Good morning Starshine, the Earth says hello!
Hearing this first thing in the morning is hell for some people.
You know them, maybe you’re even one of them, the grumpy-lidded morning hater, quilt pulled to chin as though allergic to morning itself.
My sister is one of those people and so is my mum. Well…my mum likes mornings, but only in peace and quiet. Speak to her before she’s finished her brew and you’ll get little more than a grunt in response.
I used to love watching her from the couch as a kid. She’d stand in her oversized dressing gown, half inside-half outside the house, enjoying her first cigarette of the day.
I, on the other hand, have always liked mornings and I still do. I love the energy that I have, the sound of birds and the freshness of the day.
As it turns out, you can love mornings and still not really do much with them. I’d usually show mornings my love by snoozing past my alarms until I have 20 minutes to make lunch, pack my bag and get ready before leaving for work at 7:55 am. Sound familiar?
This was my routine up until a few months ago. It was very ‘headless chicken’ and even though I mostly managed and usually didn’t forget stuff, I wanted a change. I wanted to do more with my mornings.
Now that I’m pretty set with my morning routine, I want to tell you what it usually looks like. I’ve become so interested in motivation, productivity and just generally self-work lately, I’m hoping to write more about it in the future!
The goal of this routine was to give myself more time in the morning. While that seems unnecessary right now, with most of us having nothing but time thanks to the coronavirus, I can guarantee you it’s more important than ever.
Even if you no longer need to get ready for work, or at least ready in the same way, the way you kick off your morning is important for so much more than that.
I wanted a morning routine to make the morning a part of the day, rather than just ‘getting ready for work’ time. I’d recommend this for anyone wanting to get a bit more control over their mornings, time and mood. And in a time where there’s so much out of your control, it’s a nice bit of stability.
That said, this routine might not be your perfect fit. I mean, I live alone which removes a lot of distractions that someone living with roommates, partners or kids have to face. But give it a read and I’m sure you’ll find something to upgrade your morning!
6am- Wake Up!
Easy one! Maybe.
When I call my Illinoisian Legolas and ask about her day she recaps, always starting with ‘I woke up’. We joked about this at first, like of course, you woke up, it’s so obvious! But it’s a pretty important thing to do, right? And it turns out that there are some things you can do to make sure you’re getting up on the right side of the bed.
The big one is making sure you got enough sleep the night before- that age-old tale of getting to bed on time. Aimless scrolling till 2am isn’t time well spent and your villagers in Animal Crossing can wait.
Set yourself a time that you want to wake up and count back seven or eight hours to find when you should get to bed. I have two alarms, one to wake me up at 6:00 and one to get me up at 6:15.
Tip: set your first alarm on an analogue clock in your room and your second alarm on your phone outside of your room. That way, you’re not distracted by your phone at night and have to get out of the bed to turn the alarm off in the morning.
Another important tip is to plan out your morning the night before. Deciding what you’re going to do beforehand lets you feel excited for those things, meaning you’ll leap out of bed as fresh as a daisy!
6:05am- Drink Water
Drinking water first thing in the morning turns out to be an easy, effective way to wake yourself up. I have my water bottle filled up and waiting by my bed ready for when I wake up. It gets the body moving and waking up from the inside out!
To wake you up even faster, or if you think water tastes boring- throw in some lemon.
An added bonus to drinking water first thing is that you can kick off your water goals straight away. It’s important to try and drink two litres of water a day, not only for general health but also to boost metabolism and help with weight loss! Contigo has all the info!
6:20am- Morning Walk
This is the highlight of my morning routine. Throwing a coat over my jammies, or trackies if I’m feeling fancy, I head straight out after drinking some water.
The fresh morning air, with nobody around, lets me uniquely appreciate my surroundings. It lets me just be in the present, enjoy where I am and get myself excited for the day ahead.
Tip: When you’re kicking off this habit, make sure to set rewards! Choose a beautiful walking route or cross the walk off on a daily to-do list, anything is good. My reward is my ‘morning walk gallery’ – the colour of the sky is never the same early in the morning and I love to capture that in pictures!
For people who don’t really fancy walking, try stretches instead or a short ten-minute workout or even dancing round to a morning motivation playlist- anything that gets your body moving around is good. I usually walk for 10-20 minutes.
