Benefits of a Morning Routine

Morning routine

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Does your current morning routine consist of hitting the snooze button four times and walking out the door five minutes later as you put on your shoes and eat a protein bar, all while checking email on your phone? From that point on, our entire day can feel like we're always trying to rush and catch up, never really feeling on top of our game or very productive. We can do better!

Many of us are busy, have a lot of responsibilities and obligations, and often feel strapped for time. Having a great morning routine can make all the difference in being productive, achieving goals, feeling organized, and doing all of this with confidence.

Why Bother?

It is well known that morning routines can be a deal breaker for people having great, productive days. Particularly in the professional fields of sales and leadership, the development of a solid morning routine can be a dealbreaker in terms of productivity and success. Although not all of us are in sales or a leadership position at work, we are all designed to be leaders of our own lives. This includes giving ourselves the best opportunity for feeling confident and productive each day.

Productivity coaches suggest that daily habits can be an indicator of increased productivity and achievement. Although coaches have varied ideas on the types of daily habits to include, most agree that how we begin our day has a tremendous impact on how the rest of the day seems to go.

Creating a morning routine is not focused on who can accomplish the most or check off more boxes than everyone else, it is about allowing yourself to begin your day with confidence, peace, and a positive attitude. Starting the day this way can allow us to effectively complete tasks and to handle things that come our way without constantly feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

Potential Benefits

Physical Health

According to researchers from Harvard Business School and Stanford University, workplace stress can be as damaging to our health as secondhand smoke. In fact, in a Nielsen survey, it was reported that up to 80 percent of employed adults experienced workplace stress.

If that sounds tough, consider that a research study out of the University of Akron found that stress (measured by cortisol levels) is higher in stay-at-home moms compared to women working full-time outside of the home. As stress increases, our immune system can become less effective at fighting off colds, flu, allergies, and other common physical concerns.

Emotional Health

Feeling good, physically, can certainly influence how we feel emotionally. We usually don't walk around having the flu with a smile on our face or being overly optimistic. Our emotional health can be impacted by how we feel we are managing our day.

When we are constantly in a rush and trying to make the next appointment, always running behind, or feeling lost in a sea of tasks, we can easily become overwhelmed, stressed, sad, and frustrated. Over time, if this were a continual pattern, it makes sense that we could possibly begin to feel hopeless as if we'll never catch up! A sense of peace and confidence in our day can help us maintain positive emotional health and help us to become much more resilient during times of stress.

How to Minimize Morning Anxiety

Relationships

When we feel overwhelmed and stressed, our emotions can easily show up in our relationships with important people in our lives. How many times have you come home from a long, stressful day and taken your frustrations out on a loved one? This could be through venting, anger or even isolation from those we love.

As we start building a morning routine that allows us to feel more confident, productive, and resilient, we might find that our relationships feel closer, more connected, and positive as well.

Productivity

The morning routine helps us set the tone for the day, better allowing us to control our schedules rather than our schedule controlling us. As we start each day fresh, we can better focus on what is in front of us, where to prioritize our time, and, ultimately, increase our productivity.

Productivity is not always about how much we are getting done but can also refer to the level of quality and intention we are giving to tasks. Finishing the day with 10 half-completed tasks feels a lot different than completing six tasks and feeling proud of the quality of your work. When we are constantly reacting to additional tasks, stressors, or needs of others, we can find it very difficult to effectively prioritize and follow through.

Confidence

Being confident means more than simply saying, "I like myself." Authentic confidence is grown through experiences. Self-efficacy is a term that refers to our belief that we can achieve goals and complete tasks—a belief in our own abilities. Different from self-esteem, which is an overview of our feelings of self-worth, self-efficacy is more influential in helping us build confidence and resilience.

Walking through experiences in our day and actually observing ourselves completing tasks and feeling a sense of accomplishment helps to reinforce our sense of self-efficacy. Having a morning routine helps to set the stage for better prioritizing, more effective time-management, and greater productivity. All of this, in turn, is likely to have a positive impact on our self-efficacy.

Peace

Stress can cause us a lot of trouble, emotionally, physically, in our careers and in our relationships. Not feeling as if we can accomplish tasks, or feeling as if we are always behind, causes great stress. Our self-efficacy feels low, we can begin to experience negative self-talk and end up feeling distressed and overwhelmed.

A solid, consistent morning routine can offer us a time to practice intentional mindfulness and/or prayer, leading to feelings of greater peace as we go through our day. Feeling productive in our day can lead to a more peaceful evening and, in turn, a better night's sleep and a refreshed morning the next day.

What to Remember

Give Yourself Time

Don't hit snooze! It can be so hard, especially in the beginning, to not go back to old ways and hit that snooze button so you can lay in bed just a little longer. A good morning routine allows you enough time to actually enjoy—and benefit from—your routine!

The amount of time can vary from person to person but could range anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. There is sometimes the assumption that you have to wake up at 4 a.m. in order to have a good morning routine. Productivity professionals suggest that you listen to yourself and know what would be realistic for you to do and keep up with. Don't worry about what others are doing.

