A successful day begins with intention, and flexibility makes it doable.
As a kid, I was always instructed to make a pit stop at the breakfast table before running out the door for school or playing with friends. The old saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” was uttered daily. After quickly stuffing a few mouthfuls of Weet Bix or Vegemite on Toast (Yes, Aussie kids, you know what I mean), I was out the door and on my way to catch the 8:04 am train from Clayton Station to my high school in Oakleigh.
Fast-forward to adulthood, and I’ve realized that pausing to sit at the metaphorical breakfast table isn’t just about eating breakfast. It’s about taking those first few moments of the day to gather myself and set some intentions. That time spent performing my daily morning ritual is where the magic happens.
Finding the right morning habits takes practice. I used to believe that my routine had to be a meticulously followed, step-by-step regimen. I thought it needed to include green juice, journaling, gratitude, meditation, exercise, prayer, coffee, visualization, etc. This belief worked especially for me well in 2020. The pandemic era allowed me a whole 3 hours daily to perform the following:
- 30 minutes of journaling
- 10-minute meditation
- 30 minutes of reading
- 10-minute visualization
- Brush teeth
- Gratitude Journal
- Walk to the cafe
- Have coffee
- Eat breakfast
It’s 2023, and that’s changed. Over the last three years, as my business has grown, things in my personal life have shifted, and with the whole back-to-the-studio readjustment, I’ve reevaluated what’s doable. My morning routine today looks more like a 5-step, rather than a 12-step, plan:
- Walk to get coffee
- Gratitude Journal
- 10 minutes of meditation
The world around me has changed, but I’ve ensured that the value I receive daily from my morning routine has stayed consistent. When the 2020 routine was no longer feasible, I shrunk it to the basics. And even if there are days where I just do one of those five things, that’s a win for me. As long as I give myself the time and space to feel centered every morning, I know I’m setting myself up for success.
Why is a morning routine so important? Many successful entrepreneurs swear by taking a habitual approach to the first hours of the day. There’s a science to back this up. A 2011 study monitored the routines and habits of a customer service team to see how their morning behaviors impacted their work day. It found that “… those who started out each day happy or calm usually stayed that way throughout the day, and interacting with customers tended to further enhance their mood.”
The study also showed the consequences for not taking the time to find your morning groove. It continued, “By contrast… people who started the day in a terrible mood didn’t really climb out of it, and felt even worse by the end of the day — even after interacting with positive customers.”
These findings also demonstrated a significant relationship between morning positivity and productivity. It stated, “Employees who were in a positive mood provided higher-quality service: they were more articulate on the phone with fewer “ums” and verbal tics, and used more proper grammar. Employees who were in a negative mood tended to take more frequent breaks from their duties to cope with the stress and get themselves through the day. These small breaks piled up, leading to a greater than 10% loss of productivity.”
Setting aside the time to embrace and enjoy a morning ritual fully gives you the building blocks for a better day. Your interactions with coworkers and customers will be more positive; you’ll feel sharper, more mentally prepared and more productive. The only thing left to do is decide what you value and how you can shape those values into a doable routine.
If you’re not sure what your personal morning routine should look like, then you can take a few hints from some of the world’s top performers. In My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired, authors Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander survey 342 authors, creators and entrepreneurs about how they start their mornings.
No two people are exactly alike in their morning routines because there’s no perfect routine for everyone. Just like we all had to adjust to the circumstance of the pandemic, then readjust when we went back to the office, giving yourself permission to be flexible to your needs and circumstances is key. Start with your core morning activities, and add what you need more when needed.
The essence of a morning routine isn’t to do the most, and it doesn’t need to be extreme. It needs to be doable on a daily basis. It’s your opportunity to carve out that very first part of your day in the best way possible just for you. Mastering your morning routine is the key to living a more positive, productive, and values-driven life.