It’s no secret I’m a long-time lover of morning routines.
And since I get SO many emails from you guys telling me you want to get into a morning routine, I thought I’d film a YouTube video (you can watch it here) and write this blog post about my favourite morning routine ideas!
But before I want to get into the 10 morning routine ideas that will make you feel like you’ve got your shit together, I just want to say this – please don’t try out every idea at once!
A WARNING FOR PERFECTIONISTS
I need to warn you – blog posts like this attract perfectionists.
And if you’re a perfectionist (like me!), when you read through a list just like the one that’s below, you’re going to want to do ALL THE THINGS.
I just know it.
And then you’re going to feel overwhelmed and scared you won’t be able to stick to it. You’ll think back to all the morning routines you’ve given up on and mistakenly use that as ‘evidence’ that you’ll fail to stick to your new morning routine as well.
And then you’ll convince yourself there’s no point even trying if you can’t do it perfectly. And you’ll convince yourself that you’re not giving up on yourself, you’re just saving yourself the disappointment.
And then you won’t actually do anything to make your life better. So you’ll stay stuck where you are right now. And you’ll progressively get more and more frustrated the more and more time passes without feeling like you’ve got your life together.
And then maybe, in three months or six months time, you’ll find yourself reading a blog post just like this to psych yourself up for the new morning routine you’re scared you won’t stick to so will probably never try. So you won’t get started. And the frustration will continue to grow worse and worse until you give up on yourself completely.
OR you can avoid all of that by choosing just two to three things from this list to try! Yep, just two or three to get you started and go from there.
Don’t fall into the same old trap you always do.
Surprise yourself by making it simple.
Build your confidence to follow through with your plans and then add to it.
ONE MORE THING
I know it’s going to be hard to choose only a few things from this list (speaking as someone who struggles with it too!) so I created a free guide to help you create your new morning routine – so you can get started tomorrow morning!
Just click the button below to download your step-by-step free guide now and then let’s get into it!
1. WASH YOUR FACE
This is one of my faves for a morning routine because it always does such a good job of waking me up! Even though I’m a morning person, if I don’t wash my face (or even just splash it with a little water) I just feel really tired and groggy and blahhh.
So I highly recommend it!
It’s also a great one to start a morning routine with because it’s an easy win straight away. If you start your morning routine with something hard (that you might be worried you’re ‘too tired’ to do properly) it’s likely you’ll justify skipping your morning routine altogether.
So choose something like washing your face or making your bed to start off your morning routine, it’s the best way to build momentum. And momentum is what you need!
2. HANDWRITE AN AFFIRMATION
First up, I just want to say that I don’t love the word ‘affirmation’ (it feels a little too woo-woo for me) but that’s what you could call what I’m suggesting:
- Set a stretch goal
- Create a statement affirming that you will achieve your stretch goal
- Handwrite that statement 15 times every morning
Of everything in this blog post, this is probably the single most powerful thing you could do in a morning routine!
When you write down a goal 15 times per day, in language that makes it sound absolutely certain you will achieve that goal, you genuinely start to believe you will achieve it. And when you genuinely believe something will happen, your brain looks for ways to make it happen. And then it does happen.
If you need a scientific explanation to convince you this works, it’s called reticular activation. Basically, by writing your affirmation over and over again you’re training your brain to focus on your goal and how to achieve it. This then opens your eyes to opportunities and possibilities you would not have otherwise seen.
Affirmations aren’t magic, they’re just a reflection of the power of a focused and determined mind (though that is kinda magical).
MY EXPERIENCE WITH AFFIRMATIONS
You might already know that this was something I did to help me leave my full-time accounting job for blogging.
At the end of December 2016, I started handwriting an affirmation 15 times per day after learning about everything I’ve told you above in the book Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss (you can read something very similar to what I read here).
The sentence I repeatedly and laboriously wrote down was this – ‘I will celebrate my last day at my full-time job on Friday, 30 June 2017 or sooner.’
It took me a bit of playing around to get to that sentence. I realised I needed to say ‘celebrate’ to indicate I hadn’t been fired or anything bad like that. And I added ‘or sooner’ to the end to indicate I could over-achieve on my goal (something I learned from Jack Canfield’s book The Success Principles).
And it’s important to say that when I first started writing out my goal, I felt like an idiot (btw I think this is the best indication it’s a stretch goal). I felt stupid for even writing it – there was NO way it could ever happen!
But I was so intrigued what I’d read in Tools of Titans that I committed to writing that phrase 15 times every morning.
After about a week, I stopped feeling stupid when I wrote down that sentence. Another week later and I was completely and utterly convinced I would celebrate my last day at my full-time job on Friday, 30 June 2017 or sooner.
And then my brain got to work.
And I began to see opportunities and put things together in ways I’d never done before. I handed in my resignation on 7 February 2017 and celebrated my last day on Friday, 10 March 2017 – more than three months earlier than I’d ever even dreamed!
