I’m always looking for ways to be more productive! Having a productive morning routine helps me to set the tone for the rest of the day, but I don’t think that there’s a one-size-fits-all-the-time regimen. Instead, I have a flexible routine, with a few key elements, that I adapt as our family’s schedules change. If you’re trying to create your own morning routine, here are 7 of those key elements that you can customize to suit your lifestyle…
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1. Wake Up Well Rested
Getting enough sleep is the most important part of a productive morning routine. Since sleep deprivation can cause physical, emotional, and cognitive issues, it can be counter-productive to start working at 5:00 am if you fall asleep at midnight.
Our sleep patterns are determined by biology, exposure to light, and habits. Though we have a tendency to be morning larks or night owls, we can adjust habits to create sleep patterns that work for our schedules. (Sorry, saying that you’re a night owl isn’t an excuse to binge-watch Netflix!)
If you need some tips for unwinding before bedtime, take a look at this post: 7 Ways To Relax Before Bed.
Did you know that your body loses water while you sleep? Your body can lose over a pound of water from breathing and sweating, even more, if you snore or breathe through your mouth. Dehydration can cause headaches, sugar cravings, and muscle cramps, none of which are good for a productive or stress-free day!
I’ve tried starting the day with hot water and lemon, but it made my teeth more sensitive. (Lemon juice is acidic and can damage tooth enamel.) Instead, I keep my Yeti Rambler filled with plain water on my nightstand and then refill it all day long. I found that using a straw helps me drink more, so I’ve been using these stainless steel ones (that I bought from Amazon two years ago.) My other favorite water bottle is by S’well which is a little easier to take with me when I’m on the go.
My skin needs a hydration boost in the morning, so I splash my face with cool water, before massaging in a moisturizer and sunscreen. (You can read more about my favorite clean skincare products here.) If you have oily or acne-prone skin you may need to cleanse in the morning, and then use moisturizer.
3. Make A Plan
Another popular piece of advice is to stay away from your phone until you have completed your morning routine. Hmm… Since my phone is my alarm clock and my planner, I need to take a quick glance in the morning to know what’s ahead in my day. A few tips so that you don’t disappear into the world of social media scrolling:
- Only look at your calendar, messages, and e-mail. Most of my promotional e-mails come after 7:00 am, so I can do a quick check without being tempted by the latest Nordstrom sale!
- Set a timer. (I scan my phone while I’m using my electric toothbrush which gives me two minutes to look for urgent messages!)
4. Nourish Your Body
I’ve experimented with many different breakfast routines including caffeine, no caffeine, carbohydrates, no carbohydrates, a small meal, a large meal…pretty much everything but a drive-through fast-food breakfast!
What’s working for me right now is coffee with collagen powder and a handful of nuts or a tablespoon of nut butter. Since I’m working from home and able to eat lunch early, I don’t need a lot more for breakfast.
Experiment with breakfast recipes and see what foods and quantities give you the energy you need to be productive. (A food journal is a huge help for this.)
I’ve also read that you should do your most creative work in the morning before you do chores. I don’t! I find that clutter encourages clutter, so I like to start the day with a clean space.
While I’m brewing my coffee, I unload and reload the dishwasher. I make two to three meals a day for our family of five, which means that we always end the night with a full dishwasher as well as a full sink.
If you don’t have a busy kitchen, make your bed and tidy up your workspace to get a fresh start.
6. Choose A Mindfulness Practice
A mindfulness practice helps your start your day with a positive outlook. Here are a few that you might try, depending on how much time you have:
Write down three things for which you are grateful. Hint: Keep a notebook near something that is already a part morning habit, for example, if you drink tea every morning, keep it on top of your box of teabags. (Read about habit stacking in this post.)
Try Neil Pasricha’s Two Minute Mornings which combines gratitude with release and a goal for the day.
Try a breathing exercise. Try one of these three options from health expert Dr. Andrew Weil.
Meditate. There is much debate about how long we need to meditate to reap its benefits, but 10 minutes is a pretty good length of time for a beginner. I’ve tried meditating at night to help me unwind before bed, but I find that I am more likely to forget or fall asleep! Adding it to my morning routine helps me practice it every day.
30 Minutes or More
If you have more time, combine mindfulness with your workout. Yoga isn’t the only exercise that includes mindfulness. Have you ever heard of mindful running? Because running is a simple, repetitive motion you can focus on your breath, your body, or (if you’re running outside) your environment. The point is to be present rather than lost in thought.
7. Find The Light
Morning light is said to help with your sleep cycle, energy level, and mood. Eat your breakfast on your porch. Go for a walk while you drink your coffee. Clean up your yard for 15 minutes. Sit by a window to put on your make-up or plan your day.
Do you have a morning routine? What are the essential components of yours?