HOW I’M BECOMING A MORNING PERSON

One of the things I’ve been focused on since returning from our honeymoon two weeks ago is getting myself onto a good schedule — not just recovering from jet lag, but actually creating a morning routine more effective than the one I had before we left. I feel a little silly talking about this because I have friends who have children they need to create schedules for and here I am talking about making one for myself, but the truth is that in six years of working for myself, I’d gotten a little lax about waking up early and seizing the day. Will also has a tendency to work long hours, so over time I’d conformed to his late nights and gotten into the habit of going to bed later and subsequently waking up later.

But over our honeymoon we read The Miracle Morning and it made me realize I’d feel a whole lot better about my schedule if I were waking up earlier and going to bed earlier, even if it meant Will and I would spend more quality time together in the mornings than at night. I got the book recommendation from my blogger friend Kelly and found myself typing notes into my iPhone during our trip. The takeaways from the book are almost laughably simple, but they’re not so easy to implement in real life (at least for me!).

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Here are a few things the author recommends for making early mornings easier for yourself:

  • Before getting into bed at night, create genuine excitement for the next morning. I honestly find myself excited about waking up, doing my new routine, and taking the day by storm, which is a massive improvement over wanting to hit the snooze button and waking up feeling like I’m already behind.
  • Place your alarm clock (iPhone) across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. This little bit of movement creates more energy to start your day.
  • Immediately brush your teeth, drink a full glass of water, and either put on workout clothes or jump in the shower.

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The morning routine I mentioned above is one I’ll continue customizing until I find the right timing for me, but here are the six steps the book outlines for starting your day on the right foot and for making self-improvement an ongoing priority in your life.

  1. Silence. Whether it’s praying, meditating, or just deep breathing, this step creates a sense of calm and can result in clarity and optimism. This is honestly the step I have the hardest time with, even though I don’t doubt it’d be extremely beneficial for me to turn my mind off. If you have any advice when it comes to meditation, I’d love to hear it!
  2. Affirmations. This part of the book was such a lightning moment for me. Will might kill me for sharing this, but I’ve long teased him for things like stepping out of the shower and exclaiming, “Okay, great!” or getting out of bed and immediately saying, “It’s going to be a great day, don’t you think?” I used to think it was because he’s an only child and used to talking to himself, but now I realize he was giving himself all kinds of verbal affirmations throughout his day without even knowing it. While I’m not quite on Will’s level, I have written down a few statements (that I’ll repeat either out loud or in my head) about what I want to accomplish to instill confidence and set a productive tone for the day.
  3. Visualization. The author uses the example of the actor Jim Carrey writing himself a $10 million check for “acting services rendered” years before actually earning that amount, because seeing the check in real life made him believe it was possible that he could actually command that sum. I’ve created a folder of inspiring images and quotes on my laptop that I scroll through for a couple minutes each morning — it’s definitely a motivating way to kick off the work day!
  4. Exercise. This quote kind of smacked me over the head when I read it — it should be obvious but I’d really never thought of it in these terms. The author refers to a quote that reads along the lines of, “If you don’t make time for exercise, you’ll probably have to make time for illness.” Is that a wow moment for anyone else? The next time I’m hesitating on working out, I hope I think to ask myself, would you rather work out or would you rather get sick? It’s a brilliant reframing tactic. In any event, the author recommends working out for 20 minutes as part of this ideal morning routine, but since I’m in a good groove taking fitness classes with my mom in the afternoons, I either take Rory on a walk or just do 50 jumping jacks to get my heart rate up (which looks as silly as it sounds, particularly considering that this has all been happening at or before sunrise).
  5. Reading. The author then recommends 20 minutes of reading, which doesn’t sound like much except that it’s way more than I usually manage to cram into my day (especially when I’m tired and try to read at night). You all know how much I love a good self-help book, and reading a chapter or two first thing in the morning is one of my new favorite habits.
  6. Scribing. So far I’ve been keeping a digital journal (literally in a Word document on my desktop… I love the idea of a paper journal but I get frustrated because I can’t write as fast as I type) and writing mostly about my efforts to adjust to this new morning routine: failures (sometimes the snooze button still gets the best of me, usually if I went to bed too late the night before), successes (I managed to get through a full Headspace meditation today! I finished another book!), and frustrations (seriously, how is being silent and still for five minutes such a challenge?!).

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The book recommends waking up a full hour earlier than you’re used to and spending five minutes on the first three steps, twenty minutes on exercise and reading, and five minutes on the last step. I’ve been challenging myself to wake up at 5:30 a.m. (with mixed results so far — this is about me becoming a morning person, not how I’ve already become one!) and taking closer to 30 minutes to go through the six steps (since I exercise in the afternoon and tend to get through the affirmations/visualizations a little faster than 5 minutes each).

Maybe this all seems super obvious to you — I can hear someone saying “of course you’ll be more productive if you read more, exercise more, and wake up earlier to do it!” — and I’m sure some of you are already morning people because of work, kids, etc. But for those of you who, like me, struggle with staying up way too late and then wanting to kick yourself for it the following day, having a set of super clear steps to follow is a huge help and gives me a sense of purpose right when I wake up and before I jump into work for the day.

