I love reading about how other people spend their mornings, don’t you? I find a certain amount of peace in knowing that people, real people, can make time for their creative pursuits.
I have never been able to maintain a creative morning routine. Until now.
My work schedule has recently changed from PM to AM, and my mind almost instantly clicked into routine mode.
There's something about the structure of starting and finishing work early that really works for me. And, since I work from home, structure isn't something that I'm all that used to. I just love it.
I’ve also been on a mission to take care of myself better than I ever have, so I’ve incorporated things that I like and things that make me feel good.
So here’s how it looks now:
- 5:45 AM - See my husband off to work and walk around the block (roughly .4 mile)
- 6:00 AM - Prep breakfast and plan my work (and housework) for the day
- 6:15 AM - Write for an hour - doesn’t always have to be productive writing, as long as it’s writing.
- 7:15 AM - Take a 5-minute meditation break. If I’m feeling stressed, I’ll make it 10.
Then I start my workday! I take an hour lunch break around 10 AM, do another walk around the block, and then some days I’ll give my mom a call as I get back to work. I also try to wait until 10 or 11 AM to have my coffee, tea being my drink of choice for every other hour of the day.
The only downside is that I often find myself working even after my husband gets home - not always because I have to. I just get stuck in work mode and transitioning to my relaxed self isn’t easy.
What do you put in a morning routine?
I’ve been trying to establish some sort of routine for years. Most of the time, the failed routines look like this:
- Wake up and run three miles
- Shower, then write for an hour
- Do yoga for an hour
- Eat a huge healthy breakfast
- Go to work
Do you see where I went wrong? I never kept this up for more than a day.
This is why we can’t have nice routines.
So for my new routine, I sat down and wrote out all of the activities that make me happy or allow me to feel productive. I wrote down projects I wanted to work on and habits that intrigued me (but that I never “had time” for).
I picked reasonable morning activities from that list, then I jotted down everything I wanted to do, minute by minute, of each day. I did this before my schedule even changed, so that I didn’t have the chance to think this was impossible.
I know it sounds idealistic (and yes, impossible), but this actually worked for me. I started off perfectly on day one, and although I’ve had many days of total non-routine, I’ve been able to pick right back up where I left it.
I think what made it stick was the amount of kindness I allowed myself while I was creating this routine. This routine made me excited about waking up 4 hours earlier! So here are a few words of encouragement if you want to develop your own routine:
If you work at 11 AM, and don’t see yourself getting out of bed before 10:30, don’t force it. A 5 AM wake-up won’t last long if it doesn’t feel at least a little natural.
Work with yourself (and your rhythms) to make the routine feel like it fits, don’t expect yourself to change to fit an entirely new routine.
If you’re a late starter, push everything back by a few hours. If you’re a night owl, it’s okay to save your creative hours until later in the day. Everyone is different, and that’s okay.
If you can’t do a lot, do a little
This one was a tough one for me - the queen of trying to do it all. Again, if you push yourself to do everything every day, you’ll burn out.
Instead, if you want to explore a new habit (like meditation), start with a small five minutes. Read three pages in a book instead of 30. Progress is progress.
When you’re scheduling it all out, make sure you offer yourself some space to breathe. My schedule has a 15-minute ebb and flow to it in the mornings, but I always have a hard stop at 10 AM.
Strictly because I have to make sure I eat lunch, or I’ll just keep working until my eyeballs fall out.
Because of this flow, I can start my day with low stress and a whole lot of positivity. So build in some extra time to wake up, extra time for your commute, extra time for a second cup of coffee. Whatever keeps you calm, whatever mini-luxury you can allow for yourself, do it.
I know that my routine and my job looks different than many people, but I do think that there are elements of this that everyone can use. I’ve seen too many people rushing into their mornings, already drenched in stress and negativity.
Heck, I’ve been that person.
So be kind to yourself this Monday morning, and I hope this helps get you thinking about how you spend the most pivotal parts of your day.