Key things to remember:

  • Set a reasonable time to wake up.
  • Give your routine between 30 to 90 minutes.
  • Don't hit the snooze button.

Move Your Body

Your previous morning routine might have been to wake up and immediately grab your phone, laying in bed for 45 minutes, scrolling through Instagram or even checking emails for work. Productivity coach Jim Collins suggests that in developing our morning routine we should consider some things we could "stop doing" rather than focusing all of our attention on what to add to our day. If we allow ourselves time away from the screen, we can use those moments for standing up, stretching, yoga, or even going for a brief walk. Any body movement in the morning will be better than lying in bed on social media! We are actively waking up our muscles as well as our minds.

Key things to remember:

  • Don't stay in bed when the alarm goes off.
  • Any movement is helpful, it doesn't have to be intense.
  • Stretching, yoga, walking are good examples.

Practice Stillness

As much as body movement is important in the morning, so is practicing stillness. Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and best-selling author, entrepreneur, and professional coach, suggests that stillness can be key in helping us begin the day on the right foot.

Activities like meditation, breathing, and prayer are all great examples of what this might look like as part of your morning routine. Practicing stillness can help us feel grounded, focused, and ready to effectively prioritize tasks. Skipping this step can lead us to continue feeling rushed and less effective in our day, which defeats the point of developing a good morning routine!

Key things to remember:

  • Stillness is just as important as movement in the morning.
  • Practicing stillness helps us learn how to focus our energy.
  • Meditation, prayer, breathing exercises are good examples.

Fuel Properly

Since we were kids, we've likely heard the message that a good day starts with a good breakfast. It is true that the way we fuel our body in the morning can have a powerful influence on our physical health, our energy levels, and our mental attitude through the day.

If we feed ourselves food with little to no nutritional value, we don't feel our best, can find our energy levels peaking and crashing through the day, and feel unregulated. A healthy breakfast allows us to fuel our bodies properly and can lead to more consistent energy levels, as well as feeling more alert and focused.

Key things to remember:

  • Don't allow yourself to make impulsive decisions about food.
  • Take time to plan and prep a healthy breakfast.
  • Healthy foods to incorporate include protein, fruit, and whole grains.
Easy and Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Review Your Day

As you wrap up your morning routine, it can be helpful to then take an intentional look at your day. Reviewing your day with intent allows you to maintain control over your schedule rather than your schedule controlling you. Be honest with yourself as to the importance of certain tasks and remember that not everything can be a top priority. As much as it may feel that way emotionally, the reality is we can't function that way without getting overwhelmed.

As productivity coach and entrepreneur Tor Refsland suggests, it can be helpful to focus on one thing at a time. Be intentional in deciding where your energy and efforts need to go, complete that, and then move on to the next. Trying to juggle multiple tasks can lead to ineffective time management, low productivity, and burnout.

Key things to remember:

  • Be honest with yourself as you look at your day.
  • Remember that not everything can be a top priority.
  • Focus on one thing at a time.

What If I'm Not a Morning Person?

You don't have to naturally be a morning person in order to develop a great morning routine. How you design your morning routine is up to you and based on what you feel motivated to try and what you feel you could be consistent with over the long term. A morning routine won't be effective if it only lasts a few days.

Tips for Getting Started

Be Flexible

Let go of any expectations to develop the perfect routine and perform it perfectly every morning. You are not looking for perfection at all in this new habit, just intentional energy being put toward creating a morning routine that works best for you. Being flexible means that you can allow yourself to adapt and adjust, finding what works well and being willing to let go of what doesn't work well. Remember that you are developing a morning routine to live more productively and peacefully, not so you can live with even more stress!

Be Consistent

The most helpful habits are the ones that we can keep up with consistently. If the idea of a morning routine is new to you, don't worry. Practicing consistency will help your routine feel more and more natural over time. As you feel and see the positive impact of a good morning routine has on your day, you will find it motivating to continue practicing that habit. It will feel less like something you "should" do and become something you look forward to doing. If you skip a day, jump right back to it the next.

Again, this is not about performing perfectly but about your giving yourself the opportunity to live your best.

Take Charge of Technology

Despite some of our best efforts to not let technology take over, we often find it getting in the way or being unavoidable. In developing your morning routine, don't focus on giving up technology because—let's be honest—that will not work. You may likely use your phone as your alarm!

What you're are looking to do instead is take back authority over your technology. As time management coach Craig Jarrow suggests, allow the technology to work for you and use it accordingly. You decide how your devices, or technology in general, will play a role in your morning routine.

If you find yourself letting aimless screen time invade the morning routine, allow yourself to put those boundaries back in place so that you can refocus on the purpose of developing a healthy morning routine.

Plan at Night

Although we are talking about developing a good morning routine, it can be helpful to start this process the night before. If there are things you can set in place to make your morning easier, go ahead and do that before bed. Simple ideas could include laying out your clothes for the next day, prepping the food you will have for breakfast, or packing your lunch ahead of time. Your morning self will thank you!

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