A lot of people talk about morning routines. There are countless books and online courses out there about the ‘perfect’ morning routine. It can be overwhelming but I think the important thing to realize is that regardless what the specifics of a particular routine are, having a routine, any routine, is better than not having one. It doesn’t mean you have to stick to it every single day and feel like a loser any time you hit the snooze. There are substantial benefits to simply having the intention of waking up a little earlier and starting the day on your own terms and not in a frantic rush, snoozing your alarm 17 times until the latest possible moment you can get out of bed and still not get fired from your job.
Each person will have a different morning routine that resonates with them. Some books have a very strict outline of the five or six things you must do in your morning routine, but I think this type of rigid framework is a recipe for failure. Someone else’s framework is a good starting point, and if it works for you, great; but feel free to add, remove, and change it over time if there are parts that don’t work for you. There are several basic categories that comprise most successful morning routines. At is simplest form, a good morning routine consists of waking up earlier than you have to, starting the day on your own terms in a proactive rather than reactive way, and including an activity from one of more of the following categories:
- Physical Exercise
- Mental Exercise
- Personal Development
Physical Exercise is self-explanatory, and remember, this doesn’t have to be strictly sticking to someone else’s proposed exercise routine. It can be yoga, stretching, a short walk, a long walk, a jog, lifting weights, doing push-ups and crunches on the floor next to your bed, playing basketball, etc. It doesn’t need to take a long time or be physically exhausting but it is an essential part of a productive morning routine. You will have more energy and feel better all day if you incorporate some type of physical activity into your morning routine.
Mental Exercise is perhaps less clear conceptually but is just as important as physical exercise. The way I define mental exercise is usually some sort of meditation or meditative activity. This can be something like using the meditation app Headspace for a 10-15 minute guided meditation session, coloring in an adult coloring book, or writing in a journal. Taking time to meditate rather than immediately diving into all the thoughts swimming around in your head about the million things you need to do today can drastically improve your mental well-being and your ability to handle stressful situations throughout the day.
Personal Development is a broad category and I think it differs from mental exercise in that personal development usually has a more specific objective. This includes things like learning or improving skills, focusing on or writing down goals, spoken or written affirmations, etc. Personally, the two things that I like the most in the personal development category are 1) reading about business online or in a magazine like Inc.; and 2) taking online courses on a site like Coursera, Udacity, and EdX, so after exercise and meditation, I take 30-60 minutes to read or work on whichever course I happen to be taking at the time.
These are the three categories that are most common among successful morning routines. Feel free to leave a comment below if there are other activities that you’ve found to be especially beneficial to incorporate into your morning routine.