How to build an ideal morning routine

How to Build a Morning Routine That Is Ideal for You

Friends, I have a treat for you! Today we have a guest post from Katie Pozzuoli about how to build a morning routine. It’s truth talk time – I am NOT a morning person. However, the suggestions Katie presents are practical, individualized, and easy to start. My favorite thing is that she emphasizes doing what’s best for you, and she encourages us to give ourselves grace. Be encouraged – your morning can be fulfilling! I’m going to try to work some scripture time back into mine. đź’ś -L

Your Morning Routine

Do you want to create a morning routine, but feel stuck as to how to begin? Perhaps you have an ideal morning in your head: rise early, run five miles, spend an hour in prayer and bible study, shower and get ready for the day, eat a healthy breakfast. Or perhaps your ideal morning routine is more like: sleep as late as possible, drink a pot of coffee, speak to no one before noon.

One morning routine is not better than the other. Let me say that again: One morning routine is not better than the other.

Author Daniel Handler said, “Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.”

“The morning routine helps us set the tone for the day, better allowing us to control our schedules rather than our schedule controlling us.”

When you have a morning routine that works for you, it serves as a strong foundation for your day. Continue reading for tips about how to build your ideal morning routine.

Know Yourself

Before setting your alarm for 5 a.m. and running five miles, be honest with yourself about who you are and what you need. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I an early bird or a night owl? As a kindness to yourself, please be realistic about how you are wired. You can make some changes to your bedtime in order to rise earlier if that’s your goal. However, if you’re moving against your body’s natural rhythms, you need to start small and have grace for yourself. (More on both below.)
  • What time do my responsibilities for the day begin? When do you have to leave for work? What time do your children wake up? When does that first Zoom call begin?
  • What must be done in the morning? If you leave the house to work, a shower might be at the top of your list. Perhaps starting a load of laundry first thing in the morning makes maintaining your home easier. Maybe nothing matters more than a hot cup of coffee.
  • What do I want more of in my life? The Seven Dimensions of Wellness help us to think about our lives holistically. Perhaps you want to care better for your physical body, through movement or a nourishing meal. Maybe you want to spend time each morning nourishing your spirit by reading your bible and praying. Or maybe you are experiencing a lack of social connection. Could that be remedied by coffee with your spouse or a walk with a friend? When we can name what we need, then we can begin to direct our morning routine towards filling some of that need.

Accept Your Season

In addition to knowing yourself, it’s imperative that you accept your season – both the season of your life and the season of the year.

If you are in a new season, recognize that and accept that your season will influence your morning routine. A recent career change might mean a longer commute. If you’ve recently gotten married, you and your spouse are likely both getting ready in the morning, and you might have to adjust your routine. And if you’re a new mom, everything has changed, and you might need to prioritize sleep.

In addition to recognizing your season of life, it might be helpful to pay attention to the season of the year. I find that my energy and ability to rise early is very affected by the number of daylight hours. In the spring, summer, and early fall, I have a lot more energy and I naturally rise early. (In the summer, I can’t sleep past six because of the early sunrise!) However, in late fall and winter, I really struggle to get out of bed. Adjusting my wake time to half an hour later in the winter helps me feel better rested the entire day.

Start Small

No matter what your ideal morning routine is, please don’t set your alarm for 5 a.m. tomorrow and plan to do everything before you leave for work. Habits are best built by starting small.

If your ideal morning routine includes moving your body, eating a healthy breakfast, prayer, and bible study, but you currently wake up at 7:30 in order to leave your house by 7:50, then setting your alarm for 5 a.m. tomorrow is a sure recipe for disaster. You might maintain your 5 a.m. wake up for a few days, but you will soon burn out.

Instead, if you want to wake up earlier, consider setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual. Then, choose one area you want to focus on first – perhaps it’s a healthy breakfast. With your extra 15 minutes, you can fry an egg and toast a piece of bread.

Once you’ve solidified one part of your routine, you can consider adding another element. It will probably take somewhere between two and six weeks to build the first part of your routine. After that, push your waking time back by another 15 minutes. If you rise at 7 o’clock, you can read a psalm and pray before you make your breakfast.

Watch Out for These Common Pitfalls

I want you to build a morning routine that works for you, so there aren’t many universal rules that I would insist on. However, these are common pitfalls that will make building your morning routine more difficult.

Don’t assume your morning routine must look a certain way.

If you’re trying to emulate someone else’s routine just because you think you “should,” it will be hard to gain traction. Go back to the beginning – know yourself and give yourself permission to build the morning routine that you need.

Hitting snooze.

If you wake up with an alarm, get out of bed when it goes off; avoid the temptation to hit the snooze button. It’s less important that you wake up early and more important that you get out of bed when you plan to do so. Those extra nine minutes of sleep are likely to make you feel more groggy, not more well-rested. In addition, when you get out of bed with your alarm, you’re keeping a contract you made with yourself. That one small step can give you the confidence to know that you will be able to stick to the other commitments you’ve made with yourself.

Beware of the distractions of technology.

I use technology – and social media in particular – for my work; it’s a necessary tool. However, if I start my day by checking my email or scrolling Instagram, that’s a surefire way to derail my mental energy and my productivity. Consider if you might benefit from setting boundaries around your tech use, especially in the morning.

Going too big too soon.

It bears repeating. Starting small is the best way to build a sustainable morning routine. Momentum matters, but when we use our excitement and momentum to build something too big to maintain for the long haul, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and quit, which often leads to feeling worse about ourselves. (At least that’s been my experience as an Enneagram 1.)

Remember that your morning routine is here to serve you – not the other way around.

Building a morning routine is something you do to serve yourself and your life. Don’t become a slave to your morning routine. Rather, let it serve you. When it’s no longer serving you (which happens often when our season changes), be willing to revisit it and make the changes necessary.

Offer Yourself Grace

Any time we want to build a new habit in our life, it’s important to have grace with ourselves. We won’t do this perfectly. That’s okay. There’s room for trial and error. “Progress over perfection” is one of my mottoes.

As we build a morning routine that works for us, we can pray with the psalmist, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life” (Psalm 143:8).

Katie Pozzuoli is a writer helping women adopt sustainable practices of self-care to thrive. She has spent most of her adult life figuring out – with a lot of trial and error – how to be healthy in every area of her life. (And, as a constant work in progress, she’s still figuring it out!) Katie makes her home in Southeastern Ohio with her husband, three children, and their rescue pup. For a free self-care guide, sign up here. Follow Katie on Facebook and Instagram for practical self-care tips.

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