Do you have a morning routine?
In college and through my early twenties, a morning routine wasn’t something on my radar. My usual morning included sleeping as late as possible and getting up as close to my first appointment as I could manage. I would basically jump out of bed, grab a bite to eat along with a cup of coffee, reach for my bag, and out into the world I would go.
My Morning Routine
Fast forward a little more than a couple of decades to my current during-the-week morning routine:
My alarm goes off (music) at 6:45 most mornings
I stay in bed for a few minutes. My dog and I look at each other; We both stretch (my husband is already downstairs)
I do a mental check of how I feel and say some positive affirmations in my head based on the result
I check in with my kids as needed. I’m not entirely present but I fake it as much as I can
I get out of bed and get dressed, continuing to stretch and yawn the entire time. I still feel fuzzy
I take my dog for a walk in nature and feel some brain activity
I give my dog breakfast, make myself some coffee, do the wordle and read something interesting off of my computer (usually news related).
Embarrassed to admit this, but if I’m still struggling I will play a few games of Candy Crush
And now my brain has fully clicked on. I review my top priorities for the day and get started!
Why A Morning Routine Will Increase Your Productivity
Recently, I have been giving some thought to the topic of morning routines based on what I see happening with my clients and loved ones. Here is what I am noticing:
People without morning routines are less productive
All routines are important but a Morning Routine is one of the bookends to your day (the other is a nighttime routine - more on that another time). Finishing up your Morning Routine is a signifier that you are ready to start the day. So, for example, if I tell my client to write down “3 Things” that they want to accomplish that day, the cue to start the first task is once they complete their morning routine. So when working on productivity with a client, I often ask about their morning routine. I tell them to fill in the blank:
“I am ready to start the day when…”
And they reply:
...I finish washing my breakfast dishes,
...I finish my morning coffee
...I finish reading the paper
...I get dressed
Those that don’t have a usual morning routine, often struggle to start their day and attend to those “3 things” they have written the night before. Or if their preference is to write their “3 things” in the morning, they might never get to writing them down at all.They are pulled mindlessly from one task to another.
Mastering the Morning is More Critical For Certain Populations
The Chronically Ill
I am currently working with a client who has long-haul Covid. When we talked about morning routines, it became clear that simply opening his eyes in the morning and getting out of bed was a process for him. We are in the middle of organizing a routine to help him assess his pain level and calm his body so he can open his eyes and get out of bed. If he is having a difficult day (I call those “B” days) then his focus for the day will be to do the minimum amount to get through the day. If he feels good (an “A” day) then he can concentrate on being more productive.
Those with mental health issues, ADHD or other neurodiversities have particular trouble with routines and transitions. People with anxiety might stay in bed for hours because they are fearful of what the day might bring. Those with sensory issues might need more “input” through movement to energize them enough to start their day while others need less “input” such as gentle light and sound or they feel too overwhelmed. People with ADHD often have trouble establishing routines and those with HIgh Functioning Autism (HFA) struggle to change their routines even if these habits are not serving them. Consciously tweaking their current morning routines can really set the stage for a more satisfying and productive day.
What is your morning routine? Is it working for you? How long has it been since you have tweaked it? Please share in the comments.