Rise and shine, heroine! It’s time to start making the most of your morning routine.
Now, before I give you the wrong idea, I am very much not a “morning person.” I never have been, and if we’re being honest, I probably never will be. There’s even research suggesting that early birds and night owls developed differently for evolutionary reasons, so it’s not our fault if we want to roll over and go back to bed in the morning. It’s a part of our biology!
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t create a morning routine that allows you to begin the day in a productive way. Mine helps carry my good morning vibes through the rest of the day. Anyone can set aside a bit of time for themselves in the mornings and doing so can seriously revolutionize your day!
In my experience, the best morning routines consist of two factors:
- They align with your goals.
- They’re sustainable to your life.
Your morning routine needs to align with your goals because otherwise that productive time that you’re using in the morning ends up being wasted.
If I wanted to run a marathon but I spent my morning routine focused on baking techniques, I wouldn’t be using my morning hours to my advantage. After a few months, I might be able to craft a perfect croquembouche, but I won’t be any closer to my goal of running a marathon. My mornings would be better spent hitting the pavement and gradually training up to that 26.2 miles.
You also need your morning routine to be sustainable to your life. Even the best routine won’t stick if it isn’t something you can realistically do for an extended period of time.
For instance, if my morning routine required me to get up at 5:30 each morning, that would last for maybe two days, and then I’d fall back into my time-wasting, lazy morning, phone scrolling ways. I’d be better off planning something realistic that I’ll stick to, rather than push myself too far and abandon my morning routine altogether.
Keep scrolling for three steps I used to create a morning routine that I love and that serves my life and goals.
Want me to guide you through these steps in a fast and easy way? I’ve created a series of worksheets called 3 Easy Steps to Create Your Best Morning Routine, and I’ll send them right to your inbox for free!
Download the free worksheets to walk through these steps with an editable PDF of all the questions and charts I used to create my routine.
Step 1 – Consider your goals
First, we want to take some time to really dig into what the best morning routine looks like for you. This should include how it can help set you up for a great day and build toward your current goals.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What are your current goals (personal and/or professional)?
- What skills or activities would help you achieve those goals?
- Think back to the last time you had a really great morning. What did that include for you?
Here’s what this exercise yielded for me:
- My current goals include finishing the first draft of my current writing project, perfecting my work/life balance, and finding small pockets of self care in my life.
- Sticking to a daily writing practice and using my mornings more effectively will help me achieve these goals.
- My last “great morning” included time to myself that wasn’t rushed. I meditated, then enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee while reading a book.
Once you’ve had a chance to work through these questions in your free worksheets, you can move on to the second step.
Step 2 – Track how you spend your time
I recently read 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam, and it opened my eyes to how much time we really get each and every week.
168 hours! Really think about that for a minute. If you work 40 hours and sleep 56 hours (an ambitious 8 hours per night) each week, you still have 72 hours to mold and enjoy as you’d like. Suddenly, the 5 hours I spent working out each week felt like a drop in a bucket!
The problem is that we probably aren’t using all that time as well as we could be. That’s where tracking comes in.
Vanderkam recommends taking a week and tracking your time in 15-minute increments. You can be as specific or generic as you’d like. For instance, your work hours could be labeled as “Work” or as “Email,” “Team meeting,” or “Video editing.”
For your morning routine transformation, you can either track your entire week or just your mornings. My morning routine worksheets include a morning time tracker, but you can also visit Laura’s blog for a full, week-long tracking sheet.
Once you’ve finished up a week of tracking, take some time to dig in and see where you’re spending your time. I found it helpful to ask myself a few questions:
- How do you currently spend your mornings? Does this current routine serve your goals?
- How much time could you have in the mornings if you went to bed at a natural time and allowed yourself enough sleep?
- How much time does it take you to do the bare minimum of “getting ready” in the morning?
Here were my answers before I crafted my current morning routine:
- I spend my mornings wasting time on my phone in bed. This routine does not serve my goals.