I’d love to hear from any of you who are reading the book or incorporating some of these ideas into your own morning routines! And if you’re interested in learning more, the book is an easy read (180 pages or less than five hours on Audible) and full of anecdotal evidence for why this stuff works. I’ll caveat by saying that the subtitle of the book is at least partially untrue (some of the “secrets” are rather obvious) and that the author was a little too self-promotional at times for my liking (“find more at this Facebook URL”), but again it’s inspired me to make a few real adjustments in my morning that I’m feeling pretty excited about. Are you a morning person? Have you read the book? Are you already doing some of these steps (like Will was!)? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

*images from this post

29 thoughts on “HOW I’M BECOMING A MORNING PERSON

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  1. I love it. I have to say I’ve been thinking about it too. I would add giving yourself a 8 hour window to achieve sleep is so important. Also for those mother’s of young children, give yourself grace. You might not be able to achieve ANY routine for awhile but fear not if you can get your baby/toddler on a nice sleep/wake schedule, you will reclaim your morning time eventually. I think 6am is a better goal for me, unless I can get myself to sleep by 9pm. SLEEP is critical to longevity and health so I won’t give that up! Maybe I CAN get to bed at 9pm! I’ll try it for a month and see.

  2. I’m really enjoying following your process to becoming a morning person. I would say that I’m lucky because I can function with early mornings and late nights but I’m really trying to make getting up and being productive in the early morning part of my routine. Thank you for the recommendation of the Miracle Morning!!
    I have also just started using Headspace!! Good Luck to you…I hope I manage to keep it up as well!

    Have a good day!

  3. I hit snooze way too often! I am going to try some of these – I love the reading for 20 minutes in the morning. I always get distracted by the TV & my phone at night and never get enough reading in.

    I have been loving the 5 minute journal lately. You use it each morning and night to write down what made the day great, what could have made it better, what you are grateful for and your mantra for the day.

    1. If I wake up at 5:30, I’m desperate for bed by 9:00 or 9:30 at the latest. I’m sure my body will get used to it over time but for now I’m making early bedtime a top priority (at least on weeknights!).

  4. I just downloaded The Miracle Morning! I have a HARD TIME waking up every day, no matter how early I go to sleep – I’m just one of those people who requires a lot of sleep and sleeps very deeply. I know when I get up early that I perform at my best, but it’s just so hard for me to wake up and get moving. I can’t wait to dive into this book and hopefully create a morning routine similar to yours. Thanks for the great post!

  5. Definitely try the headspace app – I love it for meditation! I also love walking my dog in the morning before life gets busy and people are awake and I find this is a form of meditation for me as well 🙂

      1. I definitely think it does! it’s a bit of quiet time to myself and I just try to relax and be in the moment rather than think about what I need to do that day or anything like that. It definitely leaves me with the same feeling that I get from the Headspace app.

  6. I just read The Miracle Morning last week, and I totally agree with your critiques! Great takeaways but a little hokey/self-promotional at times. The thing that really got to me was when he talked about how whenever you hit snooze over and over again (guilty), you’re delaying your life and putting out really negative energy into the world…essentially saying I’d rather sleep than live my life. Talk about convicting!

    1. That’s definitely something that stuck with me as well. Once I got past the sales-y tone of the book, I really did find a few nuggets of wisdom that have stuck with me over the past few weeks!

  7. Thank you for sharing as you are working on it; I find that so encouraging! I too am working on becoming a morning person, too, and while it is hard (especially now that it is staying darker later in the morning!) I love that an intentional, non-rushed morning sets a good tone for the rest of the day.

    1. I so hear you on how hard it is to wake up when it’s still dark! But then there’s nothing better than watching the sun rise after I’ve already accomplished exercise/reading/a little work. We can do this!!! 🙂

  8. Hi Mackenzie! Have you read Gretchen Rubin’s books, Better than Before or The Four Tendencies? I think you would find them really interesting, as a fellow self-help lover. And I bet the strategies in them would help you stick with your new morning routine!

    I moved a few months ago and started working remotely/from home for my job and used the switch as a good opportunity to establish a better morning routine. I now take some time to sit in silence, read the day’s mass readings, and journal while I eat breakfast, which has been SO helpful. My fiance and I have also just begun trying to do the 7 minute workout in the mornings together; I’d like to get in the habit of repeating it 2-3 times. I’d also love to fit more reading for pleasure in in the morning!

    1. I enjoyed The Happiness Project and found Happier at Home a little redundant, but I’ll definitely look into these two newer titles! Thank you for the recommendations!

      I love that you and your fiancé do a seven-minute workout together in the mornings. I’m totally going to suggest that to Will! 🙂

  9. I haven’t read that book yet so thank you for listing out some of the key points that have helped you! I’ve been following a similar routine of meditation, yoga and journaling in a 7-day challenge this week, each day focusing on a different “chakra” which is new for me even though I do yoga most mornings. It’s been such a great way to start the day. I’ve always been a morning person, but even though I was up earlier than most and felt more productive, I wasn’t utilizing these morning hours to the best of my ability until I started implementing these routines, which help keep me centered through the rest of the day. A book you might like that I’ve been making my way through is Tim Ferriss’ “Tools of Titans”. It’s like an encyclopedia of hundreds of successful people he’s interviewed over the years and their best recommendations, tips, routines, etc. He found that a common thread amongst most was that they all wake up early and meditate or have a mindful practice. So interesting!

  10. I haven’t read the book but have been trying to change my mornings and a lot of what you wrote about resonated with me. I use the Kiwake app to force myself out of bed, which I’d recommend as an alternative to putting the phone across the room (way too easy for me to hit snooze!).

    I’m currently trying to get into a routine of getting up, putting on workout clothes & getting a morning workout in before the kids wake up/ I go to work. I’m on week 2, but it’s great to start off my day with it done and then have evenings to relax!

    1. That app looks amazing! I hadn’t heard of it before but it seems like a great way to wake up your brain fast. Your new routine sounds amazing — I’m always so in awe of productive mamas!