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!).
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.
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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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).
- 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.
- 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?!).
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