Claiming your morning time can be nothing short of life-changing. Here’s how I am going to create a morning routine that sticks – and why you should, too!
July 2016, any morning at 7 a.m. My alarm goes off, but I already know I won’t be getting up. I have thought about setting it a bit earlier but can’t face the idea of seeing a “5” or a “6” on the display. I wake up just long enough to hit snooze… three or four times, before I give up and just turn it off. My boyfriend’s alarm is due to go off in half an hour. I might as well sleep until then.
Just not a morning person?
This probably sounds familiar to anyone who does not think of themselves as a “morning person”. I wouldn’t have thought much of it a few years ago, either. I’d have said “I’m just not a morning person.”
But then, something happened. For a brief period in the first half of 2016, I was amazing at mornings (mostly thanks to Caylee). I was up before the sun, at 6 a.m. or even earlier. I was getting class readings done, having epic breakfast and taking peaceful, relaxed showers – all before the boyfriend even so much as rolled over. Mornings were “me time” and they were incredible.
So what happened? I really don’t know for sure. It was a combination of slacking on getting up when the alarm first rang (the snooze button is possibly the worst thing that can happen to your morning routine!) and slacking on going to bed at reasonable times. Sometimes I had good reasons, such as wanting to spend a bit of quality time with the boyfriend. Most of the time I just got lost on Netflix or Facebook, though. As a result, I started pushing back my getting up time. If you go to sleep after midnight, it’s not reasonable to expect that you’ll make it out of bed by 6 am, unless your body naturally needs very little sleep. Mine, alas, does not. Anything below seven hours and I’m running on a deficit all day.
Enough whining – I’m planning to take back my mornings. Join me! I promise it’s worth it. Here’s how to get started.
How to create a morning routine
Decide on your parameters
Getting up early means different things to different people. Decide what your wake-up time should be. For example, I am aiming for 6 a.m. – yours may be later or much earlier than that. Only you know what time you need to get up to establish a routine that works for you.
Once you’ve set your getting up time, it’s equally important that you figure out what time you should be going to bed. Make sure you get enough sleep! It will be that much more difficult to create a morning routine that works for you if you aren’t getting enough sleep!
Why should you bother getting up much earlier than your comfort zone? Because I told you to?
Definitely not. Of course, I want you to trust me here. But that alone is not going to be enough to get you out of bed when the sun isn’t even up yet. Unless you can answer the question “why should I?” for yourself, you will very likely fail.
I like to split incentives in two categories: Reasons and rewards. In order to create a morning routine that sticks, you’ll need both.
Your reasons are why you’re still here, reading this article. They’re your motivation to consider taking control of your mornings. Whether it’s a desire to have a bit of time that’s just yours, or that big project you can’t seem to find the time to work on, or maybe a creative habit you’d like to establish if only you had that extra hour in your day.
Rewards are the fun part. This is where you can get creative. Getting up early is not easy, especially in the beginning, and you deserve a reward for doing it and sticking with it! So, what do you want to reward yourself with? Maybe you want a fancy shower gel for that morning shower. Or you prepare a mug and your favourite tea in the evenings so you can enjoy a delicious cuppa first thing in the morning. What about reading ten pages of a great book while still tucked under the covers?
Your reward could be anything that’s enjoyable and fun. If possible, it should be the first thing that you do when you get up. That way, after a while, your brain will associate the ringing alarm with a pleasurable event it can look forward to. However, make sure that you don’t focus on the reward so much that you forget clarifying the reason! This is a mistake I made early on. After a while, I got incredibly frustrated because no reward I could think of would reliably make me get up in the mornings. Looking back, I realise I got so caught up in thinking of rewards that would “work”, I completely forgot why I even wanted to create a morning routine in the first place.
This may sound weird, but I promise it helps. It’s not about willing your morning routine into existence, law of attraction-style, or anything like that. (I study science, we are not going to get spiritual on this blog!)
There is a power to visualisation you can harness for your mornings. Think about your alarm going off. Picture how you’d like your ideal morning to go. How do you feel? What do you do? Make it as vivid as possible. Feel how cool the floor is when your feet first touch it, and how warm the bed is. Maybe you put on cosy socks, or you grab a blanket before you head in the kitchen to make tea. Then what do you do next? Do you read a book, paint, turn on your computer to work on something? The more vividly you can visualise your morning, the better.
Visualisation works – basically – because our brain cells don’t seem to be too good at telling the difference between something that’s vividly imagined, and something that is really happening. That’s why athletes use visualisation techniques, too. Essentially, when you’re picturing your morning routine, you’re practising it.
Let’s get started!
That’s it, really – this is all you need to create a morning routine for yourself. My personal challenge is to have this figured out by the time the new semester rolls around in October. That will give me some time to tweak around the routine and see what fits best. Join me – let’s make the most of our mornings!
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