We have all heard reasons and stories why a morning routine is important. The thing is that sometimes morning and motivation don't always go together. In this post, I am going to look at different morning routines that I have tried and tested and will let you know what worked best for me. The aim is not to tell you how to do it, rather it's to offer you options so that you can select something that works best for you.
But, before we look at anything to do with routines I want to share some information that I gathered about why waking up at the crack of dawn or before sunrise is helpful to your productivity, health and vitality. This applies regardless of what life stage you are in!
There is something special about the early hours of the morning, before dawn, which is timeless and unifies all beliefs of how important it is. I was recently told by a mentor of mine that the first rays of the sun are the most important ones when it comes to physical and psychological growth. Now, if that isn't enough of a reason to wake up early in the morning I don't know what is. . . and I say that as someone who struggles to wake up early! If you are Muslim, you are aware that God descends from the heavens and asks 'who is calling for me?' as this is a sacred time when prayers are answered. The worlds great leaders in government and business all get up early - now I am not saying that that is enough of a reason to do so, but there must be something in it.
If you have a lot to get done then perhaps being specific about your morning routine will help you to get the rest of your day ship shape.
So what is the best way to fit in waking up, hydrating, brushing teeth, having a shower, exercise, eating breakfast etc in a morning routine? Especially if you are responsible for others. I have found my nighttime routine really dictates how my morning goes, and you can read a post on that here. But before you go there please finish reading this one about morning routines so you have both ends of the day sorted and can fill it with your amazing self, doing what you love!
Reasons For Waking Time
4am - You start the day with what you are passionate about, everyone else is asleep so it's quiet and you can focus on what's important to you. You have more time to do what you love. Dreamers and visionaries get up at 4am, they have time to change the world. Eric Thomas, athlete and speaker, says 'if you are not waking up at 4am your purpose or your vision for life are off track.' That might seem a little extreme but it certainly gives food for thought.
5am - As above! You are also putting yourself first, preparing for the day properly (remember Abraham Lincoln said that he would spend 4 hours sharpening the axe to cut the tree!). You have abundant time to prepare for the day. Amelia Boone, attorney and endurance athlete who now works for Apple says 'set your alarm for 30 minutes before you want to wake up until it becomes normal.'
6am - This is still pretty good but these days it's a little late. If you wake up early to pray or meditate waking up at 6am might leave you a little rushed to get to work or school on time. Depending on where you are in the world you might still catch some early morning sunlight.
7am - This is the time to wake up and just about make it to work on time! No time for gym, prayer or reflection. And when I get up at 7am there is no time to prepare for the day.
8am - When I would wake at 8am and go to work it was literally a roll out of bed and out the door! No time for coffee, shower, or basics. This was never a good start to the day!
9am - No one told me I have to get up, everyone else has gone to work and I have no reason to wake up early.
My recommendation to you is to aim for 4am or 5am.
What's In The Routine?
Things you want to fit into your morning routine - these are what I am for. I am only human so many days of the week I don't manage them all, but having a target really helps to focus the mind.
Teeth and bathroom - 5 minutes to wake up, wash and brush your teeth.
Get changed - if you need to wear clothing to exercise or pray you have another 2 minutes here.
Pray/ Reflection/Meditate - I would recommend you allocate 21 minutes to this. It can be any form of reflective thought, prayer or reading. Just use the time to reconnect with your soul. It's a powerful way of starting the day because you are focusing on the one part that gets neglected most of the day - your mind and body are stimulated but the soul doesn't tend to be, unless you have a specific focus on that.
Exercise - you can go for a 30 minute run, or do a 10 minute high intensity training workout or any exercise of your choice.
Breakfast - eat something nutritious and tasty not sugar loaded and full of fat! Sometimes I don't eat breakfast until mid morning but I make sure that I have a glass of hot chocolate (I don't like drinking milk) or something in the morning instead.
5 minutes of focus - This is very different from meditation or reflection. Set an alarm for 5 minutes and walk yourself through the day. This isn't about looking at your calendar and your to-do list, this is about prioritising your activities and your day. The focus is on how you can achieve your goals, whatever they may be so that at the end of the day when you are lying in bed reflecting on your day you know it went to plan and that you navigated any obstacles fine. Once the alarm goes off then you are ready for the day.
My Morning Routine
Many of you have asked so here it finally is. This is my morning routine. I don't always manage it but on the days I do I feel like I am crushing it and on the days that I don't sometimes things are a little harder. I use this routine to manage my physical and psychological fitness and what I am able to achieve in a day.
5am - wake, hydrate, teeth and bathroom, pray and meditate (21 minutes)
6am - work for 52 minutes.
7am - breakfast and getting kids up
8.30am - work for 52 minutes, 17 minute break, work for 52 minutes.
And then whatever the day holds for me. . .
And if you are looking for the 7 secrets to an epic morning routine check out this post.
Your morning routine will probably be different to mine. That is 100% fine. I am not telling you to do it my way, I am just encouraging you to be deliberate about how you spend your morning and plan your day. That is how we start to live beyond standard norms.
I'd love to know, what was the biggest insight you gained from reading this post? Please comment below . . .
[Note – Plan each minute of your day with precision and flexibility and achieve 8 hours of work done in 5 hours, every single day. This is the tool that Saiyyidah Zaidi, High Performance Coach, Business Architect and Lifestyle Strategist, uses to plan her day.]