I don't have enough fingers to count the number of times I woke up in the morning 10 minutes before I had to leave, threw on whatever clothes I could find, POSSIBLY threw food together for breakfast and lunch and ran out the door, and still was late for work. There are just as many times that I woke up with plenty of time, laid in bed and did nothing productive, only to run out of time and do the same thing. I could never put my finger on what my problem was, I never wanted to be late or rushed in the morning. But it seemed every morning I ran into the same issue.
The answer was my routine, or lack thereof. I didn’t have any habits set in place to keep me accountable in the morning. I thought I was having “me time” by not doing anything and not having this in place. The problem with not having a morning routine, is that you don’t actually know what is going on.
Our brains LOVE to work on autopilot and that is exactly what a routine is. Our brain doesn’t have to operate at the same level anymore. Things become easier when they become a habit. For example, when you first started driving and tried to remember everything that you needed to do (Check mirrors, blinker, check blondspots, don’t even get me started on driving a manual!) it was really difficult and stressful. Eventually, your brain learned how to do all of these things without really thinking about them. It created habit loops as Charles Duhigg calls them in his book The Power of Habit. My morning didn’t have many of these, at least not until 10-15 minutes before I had to leave.
This was a major change I made to my morning during this pandemic. Aside from having a second job through most of the lockdown in NY, I was waking up early… Really early. On most days I would be up at 2:30 AM so I could start my routine and still be at work by 4 in the morning. The main things I did, and still do are:
- Drink a cup of water. I just spent 6-8 hours asleep, not consuming any water. The body is pretty dehydrated and could use a pick me up. Plus a cold glass of water is a great way to wake up.
- Rinse my face with cold water. If drinking the cold water didn’t wake me up, then splashing a little on my face certainly did. I don’t use any skin care products in the morning. I am trying something a little different based on a little research to see if it works better than cleansing twice a day. The natural oils built up over night, supposedly help protect your skin through the day.
- Tea time. I make a nice cup of tea, to help start the day. I try not to drink a lot of coffee since I go through terrible caffeine withdrawals.
- Morning pages. This is an exercise that I picked up during the quarantine. Each morning after I settle into the day and get to my desk with my tea, I open a journal. I write 3 pages of my stream of consciousness. That means anything that crosses my mind in the morning ends up on the page. Sometimes the pages are more of a “I have to do this and get this done. And this is exciting,” other times, they are petty, grumpy, nervous or scared thoughts.
I would like to mention that I try not to use my phone until after I finish my journaling. This ensures that the thoughts are my own and helps me clear my mind before I start my day of taking in information.
Creating this new morning ritual has helped me take control of my mornings. Now I don't feel rushed in the morning. My day starts with some time for myself and my thoughts. Once this routine is finished I move on to work. Now that I no longer have that crazy morning shift, I sleep a little later until about 4 ish and begin my day creating content for my business before I leave for work. These are just 4 things that you can try adding to your wake up routine that can truly help change your day! Use these four in your morning routine, or try something different. Your morning routine may not look like mine at all, but waking up 10 minutes before you leave probably isn't cutting it!