The morning routine can look very different depending on who you talk to. Sometimes it can look harried and scattered, while sometimes it can be peaceful and serene. Regardless of what each person’s morning routine looks like, one thing can probably be agreed upon: how our days begin can really set the tone for the rest of our waking hours.
I don’t know if I ever considered myself a “morning person” but somewhere along the line, I realized that if I do certain things in the morning, I actually do them on a daily basis. If I don’t prioritize them first thing, they may never become a part of the daily “to dos”.
Although I didn’t really expect this change, a regular morning routine has provided me with a level of groundedness I never experienced before. So after months (if not years) of trial and error, I humbly present to you four tips (and a bonus) I have learned to master your own morning routine!
Are there things that you do every morning that could be done the evening before so that you have a little extra time? Picking out clothes, preparing a lunch, packing a gym bag or setting the coffee timer may all be things that you could do the evening prior so that none of those things need completed in the morning. Morning time is precious (and every moment counts!) so spending it on these tasks may not really be the best use of your time.
If your morning routine changes depending on your work schedule or responsibilities, create a basic plan of your top priorities the night before. This way you don’t need to think about making those choices those first waking minutes. For example, sometimes the night before I pick out what guided meditation practice I’m going to listen to because I often found myself wasting time scrolling through all the choices each morning. By taking care of making choices the night before, you can be on semi-autopilot when you wake up but still be productive and start your day off in a positive way!
Sleep is essential to actually getting a morning routine started and established. Everyone requires a different amount of sleep and rarely do all of us get it, but it’s so important. Most of us need about 7-8 hours, so count backwards from when you would like to get up and do your best to get to sleep around that time. One helpful tool to a better night’s sleep is to create a no-device time about 1-2 hours before you would like to be sleeping.
Create some routines in the evening that support winding down: read a book, listen to some relaxing music, don’t eat too close to bedtime, etc. By creating a routine for a better night’s sleep, you will set yourself up for a better chance of success following through with getting up in the morning.
How much time can you really spend on the routine given the time you have in the morning and how much sleep you decided you need? During the school year, my morning routine does not take as much time as my summer routine. However, I do have certain things that I try to fit in each morning, just with varying levels of time. For example, my basic morning routine is a little meditation, a little journaling, and a little movement. These things are consistent, but they change in importance and duration depending on the time of year.
What I have found is creating a consistent routine is the most important part, it’s been more beneficial for me to do a two minute mindfulness practice each day for a week rather than shrug it off and say I don’t have time for ten minutes each day. I like to call it “building morning muscle memory”. If I only start building the muscle when I have a lot of time I may never start (or I’ll be really out of shape in the beginning and less likely to stick with it). If I’ve built morning muscle memory a few minutes a day over a longer duration, perhaps it will be easier to extend and build when I get more time.
Focus on what is important to you and what you need. My morning routine has gone through many iterations over the years. Experiment and have fun with discovering what an ideal morning routine looks like for you. Maybe your goal is not to rush around each morning and simply getting up (and going to bed) a few minutes earlier may be all the change you need. Perhaps getting outside before going to work is important and you want to do a morning workout. This is absolutely all possible, it’s really just up to you.
And remember, your ideal and your reality may look different at times. Try a routine out for a few weeks and reevaluate what is working and what isn’t. Remember to not just look at what happens in the morning, but everything else that goes along with it (like evening preparation and sleep).
Yes, it’s sure to be an intrinsic reward to take some time for yourself each morning but it never hurts to give yourself a more immediate reward for fulfilling your morning routine goals. Maybe it’s a new journal after a few weeks of consistent writing or a daily cup of coffee. Again, only you know how to reward yourself best. So create a routine and when you stick to it, treat yourself!
Hopefully these morning routine hacks will help you create a routine that will stay with you through all facets of your life and support your well-being in both the classroom and beyond. Do you have any morning routine hacks? Please join the conversation and at your voice over at We are Teaching Well.