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Your Morning Routine: The Linchpin of A Productive Day

Creating a successful morning routine can be the single most effective thing you can do for greater productivity and focus throughout your day. There are many ways to design a morning routine and if you get too complex, it can end up sucking up hours of your day. Keep it simple by following these principles:

Decide how much time you want to spend in the mornings on your routine. You can design a routine that encompasses several important habits, but first you need to know how much time you have to work with. If you are expecting yourself to get in a workout, meditation, goal-setting and breakfast in 15 minutes it’s not going to work. If you are working from home, you may feel like you have extra time to get everything in, but if you don’t establish a routine for doing so the time can just slip away. I spend about 90 minutes on my morning routine.

Define what is most important to you. When establishing a morning routine, there are certain things you must factor in - making the bed, feeding the animals, attending to children, dealing with weather issues, etc. Be sure to make time and space for these tasks. Beyond that, it’s important to make time and space for things that personally set you up for success. There are two keys to getting ready for a productive day - preparing your body and preparing your mind.

Get your body pumped

  1. Drink water. Drink at least 20 ounces of water before drinking anything else. Most people do not drink enough water throughout the day and dehydration reduces your ability to fight off infection and reduces mental clarity and focus. You need to drink water throughout the day for your overall health so be sure to keep water next you as you work.

  2. Work out. Work out for at least 20 minutes. If you don’t have a normal workout routine, establish one. Don’t make it a big deal - just focus on movement, stretching and getting your blood flowing for 20 minutes. You can start with walking and light stretching afterward and then evolve it into whatever suits you later. Studies show many benefits to working out in the morning including more energy, productivity, focus and a better mood throughout the day. I like to do a combination of running/walking followed by yoga.

  3. Eat well. There is so much conflicting data out there so I’m not going to stake a claim on what the right food and breakfast time is for everyone. The point is, find out what is best for you. For me, I do best when I have a balanced meal that contains protein, fat, a non-wheat based carb and some vegetables. This usually means 3 eggs cooked in ghee, ½ cup of rice and leafy greens topped with amino acids in a bowl. I eat after exercise.

Get your head in the game

  1. Meditate. You may have a meditation practice already in place - which is great! If you don’t, this can be as simple as spending 2 minutes noticing your breath. This type of mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce stress and improve general well-being and positive thinking.

  2. Define your top 3 goals for the day. Once you know what they are, spend 3-5 minutes visualizing yourself successfully completing those outcomes. This not only helps you to focus on what will really move the needle, it also gets your subconscious mind involved by creating a mental picture of success.

  3. Attend to your mindset. There are a few positive emotions that can make a big difference in your day, especially when you generate them in the morning. Gratitude and inspiration are two of the top. Spend 1-2 minutes writing down three things you feel grateful for. It’s easy to go through the motions on this one, so spend the bulk of that time actually accessing and magnifying the feeling of gratitude. Accessing inspiration can be as simple as spending 1-2 minutes reading and contemplating an inspirational quote. If you want to spend more time on this, read a few pages of an inspirational book or listen to some inspirational music and then journal on whatever comes from that feeling.

Keep it simple. If you are establishing a morning routine for the first time, it may be better to simply begin with one thing - like working out. Once you have momentum on one thing, you can add one more thing. Set yourself up for success by focusing on building one habit at a time.

Get up on time. Hitting snooze on the alarm clock isn't going to help you establish a morning routine. Not to mention it has an adverse effect on your whole day.

Be consistent. A routine is a fixed program of actions regularly followed. “Regularly followed” being the operative concept here. The good news? The more regularly you follow it, the easier it becomes to follow it. This is the basic idea behind building habits. It takes time but the payoff is that once it takes root, it operates without you having to think about it.

Set your morning routine up for success with an evening routine. Yes, they work together. There is no way you will have time for your morning routine if you are going to bed later than normal or sleeping poorly. Here is a simple evening routine that will bolster your morning routine.

  1. Turn off screens at least 30 minutes before turning out the lights. It also helps to set your devices on “dark mode” in the evenings. This is a great time to do the following steps.

  2. Pick up clutter. This simple practice makes a huge difference on how your environment feels upon waking the next day. Research shows that clutter reduces your ability to focus and think clearly.

  3. Prep for the next day. Prepare coffee and lunches, etc. the night before. This will allow you to spend more time on your self-care in the morning.

  4. Set out what you need for your morning routine before going to bed. This might include workout clothes, journal, inspirational book you are reading, etc.

  5. Go to bed at a set time. Going to be at the same time every night allows your body to sink into its circadian rhythm. This promotes better sleep. It also makes it easier to get up on time.

  6. Spend a few minutes on mindset or mindfulness before falling asleep. There are various ways to do this. 1) Visualization: Visualize completing a big goal you are going for or showing up they way you are want to show up in life or work - make it as real as you can by imagining the feeling you would have, the things and people around you, etc. 2) Affirmations: Repeat positive affirmations that you feel emotionally connected to 3) Identify the top 3 outcomes you want to achieve for the next day and commit to doing what it takes to achieve them 4) Just pay attention to your breath for a few minutes - this is especially effective for those who tend to have trouble sleeping due to anxiety or rumination.

Creating a morning routine may seem fairly obvious but don't underestimate what it can do for your productivity, focus and clarity. Starting your day right improves your mood, creates momentum and reduces stress. Get started today!

Example Routines:

Well rounded 50-75 minute Morning Routine:

  • Drink 20 oz of water upon waking (1 minute)

  • Work out & stretch (20 minutes)

  • Make & eat breakfast (20 minutes)

  • Meditate (2-5 minutes)

  • Define your top 3 goals for the day and visualize success (2-5 minutes)

  • Generate and magnify gratitude (2-5 minutes)

  • Read or listen to something inspiring (2-10 minutes)

  • Journal (2-10 minutes)

Simple, beginning 35-45 minute Morning Routine:

  • Drink 20 oz of water upon waking (1 minute)

  • Work out/stretch (10-20 minutes)

  • Make & eat breakfast (20 minutes)

  • Define your top 3 goals for the day and visualize success (3 minutes)

  • Notice your breath (1 minute) before launching into your day

Simple 30 minute Evening Routine:

  • Turn off screens 30 minutes before going to bed

  • Pick up clutter (10 minutes)

  • Prep for the next day (15 minutes)

  • Set out what you need for your morning routine (5 minutes)

  • Spend a few minutes on mindfulness and/or mindset before drifting off to sleep (2-5 minutes)

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