If you’re willing to try this out for yourself (trust me, you’ll only feel silly for a few days at the most) here are my recommendations:
- Play around with the wording until it sits well with you – write it out a few times and just see what works
- Start your statement with ‘I will…’ (NOT ‘I will try’ or ‘I hope’)
- While the wording needs to feel good, make sure your statement doesn’t feel believable – it needs to be a stretch goal which means it should make you at least a little uncomfortable
- Add something like ‘or sooner’ or ‘or better’ to the end of your statement, if it works
And remember this can be done for any type of goal – whether it’s a career goal, a financial goal or even a romantic goal!
3. READ 10 PAGES OF A BOOK
If you read just 10 pages of a book every morning, you’ll finish a book every month (most are less than 300 pages). So if you’ve been struggle to read as much as you’d love to, I highly recommend this!
I know 10 pages might not seem like much (and if you’re a perfectionist you’ll probably want to set a much higher expectation for yourself) but that’ll still take you 10 to 20 minutes, depending on what you’re reading.
And if you aim to read too much, you risk triggering your perfectionist all-or-nothing mentality which means you won’t start reading unless you have enough time to be able to read for ages. And since it’s easy for life to get in the way of a long read, you’ll probably give up on this habit quite quickly. So make it simple – just 10 pages!
Meditating is one of those things you don’t realise you love until you stop doing it.
When I meditate every morning, I honestly can’t tell if it’s working. But what keeps me doing it is what happens when I stop.
When I stop meditating I realise that meditation makes so many everyday things easier to deal with. I’m not as reactive. I’m a lot more considered and intentional. I find it easier to stick to healthy habits and I’m WAY more productive.
Almost every time I meditate I end up lost in thought, for the majority of the time. We all ‘think too much’ and it takes a lot of practice to watch your thoughts without getting caught up in them! But the best bit is that it doesn’t really matter if I spend my whole meditation lost in thought – I get all the benefits just by showing up.
If you’ve never meditated before I recommend using an app to help you learn how to do it! I personally use Headspace (the first 10 days are free and it’s SO good) but there are heaps of amazing apps, free or inexpensive, that will teach you everything you need to know!
My biggest tip with having exercise in your morning routine is to make sure you don’t set an overwhelming target.
If you’re a perfectionist, you might find that when you set your expectations excruciatingly high (which is often the case) it feels overwhelming rather than motivating.
So the more simple, the better – make your exercise target as low as possible! And you can always get bonus points for anything extra.
My other tip is to focus on appreciating yourself for ‘showing up’ to the workout rather than just when you have a ‘good workout’. It’s normal to be skeptical about whether you’ll have enough energy for a good workout when you’re sleepy in the morning.
If we only want to workout when we think it’ll be ‘good’ (which is super common for perfectionists) it’s so easy to snooze that alarm!
But if the goal is just to show up and do our best, then it doesn’t matter whether we feel tired. And even though the workout might not be as ‘good’ as other times, it’s always better than nothing. And it keeps the momentum building which is so important!
It can take a little while to get into this mindset. My recommendation is, if you have a gratitude practice (like I talk about later in this blog post), to say things like ‘I’m grateful that I worked out yesterday even when I didn’t feel like it’. That’s what’s helped me the most!
6. MAKE TIME FOR A HEALTHY BREAKFAST
This is a huge one!
Even though we all know how important it is to have a healthy breakfast it’s one of those things that can be easy to let slip, especially if we’re already running late!
But if you’ve been struggling to eat a healthy breakfast every single morning, please don’t overlook this! If you skip breakfast you’re much more likely to make poor food choices throughout the day and that’ll lead to other poor decisions (because you’ll probably feel disappointed and guilty, which are never good feelings for decision-making).
It only takes me about ten minutes to prepare and eat my healthy breakfast every morning.
Since it’s winter here I’m currently having porridge every morning – I put ½ cup of oats in a bowl, cover them with water, put them in the microwave for a minute, stir through a teaspoon of peanut butter and top with some chopped up banana.
And there are lots of other healthy breakfasts you can make that are as quick and simple as this!
I also recommend eating the same thing for breakfast every morning (for at least a week at a time). This might sound boring but it’ll be so much easier to stick to your morning routine if you do this!
For one, it means there’s one less step in between you and a healthy breakfast because you don’t have to figure out what you want. It’s also easier to make sure you have all the ingredients you need because you only have one lot of ingredients to worry about. This means it’s cheaper.
Plus you won’t have to waste any of your limited decision making energy on what to eat, which means you’ll make better decisions throughout the day!
7. ENJOY YOUR COFFEE (OR TEA OR GREEN SMOOTHIE OR WHATEVER)
This one is all about making your morning coffee or tea (or whatever else you love to drink in the morning) an experience, rather than an inconvenience or hassle.
If you’re already having something to drink in the morning, ask ‘how can I really enjoy this?’. Maybe it’s drinking it outside in the sun or having it with a friend or while reading your favourite blogs or even just leaving yourself enough time so you’re not rushed!
Make it an experience.
I filmed a YouTube video on something Steve and I have been doing every single night (I promise it’s not what it sounds like). We tell each other 3 good things about the day and one thing we’re grateful for!
