Have you ever set a morning routine and started doing it really well, only to have it fall by the wayside in a matter of just days or a couple of weeks? Been there, done that MANY times, lol. I think there's a secret to a morning routine that is sustainable over the long haul, and I want to share it with you today.
I have a few pet peeves with other articles I've read about creating a morning routine:
1) They try to force their own ideas about what constitutes an important morning task onto me. There was actually one article entitled something like “11 things you must do each morning” — are you kidding me? ELEVEN?? (You need to read that with Julie Andrews' voice in your head, as she's reacting to the number of Von Trapp children: “Yes, but SEVEN?” Hear her? Yep, now say ELEVEN exactly the same.) Besides which, whenever anyone says MUST to me, I run the other way. Just sayin'.
2) They tell me that “a good morning routine will start the evening before.” (For this one you want to be Zuzu from It's a Wonderful Life saying “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings…” Hear that? Now: “a good morning routine, will start the evening before.” See how goody-two-shoes that sounds? Love it). But I mean, seriously? Then it's not a MORNING routine, y'all! I am NOT GOOD in the evenings. After dinner I just want to veg for awhile and then go to bed. PLUS I need to be relaxed enough to get to sleep and stay that way. Running around the house doing a bunch of chores to “start my morning routine” is not gonna be helpful in that regard.
Hey, if someone (not gonna be me) wants to do household stuff in the evenings to prepare for the next day, that's fine. Just call it an EVENING routine, hello, and be happy. Don't create some homemaking standard that makes today dependent on whether or not I got stuff done yesterday. A morning routine should stand on its own. Just sayin'. :-)
3) They make me legislate the exact time of day I do everything listed on my morning routine. Alarm goes off at time x, breakfast at time y, laundry at time z, etc. Whoever is abiding that closely to the clock either a) is not sleeping erratically due to menopause or having small children, or b) never has any interruptions during their morning hours. Either of these are not really reality for most of us gals out there, am I right?
This is what happens when we try to implement a morning routine like that:
We've all been there: we get fired up by reading yet another article about how setting and using a morning routine will revolutionize our productivity. Everyone will be a amazed at our cheerfulness and our clean house and how we have it all together, just because we have a morning routine.
So we sit down and think about it and write one out, and by golly we're gonna do this thing. The next morning we wake up when the alarm goes off and hit the ground running. This morning routine stuff is great!! Our body isn't really that thrilled about exercising at 5am, but we push through.
It takes longer to get dinner in the crockpot than we thought it would, but we make up time by skipping the shower. We WILL do this thing! In the afternoon we're a bit tired — but it's ok cuz dinner's in the crockpot, right? — but we're a bit grumpy and don't want to clean the kitchen after dinner.
The next morning when the alarm goes off we are not quite as excited, feeling like we're investing so much energy into our morning that there is none left for the rest of the day… and by day four or five we've given up altogether. Please, just let me sleep!
(Don't ask me how I can describe all this in such vivid detail…)
But having said all that, I do think having some sort of morning routine is helpful for our day, though it may not be a magic potion. I like not having any decisions to make first thing in the morning, because they have all already been made. This starts the day off with less stress — and that's always good.
The trick is to have those pre-made decisions be ones you can live with — day in, day out, whether you slept well or awful, whether you need to get out of the door or you are staying home.
Here's my secret to a sustainable morning routine: KEEP IT SHORT.
Pick ONLY 3 – 5 tasks to complete each morning. You just cannot make ALL of life better within 90 minutes or so each day, so figure out the most important things and focus on those.
How to decide what tasks make the cut? I use a two-fold approach. But guess what? You're gonna have to come back to find out what it is!! (Aren't I AWFUL??!) But seriously, this post is getting long, and I don't want you to fall asleep on me because you've been up since some ridiculously early hour trying to accomplish your endless morning routine task list.
My next post will go into the nitty-gritty of my own morning routine: how I decided which tasks to put on there and what those tasks are. (UPDATE: You can read it here: How to Determine Which Tasks Belong in YOUR Morning Routine.) For now, though, your job is to just FEEL RELIEVED that a morning routine does NOT have to be the burdensome list that many others say it must. You know me; I'm all about reducing stress by making things easier. A morning routine that is HARD is kind of defeating the purpose, don't you think?? See you back here soon! :-)