The Importance of a Morning Routine

I’ve been experimenting with keeping a consistant morning routine for about six months now. I haven’t been perfect about it, but I have been consistant enough that I’ve made some very important observations. Observations on small things that bring a noticeable difference to the outcome of my day, both physically and mentally. I’ve been amazed at how some small changes have made such a big change in my life.

First, let me start with what my mornings used to be like about a year ago:

  • 6:30 am: Wake up
  • 6:50 am: Leave my apartment for the train
  • 7:00 am: Grab coffee and sometimes breakfast (muffin or doughnut) on my way to the train
  • 7:17 am: Catch train

It was fairly routine since the train kept me on schedule, but it was in no way a healthy one. I was practically forcing myself out of bed, then rushing around for 20 minutes before I downed a coffee and ate a doughnut on my way to work. A half-ass, forced routine that wasn’t healthy.

Now let’s take a look at my current routine:

  • 5:30 am: Wake up. Spend about 15 minutes allowing my body to wake up
  • 6:00 am: Work out. Most of the time this is at a gym but recently it has been a morning run outside.
  • 7:15 am: Morning mediation at my apartment
  • 7:45 am: Make myself breakfast and juice vegetables.
  • 8:15 am: Up until two weeks ago I would leave to catch my train. Now I sit down and either write my blog or do Ruby code exercises for about 90 minutes.

This is a much more balanced routine. I get a good solid morning workout in, quiet mediation, and I make myself a healthy breakfast. I feel like I’ve accomplished so much by 8 am and that carries through my entire day. Over the course of the past year I’ve also made some changes in my diet that has improved my health. Mainly in the morning it has been eliminating coffee, doughnuts, and adding fresh vegetable juice. My morning workout gives me a burst of energy that is much better than caffeine. Juicing vegetables in the mornings also gives me a good energy kick.

I have become very in tune with my body during this time and noticed that very small changes can make a very big different each morning. I’ve used that knowledge to refine the process each morning to make it as efficient as possible. Here are just a few of my observations:

  • Don’t hit the snooze button. Even if I hit it once and drift back off to sleep I tend to feel “off” for most of the day. I still don’t know why.
  • Have everything ready to go in my gym bag the night before. Recently, I make sure my gym clothes are on my couch so I see them when I wake up.
  • No electronic devices after 9pm (preferably 8pm if possible). The light from electronic screens affects your circadian rhythm and makes it harder to fall asleep.
  • Have an evening routine with a bedtime! Even if it is only two or three items (like the no electronic devices rule). This ensures I will get the sleep I require.
  • Get a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise in the morning (for the difficult workout mornings). Anything less and I don’t get that kick of energy.
  • A 5:30 am wake up seems optimal for me. I tried 5:00 am for awhile but I didn’t get any improvements over 5:30, so I went back to it.
  • The sum of all the parts makes me feel good…there is a noticeable difference if I skip even just one of the main parts of my morning.

These small things have made big improvements in my mornings. The biggest challenge for me has been staying consistant with it. I know it works well for me but sometimes if I get pushed off of this for a few days things start to unravel. Once that happens it takes a bit of work to get back onto the routine…but that’s life. It also was the last three days for me…until today! The most important thing is knowing what works and playing around every once and awhile to see if any improvements can be made. I’ve been trying to stick to this Monday – Saturday, leaving myself Sundays to sleep later or just relax in the mornings. Some inspiration in this area has come from the guys at Buffer. They write a really cool company blog which I recommend you check out. More specifically, Joel the CEO, has written about topics like this several times on his personal blog.

What activities do you have in your morning routine? Do you have a morning routine? Let me know in the comments below.