good routines. Many great entrepreneurs and leaders cite their morning routine as a large contributor to their success. There are even books written solely on this subject.
Like it or not, you have already established some form of morning routine. On a daily basis we carry out activities in a certain order without much thinking – washing up, making coffee, checking our phones, reading the newspaper, making breakfast, et cetera. The question then is what are the good ones, which supposedly can contribute positively to what you want to become or achieve.
For years I go through my mornings without giving much thought to it. Hit that snooze button, drag my body to the bathroom, wash-up, down the coffee, check my phone and so on. After many years of waking up and doing life, we sort of follow a certain flow automatically.
Lately though, maybe due to wisdom that comes with age, I began to scrutinise my morning routine to see if I could do it better. I suddenly feel that life is short and there is so much I still want to do. Starting the day with a good routine can set a good foundation for the rest of the day.
For me, my aspired morning routine is concentrated on the small window of time when I am alone in the morning, when my boys, wife and the little squirrels up the tree are still asleep. Ambitious to some, child-play for the morning elites, I set my alarm clock at 5am.
Disclaimer – At this point I am writing on what I aspire to achieve as my morning routine. Writing what is ideal is easy. Practising it daily is another story. But still, we have to start somewhere.
After some soul-searching (read copying ideas from others) and experimenting, I believe the following four elements are important for you to set a positive rhythm to start your day:
Get enough sleep
Any good morning routine must start with a good night sleep. That is at least 7 hours of quality rest for us adults. Can’t cheat here. Insufficient quality sleep means you will be less than 100% to tackle the challenges of the day.
Getting up at the same time daily is important too. We often hear that people who wake up earlier are more productive. This does not mean that night owls can’t have a productive morning that leads to a productive day. Their mornings may start a little later, but it can be also productive nonetheless.
What time you wake up is not as important as getting up at the same time each day. Waking up at the same time each day will help you get in tune with your body’s clock. Our bodies follow a circadian rhythm which is often referred to as the internal clock. This internal clock helps regulate the level of sleepiness and wakefulness over a 24 hour period.
Try to go to bed and wake up consistently daily so that the circadian rhythm is stable, which will then lead to optimum hormone levels, body temperature, metabolism, and immune system.
Get in touch
Once I am up, the first thing I should do is to get in tune with my inner being. I used the auxiliary verb ‘should’ because really, I don’t. Usually I would get up, brush my teeth and proceed to coffee without much thinking in between.
But I do think that it is important to wake up and get in touch with your inner self. Thank God for his blessings or recall things that you can be grateful for. Journaling and writing down your aspirations would be great. Note down ideas that come to you. Read a book passage that encourages your soul. Do what works for you. The idea is to get in touch with yourself and what is important to you.
Christians can use this session to have devotion – a quiet time with God, praying and meditating on His word. Buddhists can take the time to centre themselves with good posture, steady breathing and mindfulness. Learn some basic mantras. Pray for the well-being of your family and friends. Regardless of religion, get your spiritual being aligned with your maker.
Get some movement
The next thing I work on is my physical fitness. I try to put more time on this element as I am currently training for a 100km trail ultra. It can be really hard sometimes, but I do my best to haul my ass out the door every morning, except for rest days.
Running is my thing but it is just one of the many movements you can choose from. What you want is to get moving and elevate your heart rate. The volume and intensity of your workout will depend on your level of fitness. You don’t have to exercise till it sucks, but aim for a good effort.
Start easy if you have not been active. Get out of the house for cool fresh air. Try brisk walking and work it up to running. If you would rather stay indoor, invest in a treadmill or elliptical trainer. Any form of cardio workout is good.
Personally I believe the morning workout is good because it improves physical energy and enhances focus throughout the day. It will also increase your metabolism and self-esteem at the same time. You will feel a sense of accomplishment, knowing that you have completed an important task.
Waking up early to exercise will also help you sleep better at night in return. Your body will enjoy a healthy sense of fatigue at the end of the day and you will be ready to sleep well. And the positive cycle continues.
Get the fuel
Don’t skip breakfast, unless you are deliberately fasting. Skipping breakfast can set you up for overeating later in the day. A healthy breakfast on the other hand gives you energy and set the stage for a great day.
I now make it a point to allocate time in the morning to prepare and eat a healthy breakfast. During weekends I love the opportunity to prepare breakfast for my boys and then have it with them. It is good bonding time. Perfect way to start the day with my family.
If you are training, you need a healthy breakfast that combines good carbs and fibre with sufficient protein to aid recovery. Soft-boiled eggs, low sugar cereal, peanut butter on whole meal bread, tuna chunk wraps are simple pleasures I rotate around the week. A protein-packed breakfast helps satisfy my appetite and fuel my day.
It may that some time to find your morning rhythm. Following a set of healthy morning routine needs practice. No one is the same, so everyone should find their own morning elements that works best to individual’s needs. Life happens, things change. Stay flexible and always be ready to adapt when the need arises.
Once you have decided on your morning routine, work on it until it becomes automatic. You may not see drastic gains but don’t give up. Consistency is key if you want to experience improvements in your life the way you desire it to be.
A productive morning routine generates positive momentum for the day ahead. This momentum is an important part of human psychology. When you start your day right, you are likely to keep accomplishing things the rest of the day. Simply put, a good morning routine will set you on a positive rhythm to a productive day ahead.