The Importance of Morning Routines

Sunrise over the field

In the fall I wrote a post explaining my daily habits and included this bit about my mornings:

First thing in the morning I do about 3 minutes of yoga just to stretch out, then some gratitudes and affirmations. I don’t look at my phone until those are done. I get into my exercise clothes and then go downstairs to workout in the gym we put in our basement (you could go for a walk or workout somewhere else if you don’t have the luxury of the space at home). Then I have a healthy breakfast and start my day.

Sunrise over the field
CC-0 Michael Schwarzenberger

I want to explore in more depth my morning routine and why having such a routine matters. Having a regular morning routine has made a significant difference on how well my days seem to go and it’s noticeable when I don’t stick with the routine.

In addition to what I wrote in that earlier post, I also spend some time, usually first thing, planning my day. This doesn’t include checking email or my calendar or to-dos on my phone. I make sure that scheduled items and important to-dos are in my paper planner at the end of the previous day. This allows me to start my day with focus on things that align with my goals. Yes, there are days when this has to go completely out the window because of a sick child or other such curveballs life may throw at me on any given day. Most days, however, sticking to my priorities works out. I refer to my planner throughout the day because that’s where I block out time for meetings and getting things done, including when I’ll check and send emails, work on projects, and even go for a walk at work to make sure I get up from my desk on a regular basis.

I do some form of exercise almost every day, even if it’s just a 20 minute walk on the treadmill. If you’re not an active person, the idea of exercising at all, let alone every day may not sound appealing. I’ve gotten so used to it, however, that on the days that I don’t exercise I don’t feel as good. It isn’t just about the physical benefits of exercise either. My head doesn’t seem as clear and my mood isn’t as good, so I try not to have too many of those days. Exercising in the morning improves your mood because it helps your body release hormones such as endorphins that make you feel happier. If you workout at the end of the day, you may miss out on that benefit.

I take the bus to work most mornings because their is a bus terminal right near my office and my parking spot would be far away if I drove. Taking the bus also gives me the time to listen to podcasts that help inspire me, fuel my creativity, and let me just relax on the way to my office. I have some regulars including The Accidental Creative and Under the Influence, but am always looking for other ideas so feel free to leave some comments with your suggestions.

If I don’t make the time before leaving the house, I will take two to three minutes on the bus or once I sit down desk to do some deep breathing. There is an app that comes with my watch that helps me do this at a good rhythm and for a reasonable amount of time. Sometimes I find the time to meditate at home before I leave and this covers my “breathing time” for the morning. If not, I try to make some time in the afternoon to do even a short (ten minutes) meditation at my desk.

When I don’t make the time in the morning to do all of these things, I notice the absence throughout the day. I’m less patient, less clear headed, and I tend to not eat as healthy. I highly recommend finding a morning routine that works for you. Experiment. Try some things, reflect on how well they work for you and adjust accordingly (I’m an early to bed, early to rise person so I have the time to do these things). As with everything else that I write about on here, you have to find the path that works for you, but don’t worry if you have to periodically change course. That’s life.

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