I am not a morning person and if you are, I commend you. I’ve done the early rising thing and while I can make it work, I’ve found that an extra hour in the morning simply isn’t as productive as an extra hour in the evening. That being said, I do highly value my mornings and have found that there are certain things that help start me off on the right foot.
I still believe in the power of a relatively decision-free first hour each day, as I wrote about previously, but I’ve shifted away from time-intensive things in the morning. More recently, I’ve learned to embrace my midnight bedtime and in doing so focused on creating a morning routine that fit a few rules:
They meet the 80/20 rule
I learned about this concept from Timothy Ferriss, who believes that 80 percent of the results tend to come from 20 percent of the effort. If you can focus on doing more of the things that actually make the most impact, you can save time, energy and stay more consistent with your practice. Especially because I tend to have my thoughts and focus collected better in the evenings, the morning practice has to be to the point and effective.
They are accessible and consistent
I want to make sure that I will be able to do my morning routine more days than not. That means that there can’t be things that are difficult to locate, hard to get to, or require any special circumstances. It’s important to maintain consistency and the likelihood of success increases if the routine is designed within an appropriate environment.
They are positive and uplifting
Starting the morning in a positive way is a priority as it sets the stage for the rest of the day. While it does take effort and work to do anything consistently, I want to focus on the things that feel relatively effortless to do because they make me feel good, healthy, or overall strong.
After reading countless posts about, “How to become a morning person”, trying a 30-day challenge to wake up at 5 AM every day, it never seems to go well. I’ve enjoyed a few sunrises in my day, but I’ve found that I’m more of a sunset person. Why was I fighting so hard to be a morning person if everything about it went against what felt right to me? It was effortless for me to stay up later and later, while staying sharp and focused on whatever I was working on.
So if you’re looking for a simple routine that has high impact on the start of your day, here’s what I do.
Fully exhale while taking 10 deep breaths. I learned about this after watching a video about Wim Hof, often referred to as The Iceman. It’s basically a quick way to purge the carbon dioxide from your lungs and super-charge your blood oxygen levels first thing in the morning. This can help you feel more alert and is a great way to get a pre-coffee energy boost. You can use it as a quick meditation to channel some positivity and focused breaths first thing as well.
Glasses of water. I drink about two or three full glasses of water every single morning. I’ve read about the overwhelming health benefits and it makes sense that we’d need to replenish fluids after seven to nine hours of no intake. I prefer cold water, but I’ve also read about the benefits of room temperature or warm water. Drink as much water as you can (without going overboard) on an empty stomach and then wait 30 or more minutes to eat breakfast.
Half cups of coffee. There is mixed discussion about the health benefits of coffee and I won’t try to convince anyone one way or there other here. I really enjoy coffee and tend to drink up to two cups of coffee per day, one half cup at a time. Doing so evens out the caffeine intake where I don’t ever feel overly jittery but maintain a nice focus for the morning and early afternoon. I used to drink a big coffee in the morning until I realized how much better it is to reduce the amounts and spread them out over time.
Let the pup out of his crate. Two weeks ago we got a new puppy named Rocky, he sleeps in his crate (he loves it) so I wake him up each morning. We take a nice (chilly) stroll in the back yard and stretch our legs and play a bit after he takes care of his business in the yard. This is only recently a part of my morning routine, but Rocky has really added some fun into my life. He’s not quite a minimalist pup yet, still figuring out which of his toys he wants to keep, but he’s getting there.
Light breakfast. I’m never very hungry in the morning so I like to eat a light breakfast followed by a slightly bigger lunch. I enjoy avocados, banana with peanut butter, sometimes a few eggs, and other simple combinations for breakfast. I usually want at least 30 minutes after drinking my morning water and doing my morning reading.
While these might seem pretty straight-forward, I’ve found that they provide a strong foundation for the rest of my day. So much of the momentum of the day comes from how it starts, so as long as I feel good about my process after waking up it usually helps keep things going.
I’d love to know what you practice in your morning routine and what you might add to help you start your day on the right foot.