Routine. Is that a beautiful word, or an ugly word?
I used to think that I wanted freedom – total spontaneity, without an iota of structure. Freedom and chaos are close friends, and since every productivity guru since the dawn of time has touted the value of a morning routine, I finally decided to give it a shot. Here’s what my routine has evolved into – be sure to leave a comment and share yours – or why you don’t have one!
What I Thought a Morning Routine Was…
- 1 hour of sunrise yoga, whale songs, and alkaline water
- 30 minutes of journaling, green tea, and positive mantras
- a luxurious bath topped with rose petals, floating candles, and stardust
- organic, locally-grown breakfast (if it wasn’t served to me in the bath)
What My Actual Mornings Looked Like…
- Hit snooze the one extra time that leaves just 8 minutes before my first scheduled item (a.k.a. having to see other humans)
- Take care of the usual morning stuff as fast as possible – teeth, hair, eyeliner, etc.
- Put on something convenient, leaving shoe-tying for later
- Grab breakfast or, if nothing is made, snag a yogurt and bring it with me
- Realize that I forgot to bring water
- Literally, a f-ing tornado.
I thought sleep was my priority…and, while I love sleep, I learned that a tiny bit of morning structure (and some night-before secrets) made life so much more relaxed and, dare I say it…productive. Stress takes up time!
What I Wanted to Be Doing
Back in the day, like college-era, I did used to meditate in the morning, sit on my apartment balcony, and generally take things easy in the morning as long as I didn’t have a 7am class. I did used to make it to the gym in the morning so that I didn’t have to worry about it getting bumped off the schedule if class or work ran long. And I did always have breakfast ready, because I ate cereal. I already knew how much nicer life felt with a little relaxation time in the morning – not because I had anything particularly bad to face in the day, but because I could have a clear mind that was actually awake and not part grizzly bear.
However, all of my lists were too long. If I have a 6am client, there is no present way I am getting up at 4:30 to fit in a meeting with the Queen, let alone yoga, making a smoothie, or any of the other good stuff I could do to make my day better. Luckily, I found a balance between the 8-minute tornado and the 90-minute wish list.
My 12-Minute Morning Routine
I don’t start my day just 12 minutes before my first appointment – I still have to brush my teeth and do all the stuff that goes with that – but I do make sure I get these five things done every morning, which takes about 12 minutes. I don’t have a particular order in which I do them or any special rituals, just the joy of having these moments.
1. Drink a Glass of Water
Isn’t it amazing that this simple task has to go on a list? But hey, you’re not alone! I have to remind myself to do the basics, too, when I’m trying to make something a part of my life.
2. Take 10 Deep Breaths
If I meditate first thing in the morning at this stage of my life, I mayyyyyy fall back asleep. Taking 10 deep breaths is enough to get my lungs woken up, my heart rate steady, and my brain relaxed and focused for the start of the day.
3. Get Dressed – With a Twist
YES, I converted and I set out my clothes the night before…BECAUSE otherwise I might not know where a certain thing is. So, getting dressed takes only a few seconds, and zero of those seconds are spent pawing through the basket of clean clothes.
4. Head Outside
My dog’s favorite part: we take a quick walk around the block. I used to skip this step because I felt like one block wasn’t enough – and, if I have more than 12 minutes, I will extend this step for both of our sakes – but even the one block is a great chance to get some fresh (??) air and let the pupper burn off some energy. If the weather is impossible, I’ll stay inside with three or four yoga poses to help get my muscles awake before I train.
5. Breakfast and Coffee – More Twists
Coffee. (And sometimes tea.) It’s so delicious, but I don’t like messing with the grounds in the morning, because rushing while sleepy = spilled/broken stuff. So, I keep my cold brew stocked or, if it’s missing, make a cup of tea (no grounds to spill).
And breakfast! It’s still a yogurt if I don’t have anything prepared, but 99% of the time I have something prepared or waiting for me in the freezer so that I can take at least 5 screen-free minutes to enjoy eating. I’ve also split my breakfast in half for very early mornings, so my first breakfast is like a breakfast snack, which means I’m not wolfing anything down. Win-win: two breakfasts, zero crazy rushing.
That’s the whole routine! I don’t sit and contemplate the secrets of the universe, I don’t update my memoirs, and so far no one has ever served me breakfast in the bath (it would probably just get soggy). My whole day is much more peaceful, and not tearing into my day the like tasmanian devil has even improved some of my key health stats (more on that in a far future post).
Do you take a moment to breathe before you start your day? Can you spare 5 – or 12 – minutes for your health? I challenge you to make the time – it’s worth it!