The one thing that bugs me about any productive morning routine type article I come upon online is how robotic it seems. It’s based on the idea that my perfect morning routine is the same as yours. That everyone will benefit from this exact morning routine that works for me.
That is wildly wrong. We’re all different, and what we can give you advice on should be some more general principles, rather than the exact (often too ambitious) timeline.
My productive day routine isn’t always 100% the same as the day before. After all, it’s my often irregular life, not a school. It is, however, always productive. Here’s what principles it’s based on.
The Principles of a Productive Morning Routine
Let’s start with when you wake up.
Set a Realistic Alarm.
There are two main mistakes you may make when trying to have more productive mornings. One of them is being too ambitious in terms of your alarm. The other is, insisting on always setting it at the same time.
You’ll read so many articles instructing you how to start getting up at 5am and love it! I myself am guilty of reading and pinning many of these. And yet, it never works. Do you know why? Because not all of us can get up before the sun’s out and enjoy it. Sure, you can force yourself a couple of mornings, but you’ll probably give it up soon enough.
The thing is this:
Effective morning routines are only really effective when you enjoy them and feel energized by them.
If you wake up groggy and hating your life, that’s not a very good setup for success, nor for productivity. You know yourself best, and you know what the earliest time is for you to wake up and truly seize the day. That means you need a good combination of enough sleep and no procrastination.
My Morning Routine
I tend to get up between 6am and 6:30am. However, I may push it a bit (this morning I got up at 7:20am), especially when I go to sleep late. Ever since getting pregnant, but even before that as well, I try to never sleep for less than 7 hours. You can’t have a productive morning routine without enough sleep. Otherwise, you’ll be sleepy, yawning, and will lack focus. So my first piece of advice is – if you want to make early waking your habit, start by setting a good bedtime.
One thing I find very important is to never set my alarms before the sun is out. When it’s summer, I can get up as early as 5:30am, no problem. But during winter, when it’s not visible until 6:30am or even 7am, I just make things worse by insisting on getting up that early. I end up snoozing the alarm and sleeping for a lot longer than I would, had I set it for 6:30am from the get-go.
The bottom line here is: get enough sleep and choose a realistic time for setting your alarms. Adjust them when necessary.
Plan Out Your Mornings, But Not Too Strictly.
Nothing can make you hate your mornings more than when you begin treating them as a chore. Good morning routines are both productive and enjoyable. You leave yourself enough time for small pleasures – coffee, reading a book – and start your mornings off energized. Then you move into the must-dos, but try not to give them precise timelines. Trying to finish that yoga class by 9am precisely so you can start your next task ASAP takes the fun out of it, stresses you out, and is the opposite of being productive. You’ll be so obsessed with the clock you won’t be able to enjoy yourself or give it your best.
Your morning routine, therefore, should be a combination of small joys and things that make you better in one way or another. Taking a course, exercising, writing in your gratitude diary… Or in my case, running a website! Once those are done, it t’s time to do some work. Personally, I work from home in my lovely little space. And despite having flexible hours, I never slack. The secret lies in my productive morning routine, which helps set me on the right track every time.
Having lovely planners like these certainly helps, too, as I am more of a pen-and-paper kind of gal:
Know Your Limits.
My final piece of advice isn’t to list out exactly what you should do each morning. I enjoy reading, but you may not. I love my morning coffee, but you may prefer tea. While I love yoga, you may enjoy jogging more. Besides, on some mornings I prefer listening to a podcast rather than reading. It’s good to be flexible!
No, my final advice is for you to know how much you can do in a single morning. If you add too many things to your plan and don’t finish them all, you’ll be unhappy. If you barely finish them but they end up half-assed – the result is the same. So start with just a few things, until you notice you have some free space in your mornings. Then start filling it up, but never go overboard.
Like I mentioned a couple of times now, a productive morning routine should be a combination of small pleasures and tasks which improve you as a person. Follow that, and your days will be more productive than you ever could have imagined!