Morning routines are something everyone with definite goals should aim at developing for themselves. You will find a wide array of pre-conceived routines on the Web and even tools and apps that will help you commit to them. Such routines are in my opinion essential for all of us who struggle to fit our goals into our busy life. As it is very easy to get overwhelmed by emergencies (sometimes fictive emergencies) as the day passes by, one of the easiest things we can do is actually to achieve more in the morning, when the whole city is asleep, and the buzz of your life has not started yet.
My own routine depends on whether or not I am training/coaching in the morning.
When I wake up at 6 to go to our gym, I usually skip the routine and try to do it later during the day, as I know training is one of my major goals.
When I don’t train the morning, this is what it looks like:
Make a cup of tea and journalize.
I have always felt the need to journalize, especially when I was going through tough moments in my life. But I would use it as a palliative solution, not a preventive one, mainly because of the social stigma around it: journalizing is to adults what a diary can be for little girls, and IT IS FINE. I had to read about successful people doing it, like Tim Ferriss, to accept the idea that I was not going to lose my manliness over it.
The benefits? Journalizing takes out the silent conversation you have in your mind about everything you have to do, everything you did, and your metaphysical observations of life. Our brain sometimes seems to be afraid to forget these important stuff, so it will keep running a program in the background that will allow these thoughts to pop up on a regular basis. This consumes way more headspace than you think. Buy yourself a notebook, and put your ideas there. I would recommend you make a habit to do it in the mornings, but feel free to use it anytime.
As I finish pouring my (sometimes useless) ideas on the paper, I use this momentum to engage in a gratefulness session, by writing down everything I can think of at that moment and that I should be grateful for. Gratefulness is a concept I came across only two years ago, and it changed my life. My personality was not naturally grateful. And as silly as “forcing” yourself to acknowledge the beauty in your life might sound, it will change the lense through which you look at your life over time. Being grateful, stopping to enjoy life and appreciate it fully will become second nature after a few months. Which in turn makes you a more positive person, which is good for both your psyche and the people around you.
So every morning I’ll think of 10 to 20 items I am grateful for this day. It can be the sun rays that are filtering through my window. My body, which is still able to follow me. My relatives. The decision I made the previous day. This new person I just met. Myself for being awesome. The era of endless opportunities we live in. Myself for taking the time to go through this morning routine, etc.
Do a quick mobility routine
Once my brain has been stimulated in a creative and positive way, it is time to wake my body up.
I go through a quick mobility routine that mixes Anatomy in Motion hamstrings patterns and Ido’s hip routine.
Do a quick meditation
Just before jumping on the bandwagon of life, I lie down on the floor (please note, not the bed), close my eyes and do a quick body scan from head to toes, trying to feel any zone of discomfort, of comfort, and of emptiness, as well as my general mood. As I do so, I try to stay focus on this, letting go of the thoughts that naturally come in and out of my mind.
Whatever you choose to add in or remove from your morning routine, here are a few pieces of advice to keep in mind:
Keep it short & simple. You want this to become second nature. To be so easy that you won’t have to struggle to do it. To be so short that time should never be an excuse not to do it. I keep mine around 15 minutes.
Make it the first thing in the morning. Leave these notifications on your smartphone and your breakfast for later. They WILL defeat the purpose of the routine, as for once you are trying to pay attention to your inner world, and not the external stimuli, something we are not used to in our Western cultures.
Don’t stress it. Right you kept it short and yet today you really really can’t make it. A real emergency happened. It’s okay. This happens. I sometimes skip it, and won’t do it on most Sundays. But I remember how committed I was on the other days, and how it helps me move towards my goals. At the end of the day, you are still improving on yourself way more than if you were not doing anything at all. Tap yourself on the back. And get back on track.
Double it with an evening routine. This is a personal favorite. I usually feel very good after doing my morning routine, because the first minutes of my day have been dedicated to what really matters. But then life gets in the way. And by the end of the afternoon I feel frustrated, because the only thing I can think of is how my day was unproductive for me to achieve my goals, forgetting about that time I took for myself. Well, finishing your day with another small routine might just be what you need. Waking up and going to bed with the feeling of achievement may be exactly what you need if you find yourself in similar situations.
The routine can be the same as your morning, or different. My evening routine consists of reading a few pages of a non-fiction book, listening to 15 minutes of an audiobook or a podcast and do a quick breathing exercise. What about you?