10 Morning Routine Habits to Jump-Start Your Day
Do you have a morning routine? If not, it might be time to fix that.
As we kick off the new year, it's the perfect time to start some brand-new daily habits (instead of resolutions). And guess what? You'll be surprised to know that many of the most successful people across all industries credit a regular morning routine as their key to a productive day.
Here are some things you can add to your own unique morning routine. Remember: This is just meant to be a starting point, so don’t feel like you need to do all of these things.
The goal is for you to pick three to five of the items below, mix and match and create a routine that makes the most sense for you and your life. You really don’t need to dedicate a ton of time to any of these each day. Even setting aside 10 minutes for each one can make a big difference in your life.
And give yourself a break, too. Developing your daily routine might require some experimentation and a bit of adjustment before you hit on your perfect set-up. Don’t be afraid to switch things up to ensure your routine is best suited to you.
Prep the Night Before
No matter what your daily routine looks like, preparing the night before is a great idea for everyone. Especially in the early stages, getting your ducks in a row the night before will help ensure that you kick off your day in the right way. Prep can take several different forms depending on what your routine looks like, but here are a few things that might help you get sorted:
1: Make sure you get a good night’s sleep each night.
2: Set your alarm for the following day.
3: If you plan to exercise, make sure your clothes are laid out (or even wear them to bed so you’re ready to jump up and go).
4: Set the timer on your coffee maker.
5: Keep your daily calendar, journal or any other needed items in a convenient pile for you to grab in the morn.
6: Make sure you have any apps downloaded that you might need.
7: Think about switching your schedule around. For example, if you're short on time in the morning, consider switching your shower schedule to the evening to allow more time for your morning routine.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a "meditation person," you might want to think about giving this daily habit a whirl. Those who make meditation a daily practice typically report an incredible difference in their level of calmness and overall outlook. If you have no experience with meditation, you might find it useful to use an app such as Headspace to help you begin to build your practice. It offers a series of guided meditations for you to listen to based on both the amount of time you have as well as what you’d like to focus on.
Exercise is something that many of us aim to tackle at some point in our day. But making it a part of your daily morning routine can help you turn it into a solid habit. Don’t get bogged down with the idea that you can’t exercise if you don’t belong to a gym or have a spare 60 minutes to devote. Exercise can mean something as simple as a walk around your neighborhood or 10 minutes devoted to an exercise routine on YouTube. Commit to a certain amount of time, and choose an activity that will keep you engaged and excited each day. (And don’t be afraid to switch things up either!)
Read a Little
As we continue to age, reading has been proven to help us keep our brains sharp if we do it regularly. If you’re required to read a lot for your job or for school, consider starting a morning routine that allows you to simply read for pleasure. You can either choose a designated amount of time to devote to your book, or choose to read a chapter or a certain number of pages each day. If you prefer to read the newspaper, you can set the timer on your phone for 30 minutes each morning and give yourself the space to quietly absorb the news of the day.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
For 16 years, Oprah Winfrey has been keeping a gratitude journal. Each day she writes down five things in her life that she is grateful for. She often credits this practice as the "single most important thing she’s ever done." Tracking what you're grateful for can often go a long way in helping you see the things in your life you should be grateful for, even on days when it seems like nothing is going your way. You can track your gratitude in a special dedicated journal, or simply write down your five things in the daily calendar that you keep.
Track Your Goals
The simple act of writing down your goals on paper each day can be incredibly powerful. In fact, studies have shown that you’re 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down. You can tackle your goals each day by simply writing down what you hope to achieve that day. Or you can keep things more broad and go over larger goals for the year, your career, your family or anything in between. For ongoing goals, you may want to also write them then display them somewhere where you’ll always see them.
Take Time for Self Care
Many of us spend way more time caring for others than we do for ourselves. In fact, the only way I’ve been successful remembering to take my daily medication is by taking it right after I give my dog his pills, because I never forget to give him his medication. If you’re someone who needs to make self-care a bigger part of your life, consider adding it to your morning routine. I’ve decided to focus on skincare over the past year, so I now dedicate at least 10 minutes each morning (and evening!) to taking care of my skin. Instead of just slapping on the creams and serums, I take time to light a candle in the bathroom, put on a podcast and really spend time on each step. Some other ideas might include: dry brushing, taking a quick bubble bath instead of a shower or simply putting your eye cream in the refrigerator for a cooling effect.
Focus on Your Pet
If your normal routine every morning is to let the dog out in the backyard for two minutes as you rush to get the kids fed and jump into a lightning-fast shower, you might want to think about carving out some dedicated time for your pup. In fact, you might even be able to combine this with some exercise if that's on your list, as well. Depending on how much time you have available, you could simply commit to taking a 20-minute walk around your neighborhood. Some other ideas include: going to the dog park, walking on a local hiking trail or spending 20 minutes throwing a ball back and forth at your local beach.
Another wonderful thing to add to your morning routine each day is the simple practice of being creative. This is something that might look different for everyone depending on what you’d like to focus on. If you’ve always wanted to be a writer, consider spending 20 minutes each day writing in your journal. If you're focused on photography, set aside 20 minutes each morning to go outside and photograph your surroundings. No matter what your creative pursuit is — knitting, painting, scrapbooking, collaging — you can set aside time each morning to honor your creative spirit.
Fine-Tune Your Calendar
Even for those of you who don’t like your day to be too structured, you'll likely find that your day is much more productive when you plan it out. If you’re looking to bring some general organization to your days, consider spending 10 minutes each morning carefully planning out your to-do list and assigning times and tasks. For example, you might dedicate 9-10 a.m. to administrative activities, such as answering emails and paying bills, but after a 15-minute break, you can tackle an important ongoing project. If you want to take things one step further, you can plan out your days based on the day of the week. For example, Mondays are administrative days, Tuesdays are project days, etc. Play around with your schedule until you figure out a game plan that works best for you, then really try to commit to it. You’ll quickly find that your days become so much more productive and satisfying.