And you can easily do this in the morning. You don’t even need someone else to do it with. Just write them down or say them to yourself as you’re putting on your makeup or having a shower.
If you want some prompts, you can use something like The 5 Minute Journal.
Regardless of how you’re doing it, you’re training your brain to see the good in your life. And when you believe your life is good, it is good.
9. PRIORITISE YOUR TO-DO LIST
Let me guess – you love to-do lists.
I knew it! I knew you would!
Well, this isn’t really about that to-do list. It’s about taking two to three things (maximum) from that to-do list and putting them on a daily list so that you actually get a sense of achievement at the end of the day!
To-do lists are great but if they’re too long, too ambitious and under-estimate how long everything takes (and they always do) we end the day feeling disheartened because – even though we did actually do stuff – it doesn’t feel like it because there’s still so much left to do.
Or the list is so long we have no idea where to start so we do absolutely nothing at all!
In less than ten minutes, you can take that long to-do list, choose two to three items from it and prioritise them. If you end up having extra time, great. You’re welcome to revisit that big, overwhelming list.
But until that day comes, I recommend just picking two or three things (I can’t say this enough!) that you will achieve today. And then to take that list and prioritise it.
It’s also important to make sure that every item on that list is super specific.
We are SO much more likely to go to the gym if we’ve written down ‘go to the gym at 4pm to do upper body strength workout’ rather than ‘go to the gym today’.
Don’t be mistaken – vagueness is not flexibility. It’s an opportunity for excuses. So make sure everything’s super specific!
10. MAKE TIME TO DO YOUR HAIR AND MAKEUP
What I’m getting at here is just to give yourself enough time to get ready without feeling rushed. If you start the day with the feeling you look after yourself, you’re much more likely to continue looking after yourself throughout the day!
Also just a note here – I wouldn’t recommend picking out your outfit in the morning. You do not want to have any decisions in your morning routine whatsoever!
If you make a lot of little decisions in the morning you’re much more likely to make poor decisions at the end of the day (this is called ‘decision fatigue’). Which means that if you don’t make many decisions in the morning, you can save your good decision-making energy for later. And this could be the difference between plonking down on the couch after work or actually going to the gym like you planned!
So it’s definitely best to lay out your outfit the night before (or to do it for the entire week on a Sunday night)!
CREATING YOUR MORNING ROUTINE
As I mentioned at the beginning, please don’t try to put all of these into your morning routine!
Just pick two to three to start with and, once you’re on a roll with your morning routine, you can do more!
I know it’s going to be hard to choose only a few things from this list so I created a free guide to help you create your new morning routine – so you’ll be ready to start tomorrow morning!
Just click the button below to get your free step-by-step guide straight away!
I also filmed a YouTube video to chat about all of these ideas, you can watch it below (or here) and make sure you subscribe to my channel if you like it because I post a new video every single day!
HAVE YOUR SAY
Which ideas do you want to try in your morning routine? Let me know in the comments below or in the Smart Twenties Community!
P.S. If you’re a procrastinator, keep reading to learn about my online course for procrastinators called Get Out Of Your Own Way:
Take your life to the next level
Four years ago, I found myself trapped in a vicious cycle of procrastination and guilt. Whenever I tried to do simple life tasks (like going to the gym, eating right and organising my time) it felt like I was trying to move mountains!
After work, I was too exhausted to do anything more than make food and lay in bed watching another episode of my favourite show. I kept telling myself I deserved a break, but I never enjoyed it. I felt guilty for wasting my time but I didn’t stop (and when I did find myself with time to do the things I wanted, I just kept procrastinating – gahh!).
And I wish it stopped there, but then I beat myself up for procrastinating! I felt like I was behind everyone else and letting everyone down, so I procrastinated even more.
No matter how many hours I spent reading motivation articles on Pinterest or how many times I filled out a new planner, I just couldn’t make myself change – even though I knew I was the one stopping myself from progressing. And I had all the advice right in front of me!
And because this whole situation was frustrating AF (and I knew I was better than that, even though I didn’t have the evidence to prove it) I dedicated myself to figuring out how to stop sabotaging my own success.
After trying hundreds of different things, it finally clicked! And this year I’ve been able to quit my full-time job for blogging, I’m more productive and focused than I’ve ever been in my life and I’ve finally stopped feeling like I’m behind! Plus it’s actually easy to workout everyday and eat healthy (which I never thought would be possible).
And since everything I’ve learned has COMPLETELY changed my life, I decided to put the very best of it together in a step-by-step course!
My online course for procrastinators
Get Out Of Your Own Way is a self-paced online video course that gives you the tools and mindset shifts you need to stop procrastinating, follow through with all your plans and have the courage to finally pursue your dreams – even if your life is totally overwhelming and you have no idea what you want to do!
I’ll just let you know that this course won’t be for you if you’re looking for quick-fix procrastination tips (let’s be real – you’ve seen all those already and they haven’t worked) or you’re afraid to dig deep and uncover the real reasons you’ve been holding yourself back.
But if you’re ready to make a change and need someone to guide you through the very first step – it could be just the thing you need!