My morning routine has drastically changed since I left the workforce 6 months ago. I had a couple of months that I struggled to find my rhythm in the morning. I was used to a very strict schedule of when to get up and when to leave the house to take the train. When you throw that all away, at first I was thrilled at the freedom of not having any set times to do things. However, I found that having some sort of structure makes me not only more productive but overall just feel better. I get really hard on myself if I think I am getting “lazy” at all. I am happiest when I feel that I got tons accomplished in a given day. So a more set routine really did help me. Looking back, I see things that I could have done in the mornings that would have helped when I was still working. This is a sample of an average day during the week. Honestly, weekends we use for staying up late and sleeping in. There is really no set routine for our weekends anymore.
Monday through Friday typical morning routine:
- Avoid harsh overhead lights = I either open blinds or use a floor lamp with some soft LED bulbs. I find that immediately turning on the bright overhead lights in the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom when first waking up is way too harsh. I like to ease from a completely dark bedroom with the blackout shades to a more middle ground for lighting. Then after some coffee/breakfast, I turn on other lights to start the day.
- Avoid electronics = I used to run to my cell phone immediately when I woke up. I wanted to check emails, see if there were additional meetings on the calendar, etc. Not only was this bad for my eyes, it was too alarming to my system to start off the day in that manner. I went from a restful sleep to immersing myself in stress. Since there always seemed to be some email or meeting that caused some upset. Now I do not even have my electronics in the bedroom anymore. I have them in a charging station in the hallway and leave them on mute/silent mode when I am sleeping. I do not look at text messages or any emails until much later in the morning.
- Set a calm environment = This depends on what you like or what makes you happy. I love listening to music and diffusing my favorite essential oil scents. They just make me happy and makes me ready to start my day. I especially like to use either peppermint or spearmint mixed with a citrus scent since it opens up my sinuses and energizes me.
- Early start = I do wake up at the time that I used to for work since I get up to help my husband with his morning. I will make coffee and breakfast for him and make sure his lunch is packed. Depending on the weather, this would include setting out a coat, etc. Overall just making his morning a little less hectic so his day is better. Plus just spending some extra time together is always nice. Often I will just stay up and start my day. There are some times (just being honest) that I require more sleep and I will go back to bed for about 2 hours.
- Eat breakfast and drink water = I am sometimes not in the mood for a very heavy breakfast but I will grab either some fruit or a yogurt with my coffee. Something to give me a little bit of energy in order to start my day. This is especially important on the mornings that I have kickboxing. I could never do that class on a completely empty stomach. I also drink at least one glass of water with lemon.
- Start with a clean slate = I make the bed and wipe down the kitchen countertops. I also do other items like a quick vacuum (love my cordless Dyson) by the entryway and kitchen area and empty the dehumidifier. I will also just see if there is anything else that is out of place and put it away. This just sets the tone for the house for my entire day. It just makes me feel good to start off with a tidy home. This is very helpful when I am coming home with groceries or cooking a meal since the kitchen is already neat and there is nothing on the counter to knock over and break. Plus the counter is disinfected and ready to be used for food prep.
- Exercise = I will either attend kickboxing or just take a walk, do some yoga or weights at home. I basically set aside some time just to focus on me and my health. This is never more than 1 hour and it not only gives me energy to use throughout the day, it also puts me in a great mood.
- Feel accomplished with “easy” tasks = I will start a load of laundry and also put away the dishes from the dishwasher which ran the previous night. I enjoy this because it makes me feel like I can check things off my list right away.
- Do the least favorite thing first = I will review my list of errands and tasks (cooking, cleaning, de-cluttering, organizing) and figure out what I need to do for the remainder of the day. I make a priority list since sometimes I underestimate how long a task will actually take me. I start off with my least favorite (like cleaning the shower). The rest of the day I tackle one thing at a time. If something does not get done, it moves to the next day. The key is not putting pressure on myself to get 10 things done in a given day when really only 8 is humanly possible. I still use my paper planner and find it helpful to keep track of my day.
- Be thankful = I have to admit that I used to live for my weekends. I would despise Sunday nights since I knew I would have to get right back into it again. Now each morning I take a deep breath and feel thankful. I think starting the day with gratitude can be very powerful. I know this is getting a little touchy-feely and emotional but I truly believe that trying your best each day matters. Being happy for what you have matters. Looking on the bright side and staying as positive as possible does help. I think it is very easy to get into a funk and be in a sad state. Instead of saying “Oh man, I have to do all of this cr@p today, I am just staying in bed.” I now say “I am going to make the best of this day. If I get done early I will do something I enjoy like watch a TV show, read my book or color.” This mind shift in my morning has been powerful. I get through the tasks I dislike early and move past them. I find that this not only has impacted me personally, but also has been a positive impact on my relationships with others.
Does your morning routine need a refresh? Can you add or remove something to make it better? Just taking a moment to think through it, you might be able to find some time-savers like setting up things the night before.