Master your morning and master your day.
Every great day starts off with a great morning.
We all have heard some phrase that tells us we should be better about our morning routine, but watching someone else’s morning routine doesn’t really help me master my own.
I’ve read books about how high achievers start their morning. How there’s a transcendence they get at 5 am before the world stirs and pressures them to do their tasks. All of them carried a common theme and that's what I wanted to use to analyze how I could improve my mornings and maybe you can too.
Make time for these four activities and you'll have mastered your morning.
01: Time for Health
We can’t stress this one enough. How you start your day will be how you view your day. If we start it in a rush without prioritizing our health, we’ll probably continue that trend for the rest of the day. On the other hand, if we make health a priority early, we’re more than likely going to continue prioritizing health for the remainder of the day. We’ll feel good and want it to last.
Currently, I get to the gym at about 6 am because once the family is awake they become that top priority. Whether it's a light workout or a heavy strength session, I feel good about getting my body moving early.
02: Time for Presence
Along the same lines as physical health, we have to check in with our mental health. Make sure your morning has time set aside for being present. Noticing the sounds around you. Noticing the breath come through your nose and into your lungs. Noticing the racing thoughts and letting them come and go. Spending just two minutes a day practicing presence continually shows tremendous results for calming and relieving stress.
I'm a huge advocate for meditation. My personal favorite app to help with this is Waking Up and I also use the Calm app. After incorporating this into my daily (if I'm being honest it's more like weekly) habit, I can quickly notice when stress is starting to build up.
Notice we didn't say you need to be a meditation master, but you may need to make sure you carve out some time to breathe, relax and just be present with yourself. Feel free to journal about how this experience went...and since you have your journal out why don't you make time for...
03: Time for Planning
The main reason why so many claim their mornings help them be successful is because it allows them to plan for the day. They can think through what’s a high and low priority. The strategy we use is to write down three activities that need to get done today and put them at the top of your list. Just three activities. The key is to make sure they can be finished today so you can’t put a five-day activity on your morning to-do list. Break down the important tasks and then think about the time you will complete these activities.
I come from a project management background and I love lists. So I tend to go overboard with planning. This has definitely been a learning experience for me to allow myself to just schedule what can be realistically accomplished in a day without adding stress to my overall week. That's why I settled on the top three activities. Any more activities and I feel like I didn't accomplish enough because I didn't check them off my list. This brings up a good point... don't be afraid to schedule in relaxation time and time for romance. This is about thinking through the progress YOU want to make.
04: Time for Progress
There’s no better time to make some advancement to your goals than the present. It’s early in the morning and your distractions will be limited, so utilize this time to check off a few of your most important tasks. If you can get one or two things completed, the rest of the day will feel much less stressful.
A secret hack I do to make me feel better is to write down one activity I know I can accomplish in less than 10-15 minutes. This way I go from planning to working and I start the day by checking something off. It's an easy way for me to get my feel goods early in the morning.
I realize not everyone is a morning person and not everyone has time in their day to include these four items. However, I would challenge everyone to see if you could go to bed 20 minutes earlier or maybe sneak downstairs before the kiddos are awake earlier to ensure you have a better start to your day.
Good luck mastering your morning to set yourself up for success.