6:25am- Catch ups
Mornings allow you the rare opportunity to find stillness and sanctuary with yourself. That said, it doesn’t mean that you have to spend the whole morning completely alone. That usually isn’t possible anyway if you live with other people.
For me, living in Japan means that speaking to important people in the UK and US can be difficult with the time difference (daylight savings is a mess). So, while I’m out on my walk I call friends for a quick catch-up. Ten minutes is all it takes to keep up-to-date and in touch.
For you, give some of your morning to spend actual quality time with important people. Have a brew with a loved one and give them your full attention or call/voice note a friend to check in with them. It’ll help to grow and maintain those relationships as well as fight off feelings of loneliness.
6:40am- Eat a HEALTHY breakfast
We’ve been told this since we were like three years old but I continued to ignore until a few months ago. Since being a teenager, it seemed cool to me to not have breakfast. I guess I thought it would help me lose weight; which it would have if skipping breakfast didn’t leave me hungry and on the scout for literally anything unhealthy and full of sugar one hour later.
This part of my morning routine was one of the hardest to implement, I’d only recently got myself eating breakfast (the not-so-healthy croissants or chocolate bread) when I decided that all that sugar first thing in the morning probably wasn’t helping me out.
Right now my usual brekkie is a banana, strawberry yoghurt and green tea. I have the green tea without sugar and it’s a really healthy, natural way to wake up my groggy little head.
6:50am- Morning Pages
From the great Amy Landino, the Queen of productivity comes “Morning Pages”.
I am in love with Amy Landino, her videos really helped me motivate myself to implement the morning routine that I’d wanted to try for a long time. I would recommend her channel to anyone looking to get more out of their time.
The Morning Pages idea originally comes from Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way and is just one of the methods used by Amy to ensure a productive morning. Cameron suggests writing three pages every morning, stream-of-consciousness style. Getting everything from your head onto paper, good and bad, works well to get those cogs turning.
You’ll find yourself writing about a crazy dream you had, reflecting on the day before, a plan for a novel, goals for the day… don’t think too much about it, just write. The Morning Pages are good for clearing your head and they have the added bonus of sometimes documenting ideas and goals that you’d normally forget about.
7:15am- Get Ready
After I’ve gotten all my health and mindfulness stuff out of the way, I still have around 45 minutes to get ready.
I’ll do my skincare routine, take my time choosing an outfit, get my lunch together and usually have time to do some cleaning before setting off.
Getting those things that I’d usually put off out of the way so early really helps to keep me motivated throughout the day. It’s a lot easier when half the work’s already been done. I’ve kept my routine through the weekends too, allowing myself a lie-in of course!
Even on those days where I don’t have to be up, or do anything, starting off on the right foot has a big impact on the rest of my day.
Honestly, my morning routine is still in the early stages and there are quite a few changes I still have to make.
One of these changes is to write my morning pages first thing in the morning, straight after I drink some water. I want the time to reflect on my own thoughts before everyone else’s opinions and status updates squish them out.
Another change is to upgrade my breakfast. Eventually swapping out the strawberry yoghurt for plain, vegan yoghurt (good luck with that in rural Japan) and adding granola, for longer-lasting energy.
My third change is my wake up time. Ideally, I want to be waking up at 5:30am which means knocking back my sleeping time to 10:30 pm… am I ready to be that person? I guess so if I want to be productive!
At a time when routine seems out the window for most people, I would argue that this is the most important time to keep some structure in your life. While you might not be required to wake up at a certain time any more, you have all this time you don’t usually have- make the most of it and make it your time.
I’ve come to realise how important mornings are. It isn’t just about waking up on the right side of the bed. How you start your day frames your mindset, influencing how you’ll do and react to things throughout the day. So look at your usual mornings, what does it look like? Morning lover? Night owl? What’s one thing you want to change about your morning?
For more information and inspiration:
Amy Landino: YouTube Channel
Julia Cameron: “The Artist’s Way” ~ Morning Pages
“The Importance of a Morning Routine”, by Medium
“Morning Routines of Successful Women”, by Career Girl Daily
“Why Drinking Water Increases Your Metabolism“, By Contigo