If you’re a “morning person,” you know that the early hours of the day, between when you wake up and when you begin work, can be some of the most valuable, productive, and fun. And, even if you don’t identify that way, you may be surprised how a few slight changes in your behavior can have a tremendous effect on your attitude.
When you establish the right morning routine, you can greet the day with fresh vigor, get more accomplished in work and life, and go to sleep looking forward to the next day. Want to stop hitting “snooze” and learn to love your mornings? Here are some ideas for morning rituals that will spread some sunshine on your days.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Sometimes more pleasant mornings are simply a matter of getting adequate rest at night. Before making any changes to your morning routine, make sure you’re in good physical health, not abusing drugs or alcohol, and getting the best sleep you can.
When you’re not in a hurry, everything seems less daunting. Give yourself more than enough time to transition from sleep to preparation for the day ahead.
Make Time for Yourself
To put yourself in a pleasant and productive mood, start your day with activities you will look forward to and enjoy, with an eye toward building routines that help you cultivate a positive mindset. These could include mindfulness meditation, a solo creative project you’re passionate about and want to make time for, or maybe just a bracing cup of coffee.
“Running and walking are both great because they’re accessible to most everyone, they can be your gateway remedy to a healthier lifestyle, and they can even give you the momentum to design a whole new morning routine,” writes Benjamin Spall, author ofMy Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired. If a pre-dawn run sounds overwhelming, you can try yoga, stretching, swimming, or any other physical activity that wakes you up, circulates your blood and oxygen, and helps you get into the rhythm and flow of life.
“Something I do every morning is stretch, listen to NPR, and then shower,” says Tina Roth Eisenberg, designer and founder of the popular lecture and networking event series Creative Mornings. “Then I sit down and either write whatever my soul needs to regurgitate or post to my blog.” Whether or not you consider yourself a writer, an early-morning writing practice is one of the most trusted ways to kickstart your brain, prime your creative pump, and connect to your deeper emotions. You can try Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages,” record the previous night’s dreams while they’re fresh, or keep a decision journal. Or, like humorist David Sedaris, jot down a few notes, lists, or ideas at dawn and return to them later to flesh them out.
“Each morning you should prepare, plan and meditate on how you aim to act that day,” writes author Ryan Holiday. “Don’t wing it. Don’t be reactionary. Have a plan. Marcus Aurelius rose in the morning and did his journaling – preparing himself for what he was likely to face in the hours ahead. He thought about the people he was likely to face, difficulties he might encounter (premeditatio malorum), and what he knew about how to respond.” Developing an early-morning journaling habit can help you build personal confidence and see connections and patterns you might otherwise miss.
Skip Email and Social Media
Most mornings, your notifications can wait. If the first thing you do every day is reach for your phone, try postponing that for an hour, or however long it takes to do something more peaceful and reclaim some of your private psychological space. “This can be hard for many of us, especially if you run an online business or keep up profiles that feel like they require your full attention at all times,” writes Spall. What you’ll quickly find, however, is that avoiding social media in the morning will allow the calm of the night to carry on a little bit longer.”
The best way to stop a bad habit is to, instead of going cold turkey, replace it with something you’d rather do instead. “If you’re going to do something like intentionally ignore your email for a few hours, you need to be just as intentional about planning how you’re going to spend that time,” writes Kelsey Manning, who struggled to implement email-free mornings and gained some insight in the process.
Change One Habit at a Time
Take inspiration from Niklas Göke, who wrote an excellent piece about how he built an enviable morning routine by optimizing one new habit at a time. “I never made a list when I began,” Göke writes. “Because it wouldn’t have lasted a day. The moment you make a list, you start trying to check off the items on it. You’ll dream up a big set of habits, try to adopt them all in a day and fail. Instead, see this idea as a process of optimization. Don’t pressure yourself to get it right the first time. Think of yourself as putting one foot in front of the other and improving along the way. This way, you’ll focus on learning and getting better, rather than comparing and getting frustrated.”
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