The early bird gets the worm. But what if the bird gets up in the morning and just doesn’t feel all that inspired to go and get the worm?
We’ve all been told for as long as we can remember how important it is to start the day well. But it doesn’t matter how old we get, we can still find ourselves slipping out of healthy routines and back into negative habits.
We sleep in too long, we rush, we don’t eat well, we don’t take care of our health...
Often, these things go on for a long time before we even notice. When we do finally notice that our mornings have taken a slump, the realisation can be quite harmful in itself. We worry that we’re wasting time or we become anxious that we’re letting our health deteriorate. Sometimes, we just become very frustrated because of how tired and sluggish we feel in those first hours of the day.
The road back to a productive morning can be a difficult one to take because it often means doing things we don’t find immediately appealing. Perhaps we need to start going to bed earlier, stop eating sugary cereal, or work up the motivation to do some exercise. For successful people, morning routines are all about taking and planning out these little steps.
We also know that once we start down that road of beginning a new habit, things get better and easier quite quickly. In this article, we look at what it takes to build a solid morning routine from the ground up. It’s about laying a foundation of physical and mental energy, kicking bad habits, and moving on to kicking goals instead.
A Good Morning Routine Starts the Night Before
You can have the morning routine of a head of state or the CEO of a Fortune 500, but it will count for nothing if you don’t get a good night’s sleep. Most people are now aware of the huge importance that getting enough good quality sleep has on things like energy, mood, brain function, the immune system, and general wellbeing. You can’t build a good morning routine without having a solid foundation of energy and positivity, which means a good night’s sleep is non-negotiable.
The other reason that prioritising your sleep is essential to your morning routine is that it’s very hard to organise your time if you are waking up at different times each day. Not only is a regular sleep pattern going to improve the quality of your sleep, but it will also give your mornings a rhythm that you can work with.
Breakfast of Champions
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day…
But seriously, if you want to have the energy to be productive in the morning (and throughout the day), you need to be feeding your brain and body something good. Eat well, but not too well. Overeating in the morning (or eating heavy foods) will make you feel sluggish.
Also, spend some time finding recipes and buying healthy foods you actually like. If you look forward to breakfast, you will get an immediate endorphin kick to start the day.
Burn Fat, Burn Stress
Incorporating exercise into your morning routine is another stereotype of a successful morning but, for all the hype not many people actually get it done.
Part of the issue is time. We can’t all get to a gym by 6, be home by 7.30, and then be at the office by 8.30. But you don’t need to get to a gym to reap the benefits of morning exercise.
Of course, doing higher intensity exercise has more potential health benefits, but even running for twenty minutes or doing a living room circuit of burpees, squats, and situps can give your day a big boost. By getting the heart pumping, you are not just improving your physical health. You are also giving your body a shot of endorphins that will keep your worries at bay throughout the day.
Meditation: Fad or Fact?
On a busy morning, it’s often the case that we think we simply don’t have time to stop and sit. Paradoxically, the more we think that way, the more likely it is that we need to do just that!
Meditation has been much maligned as a fad, but you don’t need to be entirely “new age” to embrace the benefits of slowing down and calming your thoughts for a few minutes in the morning.
At heart, meditation is all about lowering the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, a system best known for producing the fight or flight mechanism. When we think about work and all the other things happening in our day, the sympathetic nervous system is the one that is muddling our thoughts, creating bodily tension, and making us feel just generally worried and uncomfortable.
A successful morning routine can incorporate even just five to ten minutes of meditation to relieve stress and restore cognitive clarity so that we can focus on what we need to be doing.
Getting It Done
So, what ingredients do we have so far in our new morning routine? A good night’s sleep, a healthy breakfast, a bit of exercise, and a touch of meditation.
This should be the foundation on which you then build out the best morning routine for you. To start getting things done, you need to work out a plan for how to tackle the day. It’s all well and good to get your energy up, but you need to have a good idea of how you are going to channel it.
For many people, it can be beneficial to get the ball rolling by achieving some small tasks like purging their inbox or organising their desks. Just like making your bed, kicking these little goals will give you good momentum to go on and tackle the larger issues of the day.
But whether you have these activities to do or not, it’s a good idea to create small, manageable plans for what you’re going to get done in the first few hours of the day. Break your time up into blocks and give yourself realistic objectives to achieve within each.
In short, if you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves.