I’ve been trying to establish a morning routine for myself since 2013.
It’s actually part of a larger scheme: consolidation of nice habits. Some people say they hate routine. “Routine is boring”. “Routine is intimidating” “It kills our creativity”.
I believe that when our routines are not well balanced, then they might become a burden in our lives.
Routines don’t have to be all about boring work. We can have a routine for fun too, right? There’s something very wrong with the word “routine”. We automatically relate it to (boring) obligations. I prefer to think like Joshua F. Millburn of The Minimalists:
“I do not have a daily routine. I no longer need one. I do, however, have habits on which I focus every day.” — Joshua F. Millburn
First steps: waking up earlier
So, at first I tried to start my day with a routine that included things I enjoy doing. As you know, I love to read. And it would be a joy to start my day reading!! My first morning routine included:
- Wake up at 6: get out of bed (no snoozing!)
- Take a bath and put clothes on (6–6:30)
- Drink a glass of water and Read (6:30–7:00)
- Make coffee and eat breakfast (7:00–7:30)
- Hair and teeth (7:30–8)
- Leave (8:00)
I could complete the routine for about 3 days, starting on a Monday. By Thursday I was dead tired, and I snoozed… The problem was that I wasn’t getting enough sleep!!
The truth is that I was also trying to get into the habit of 7 hours/night of sleep. Well, I was used to 8 hours of sleep per night (or more…), so reducing 1 hour of sleep and starting the morning routine at the same time wasn’t a good plan. Result: I snoozed my alarm clock everyday… it was a complete disaster!
So I started again gradually. I started waking up 10 minutes earlier for 3 days, then 30 minutes until I reached my goal of sleeping only 7 hours/night (instead of 8). It worked pretty well, but it took me some months to get used to this new sleeping schedule.
Consolidation and meditation
The next goal was to include meditation in my morning routine. I had already started using mindfulness meditation occasionally on my most stressful days. But it was not a daily practice.
Inspired by the early-riser.com (it’s an old website but it has valuable info) and the book “The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)” by Hal Elrod, I’ve been testing some routines over the years. I now have to be at work at 8am so my best set until now is this:
- 05:20-5:30 — Waking up: Go to the bathroom, splash some water on my face, drink a glass of water, unroll my yoga mat and sit down.
- 05:30–6:05 — Excite: I do 7-10 min of core strengthening/abs exercises. I am using the app SWORKIT to create my series and stick with it. Then with the remaining time I do Yoga, which helps to strech and focus at the same time. I am using Down Dog to keep up with this daily yoga routine. It is working!
- 06:05–06:15 — Relax: meditation => I meditate for about 10-15 minutes. I like mindfuless meditation and the app 10% Happier is my go-to tool.
- 06:15–06:35 — Eat: breakfast => I have the same breakfast everyday with few variations. Be it eggs and/or bacon with some leafy greens or a smoothie with full fat yogurt, spinach, pineapples, blueberries or strawberries.
- 06:35–06:55 — Prepare: taking a bath and getting dressed: I always feel ready to go after a bath in the morning.
- 06:45–07:05 — Go: Brush hair and teeth, pack my lunch and snacks, grab cellphone, keys and leave. I prepare my lunch bag the evening before.
I wanted to introduce a time for reading in the morning. I tried! But it didn’t work very well because (now that may sound strange) I love reading! So I didn’t want to stop reading and that made feel a little frustrated in the morning. So I basically use my commute time inside the bus to read. And sometimes I can read for a few minutes during my lunch break. When I get home at night I also try to reserve at least half an hour to read before bed.
I feel that when I think about my plans for the next day right before I go to bed, I have a better chance of triggering my morning routine. My alarm sounds, I turn if off (and don’t hit the snooze) and I immediately get out of bed and the process start automatically. And on days like these, I feel I can save the world and life is good, you know?
On weekends I maintain roughly the same structure but I wake up 1 hour later, usually. I try to keep it simple and slow. My daily meditation practice has been steady for some time now and if I don’t meditate I feel like there’s something missing. It has become an essential part of my day.
And the exercise keeps me pain free. The combination of stabilizng core exercises and Yoga is being amazing! I used to have cronic back pain and I know now that if I skip the morning exercise I will suffer at night. And that is helping me keep the habit.