I’ve recently decided that in order to accomplish the things I aim to accomplish in a day and to promote a better lifestyle for myself overall, I need to start getting up by at least 7, about 2 and a half hours before I have to leave for work. Soon, I’ll aim to make it a little earlier than that when I can get it together enough to go to sleep a little earlier. I like the idea of being a morning person. I always felt like “morning people” had their ish together. They seem more productive, healthier, even happier sometimes. I wanted to be like that. What I find though, is that I am not like that naturally.
I’m on Bumble (a dating app) and one of the questions you can choose to answer about yourself for your profile is what you would do with an extra hour in the day. Unsurprisingly, this seemingly innocuous question really got me thinking about my priorities and how I use my free time. If I had an extra hour in the day, would I really use it to accomplish something beyond what I do now? Or would I waste it on small and petty things like scrolling or watching Netflix more than I should? And now, I don’t have an extra hour in the day, I have TWO! So how do I use them? If I’m making the effort to wake up earlier, shouldn’t I honor that by doing good things and not wasting my time?
To help me use my time wisely and, ideally, productively, I laid out the outline of a morning routine that seems to work for me. It lets me feel like I’m having a slow morning, savoring my time, while still prioritizing some longer-term goals. If you’re thinking about changing your morning schedule to include more time or need some ideas of a morning routine to start figuring out what works for you, keep reading as I explain how I spend my mornings.
Waking Up: To start with, getting up at seven is not easy. I used to have my alarm set to seven but I would always snooze it until at least 7:45 if not 8. I also found that I needed something to really wake me up from that sleepy daze that so easily lends itself to falling back asleep after you’ve shut your alarm off for good. Scrolling on my phone really did the trick but then I was starting my day with a surge of anxiety as I tried to engage with posts and keep up with all the trends and think about how my content will never look like their content (also, duh, that’s the point!). This simply wouldn’t do.
So instead of relying on my phone, I plug it in at night somewhere I can’t reach it from my bed (which also helps with the scrolling before I go to sleep) and I use my Amazon Echo Spot, Alexa, to wake me up. While Alexa does have an alarm clock feature, it also has a snooze function and I’m trying to avoid the snooze trap. As an alternative, I use the Morning Routine function. This is where you can have your Alexa start reading the news, giving the weather, reading a daily bible verse, or whatever series you prefer at either a voice command (something like “Alexa, good morning”) or a specific time, like 7 every morning. And there is no snooze. She keeps going until the routine is over. By the end of it I’m awake and at little to no risk of falling back asleep. I still haven’t picked up my phone and I can get started with my day without the anxiety of Instagram or the disappointment of sleeping later than I wanted to. If you don’t have an alexa/google home/ something like this, I also thought about having someone call me and having a short conversation with them to get my morning going. Whatever you’ve got to do.
Get to Work: After I wake up, I spend my first hour or so working. Mostly, this is writing for the blog (like I am right now) or working on job applications, writing short stories or articles for contribution to online magazines, or working on organizing my schedule/to do list/grocery list/bills; basically, whatever needs to be done. You can choose to get whatever work done you do or you can do something more creative like take up painting or cross stitching or you can finally have that time set aside for a workout routine. Once that first hour is up, it’s time to get ready for my day.
Eat Breakfast (like, actually eat breakfast): As someone who has skipped breakfast for basically the last ten years, I’m trying to eat it every day now. So, I usually start with that. A bowl of cereal, bagels with cream cheese, boiled eggs, anything that’s quick but not just a sugar filled granola bar on my way out the door.
Tea: Sometimes I make myself tea to go with my breakfast and then I usually try to just sit on the couch with my tea for a few minutes, actually allowing myself time and not feeling rushed or “too busy”. I also make myself a bottle of water and drink the whole thing before I have to leave. It’s important to start and stay hydrated throughout the day. Making it a priority in the morning sets it up as a priority for the rest of the day.
Get Ready: I have to wear specific clothes to work every day so that part of getting ready isn’t all that time consuming. If you have trouble with wasting time picking out clothes, try doing it the night before. My “make-up routine” consist of eyebrows, mascara, and concealer so this isn’t a huge time suck either. If you do a full beat every morning, consider that into the time you need to wake up. Running late because your make-up takes too long isn’t a good look, no matter how flawless your cut crease is.
I also try to listen to a full music album in the morning. This doesn’t happen every day but I’ll start it after my hour of work and listen until it’s over (most albums are only about 45 minutes long). While I’ll definitely listen to old favorites every once in a while, I try to use this time to listen to something I haven’t heard before, old or new. I’ll do a post soon with some of my favorites. It’s always nice to branch out and not get stuck in the rut of listening to the same music every single day.
Reading Time: Then it’s time for me to leave for work and head to the train. I keep whatever book I’m reading packed in my bag so I always have it to read on my commute. I get a solid 30-45 minute block of reading time out of my ride depending on which trains I’m taking that morning and getting that done while I’m in a place where I really can’t do much else in the way of productivity helps me feel more accomplished and less anxious.
That’s it! That’s my morning routine. This exact routine may not work for everyone but it’s a good place to start. The main point is that when you’re deciding on a routine or making adjustments to the way you’re spending your days, being intentional with your time and effort is key. Fill your time with things that nourish you and make you feel good—whether that’s working toward accomplishing goals you’ve set for yourself or prioritizing a better skincare routine or finally having the time to try your hand at a creative activity you’ve always pushed to the backburner in lieu of “more important things”. We all have the same 24 hours in a day and we shouldn’t be using them in ways that don’t serve us.