How to Find Your Perfect Morning Routine
According to many self-help and personal development experts, the perfect day starts with the perfect morning routine. A morning routine sets the tone for the day and gives you an opportunity to be more mindful and intentional with how you’ll spend your time.
A routine is simply a sequence of actions that you repeat. A basic morning routine could include waking up, brushing your teeth, getting dressed and going to work. However, more complex morning routines are becoming popular because of their benefits for personal achievement and well-being.
Having a morning routine may boost productivity, creativity and focus. It can also just feel better to ease into your morning rather than feeling perpetually behind or rushed.
While everyone’s morning routine will be different, this post contains tips on designing your ideal version.
Goals of a Morning Routine
Before creating your morning routine, you should get clear on why you want one. Having your goals and intentions in mind can serve a couple of purposes. First, it can help you build a routine aligned with your desires. Secondly, it can give you a reason to stick to your routine on days you’re tempted to hit snooze.
Why do you want a morning routine? What are you hoping to achieve? It can be helpful to consider the benefits:
- Productivity. One of the most common reasons to wake up early is to have more time in the day to get more done. Starting your day earlier gives you an additional hour or two to start crossing things off your list. Research also shows that morning people are more proactive, meaning there’s something about the morning that tends to fuel our sense of accomplishment.
- Focus. When you’re just going through the motions, it can be easy to lack perspective and lose focus. Giving yourself time to settle into the day can help you narrow in on what’s important today and in life in general. Morning routines can also increase your attentional focus when you choose certain practices, such as journaling or making a daily plan.
- Energy. Many people add physical activity to their morning, whether it’s a jog or yoga session. Exercise is a well-known energy booster and can improve your focus and thinking skills.
- Inspiration. Being inspired can help you do more creative work and feel happier. Consuming positive content in the morning can motivate you.
- Calm. Rushing into mornings can mean starting the day with anxiety. Making time to wake up and do something inspirational can set a peaceful tone that’s more likely to last through the day.
Read more about using the morning time to plan your day ahead.
How to Personalize Your Morning Routine
Although you can read about other’s morning activities, you’ll need to personalize your own habits.
It’s impossible for us to give you the perfect routine because mornings are highly personal. The set of activities you start your day with depends on a few factors:
1. How much time you have
2. How early you’re willing to wake up (and go to sleep)
3. The time you start work
Your routine will also look completely different when compared to someone with a different life. The morning routine of a parent getting their young children ready will be different than the morning routine of a person who lives alone and only operates on their schedule.
When it comes to morning routines, the options are as endless as the number of lifestyles. One person may wake up and head straight to the gym for an intense workout. Another may start work first thing. Yet someone else may have two hours to dedicate to journaling and meditation. Whatever your situation is, the important thing is to be open to discovering what works for you.
Do Something You Enjoy
Your first step to creating a morning routine is to choose an activity you enjoy. This may sound counterintuitive if you’re used to mornings being chaotic and rushed. However, making time to do something you love in the morning can give you the motivation to wake up. Having something to look forward to can help you start your day in a positive mood.
The activity you choose depends on what you like doing and how much time you have. Some people have an hour to dedicate to a creative hobby, while others only have 10 minutes to squeeze it in.
Enjoyable morning activities could include:
- Taking a bath
- Reading a magazine
- Having a cup of coffee in the sun
- Watching a motivational talk
- Coloring in an adult coloring book
- Cooking breakfast
- Spending playtime with your children or pets
- Watching the sunrise
- Planning a trip or dream
Keep in mind, though it’s a routine, you don’t have to do the same thing every day. Being flexible can help keep you motivated and inspired by how you spend your time.
Pick a Practice
To make the most of your morning, use the time to learn a healthy habit. It’s easier to stick to a new practice when it’s built into a routine, added before or after already-established tasks.
For example, if you want to start doing yoga after brushing your teeth, putting your toothbrush away is your “cue” to begin your session. You’ll recognize this cue for the first couple of days or weeks, but over time, it will become automatic. Your yoga practice will become easier to stick to.
To reinforce the habit, choose a reward to give yourself every time you’ve completed that task. For example, maybe after yoga, you enjoy a smoothie or an enjoyable activity.
The best morning routines combine mind and body activities for two major reasons:
1. Tasks that get the body moving can increase alertness, energy and regulate appetite. Studies also show that morning physical activity can improve mood as well as focus, decision-making and visual learning. “Body” activities can also involve dietary habits, like making a healthy breakfast.
2. Mental activities awaken your brain to take on important tasks. Many times, our mind is abruptly “woken up,” as we begin a complicated work project. Getting some enjoyable mental stimulation first can get us into a better mindset. Depending on the task you choose, it can also have its separate set of benefits.
For example, morning meditation has a variety of science-backed benefits, including that it may increase the brain's ability to process information.
Body-focused morning routine ideas can include going for a run or walk, doing some yoga or pilates and cooking a healthy breakfast or preparing a green juice.
Mind-focused morning routine ideas might be things like writing, reading or meditating. According to a 2019 survey, one-third of Americans consider meditation essential to their morning ritual.
Know Your Needs
Your first crack at developing a morning routine may not be your last. That’s because as you add and delete activities off of your list, you’ll start learning your needs. Use this time to discover more about yourself and what you need from a routine. Instead of trying to craft the perfect ritual, take a trial and error approach.
Maybe you tried waking up an hour earlier, but you find you’d rather have an extra 30 minutes of sleep. Or, perhaps you realize that morning meditation makes you calmer, but journaling isn’t for you, so you drop it from your routine. Another option is to simply move a task to your evening ritual instead of getting rid of it.
Your aim should be to strike a balance between a routine that makes you feel good, helps you reach goals and fits into your schedule.
Morning routines provide us with structure. The predictable sequence of events can allow us to get chores done and achieve tasks with ease. With that being said, it’s important to realize that not every morning will look the same. You can have a general idea of how things will go, but life changes, and we need to make room to be flexible.
Many times, we put pressure on ourselves to stay disciplined despite circumstances we can’t control. Accepting these scenarios without beating ourselves up can ensure we’re back on track tomorrow.
Healthy Days Start With Healthy Mornings
Starting the day on our own terms and prioritizing our needs determines how the rest of the day will go. By developing a routine that’s healthy, enjoyable and moves us towards our goals, we'll experience better mental and physical well-being and get more satisfaction out of life.
By following the tips in this guide, you’ll start to refine your perfect morning routine and discover what works for you.