- If I stuck to being in bed by 10:30 p.m., I could be up and well-rested at 6:30 a.m. This schedule would give me 2 hours of morning routine time before work.
- Since I shower after working out, it takes me between 15 and 30 minutes to get ready in the morning.
Take a good look at your findings. We’ll use them to create your best morning routine in the third and final step.
Step 3 – Craft your ideal morning
Now it’s time to put it all together! Let’s craft your ideal morning routine using what you’ve learned about yourself.
Refer to your time tracking results
First, we’ll begin with your time tracking results. Taking note of your results, determine when you would like to begin your morning routine each day. This is your wake-up time. For me, I chose 6:30 a.m. because I could get enough sleep by being in bed before 11 p.m. the night before.
Remember, be sure this is realistic and sustainable based on your time tracking results. Don’t be a hero! Picking a time that’s too far outside of your current results may be too big of an adjustment to sustain over time.
Now, go back to your time tracking results and figure out when your morning routine will end. This is likely determined by your work hours, when your kids get up, or other responsibilities you have each day. We’ll call this your clock-in time. For me, this is 8:30 a.m. when my workday begins.
Your clock-in time minus your wake-up time equals the time you have available within your daily morning routine. For me, 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 a.m. = 2 hours of morning routine.
Determine morning activities based on your goals
Perfect! Now that you know the time you have to work with each morning, let’s step back to the first exercise around your goals.
You’ll want to choose one goal to start. It can be personal or professional, but it should be the most important one or the one with the shortest timeline. For me, I chose finishing the first draft of my current writing project.
Then, I made a list of all the things I could do that would help me achieve this goal. You’ll want to focus on items that you can complete in the time you have or can be broken up into smaller chunks of time. Here’s my list:
- Reading books on writing as a craft
- Writing 30 minutes in my manuscript each day
- Listening to writing podcasts
- Being active in the writing community on social media
- Finding a critique partner
Ultimately, I decided that writing for 30 minutes each day would fit nicely within my routine. Plus I know that I’m more likely to write every day if I do it before the rest of my day gets in the way.
You should take one or two activities from this primary goal list, determine the amount of time you want to allot for each activity, and leave space for it in your routine schedule.
Depending on how much time you have, you can do the same thing for your secondary goals as well. My goals to include more leisure and self care in my mornings led to daily meditations and a lengthier skincare routine.
You should have at least 2 but no more than 5 activities in your morning routine. I find this number works to give a sense of variety without making the morning feel busy and rushed.
Create a schedule with your morning activities
Once you have a few activities picked out, it’s time for the easiest part: to create a schedule.
Consider how you want to begin each day and put that activity first. This first item might also be the most important piece of your routine, so you know it will always get done, no matter if you forget to set an alarm!
Then, fill in the remaining time in your morning routine with the remaining activities. For me, my morning routine looks a little something like this:
6:30 a.m. | Meditate
6:45 a.m. | Write in my current manuscript
7:15 a.m. | Skincare routine
7:45 a.m. | Read and enjoy a cup of coffee
A few things to consider…
The thing that made all the difference to me — self-proclaimed night owl and patron saint of the snooze button — was crafting a morning routine around something exciting enough to get me out of bed. Whether this means saving the next chapter of a book I’m enjoying until morning or buying extra decadent creamer for my coffee, a part of my morning routine entices me to get up each day at the time I’ve chosen.
You should also use this schedule to guide your morning routines, knowing that some days will be different from others. Give yourself the flexibility to shift the order of your activities or how long you spend on them based on your mood or what’s most important to know that day.
I’ve included more helpful tips in my morning routine worksheets, which you can download for free.
I hope this morning routine tutorial was helpful! If you use my system to revolutionize your mornings, let me know how it’s going for you. You can reach me on Instagram or by shooting an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s one thing that helps you get out of bed in the mornings?
P.S. Looking for quick bits of self care to add to your morning routine? Check out my 30-day self care challenge for inspiration!