Everyone has a morning routine of some kind - even if it’s just “get up before the kids.” But I think it should be intentional and you can find yours by experimenting and learning what others do.
If you have a morning routine, you know that the philosophical purpose behind it is to set you up for a good day. That’s great, but what does that mean? What do you need to do in order to set yourself up for a good day?
I have a good start to the day if I indulge in a couple things that I enjoy and accomplish a few tasks that help me achieve my personal goals. If I do these two things, I have the motivation to do the not-so-fun tasks throughout the rest of the day.
My day starts at 5am. I know. I know. It’s super early. I get up that early for the quiet and to give some space for Joe to take care of himself. That’s how I see this time. It’s time for me to re-energize in order to be a better person for my family, at work, and in life.
On a typical morning, I will put on some old clothes for working in the wood shop or around the house. If we have people staying with us or I have an early meeting, I’ll go ahead and take a shower and get dressed for work at this time. I’m usually starting the following routine by about 5:15 and 5:30 respectively.
When I come downstairs, the first thing I do is put in some headphones and pull up the YouVersion on my phone. I’m trying to read the Bible every year and I do so by listening to the audio version of a 365 day plan. I’ll listen to the reading while I make my normal breakfast - two eggs and a banana.
I’ve had people recommend this to me numerous times and I always shrugged it off as not important. I’m not sure why, but one day I decided to give it a try. I do my best to clear my mind and focus on the present moment for about ten minutes. It amazes me how hard it is to not think. That’s why I continue to meditate. It helps me work the self-control muscle of directing my thoughts and gain focus throughout the day. And I use the free version of Calm to help with background noise.
I have a list in Omnifocus by this name. It’s specifically geared towards this time in the morning. I enjoy woodworking as one of my hobbies and this is the only time I take to create dust from hardwoods. When there are house projects that I’m trying to get done quickly, I’ll sometimes use this time to work on those as well. 30 minutes is about how long I’ll spend here.
I take about 30 minutes in the morning to write for myself or for this blog. Writing has been key to learning about myself and figuring out what I think about things in the world. If I want to form an opinion on something or understand something, I’ll take time in the morning to write about it. Sometimes that becomes a blog post and sometimes it ends up in my journal.
I do my best to avoid work email until after I’ve completed my writing. If I don’t, my mind starts solving work problems but I’m not ready to start work yet.
I will check my personal email before I start working on my @Before Hours list. I like to think through my responses to those while woodworking.
I’m part of a men’s group at church that meets once a week at 6am. My morning routine is usually cut short on those days so I’ll either take a break from it for a day or continue when I get back.
I travel for work once in a while and the most important thing I can do while traveling is try to maintain this routine as much as possible. It’s especially important to start the day right at those times.
I start shutting down around 9pm. That’s when I start my evening routine and set up the next day. The early morning goes a lot smoother if everything is in place the night before.
If you look through this article carefully, you’ll notice a lot of qualifiers in my sentences — “do my best,” “try,” “sometimes.” That’s because this is a relaxed and fluid routine. It’s ok if I miss something on a morning. It’s ok if one piece takes longer than I want and have to cut something else short. The point is to set myself up for a good day. It doesn’t make sense to start the day by stressing because I spent too much time in the wood shop. I just go with it and let it kickstart my day.