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Morning Routine: Should You Have One?

Tips from a recovering night owl

As far as I can remember, I considered myself a night owl. One of those nocturnal souls that roams around in the night unable to sleep before midnight. In those days, the dawn was as foreign to me as the surface of the Sun; I knew of its existence but was never able to catch a glimpse of it.

My mornings during the work week would consist of hitting the snooze button at least 3 times, followed by a realization that I only had 45 minutes to get to work, followed by a series of acrobatics to get my sleepy self into a decent outfit before running out the door. This was hardly the I-am-the-creator-of-my-destiny feeling I was aspiring to.

I used to blame it on the fact that I was born in the evening: around 8pm according to some records and my parents. Thus, for many years I felt I was destined to be excluded from this exclusive group of people who called themselves morning people. Just the thought of it sent shivers down my spine. What? Waking up before 8am? Why? I couldn’t conceive of it.

But I was also secretly jealous of those who would go to sleep at a decent hour and would do a gazillion things in the morning from working out to reading books to prepping their own meals. And then I read this quote:

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.

-John C. Maxwell

It dawned on me that I didn’t really have a daily routine at all, and definitely not a morning routine. So, I decided to change this. I embraced my secret envy for morning people as motivation to change and set out to become a morning person myself. Now, I’m not going to lie and say it was easy. It was not. And like any other habit, it took time to establish, in my case months, and there were setbacks along the way, especially if I had to attend dance events that went into the wee hours of the morning when I was a professional dancer.

The Benefits

The benefits have been short of miraculous – from losing weight to increasing my income to reading more books – and in many ways I feel like a different person. Nowadays, the first 60 minutes of my morning look like this:

Here are a few of the positive effects of having a morning routine:

1. Spark Creativity: get those creative juices flowing through journaling or drawing.

2. Develop mindfulness through quiet time and meditation.

3. Learn something new. How many books can you read in a year if you read 20 minutes every day?

Tips to get You Started

If you’re interested in developing a morning routine, the first thing I’ll recommend is something I heard Arianna Huffington say in an interview:

“A great morning starts the night before.”

There’s nothing worse than waking up early when you haven’t had a good night’s sleep. Sleep is king. Once you check that box off the list, here are three other tips the experts recommend:

Tip #1: Make it a routine. Try to have the first hour of your day vary as little as possible with a routine. This will help you feel in control since you know what the first 60 to 90 minutes of your day look like.

Tip #2: Make this your time. Whether it is writing, reading, a hobby, or a personal project, the morning is a time for you to work on it. Don’t wait until the evening when you are drained from work to invest in yourself. Do it first thing in the morning. When you do this, you are happier throughout the day because you have done something that makes you happy.

Tip #3: Tackle your largest project or task for the day in the morning. 

“If the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.” 

-Mark Twain.

The most important thing about a morning routine is that it sets you up for success; whether it’s working out first thing in the morning or simply spending time in silence or prayer, it has to work for you. And when it does, your days will be more rewarding and productive.

I’m telling you if I, a recovering night owl can do it, so can you!

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