I am not a morning person. Never have been and probably never will be. I’m not likely to ever catch that worm. But when moving house added the extra stress of a long commute to my morning routine, I felt my morning mood getting worse and worse. (Both my boyfriend and my colleagues can probably attest to that. Sorry guys.) Time for a change. Time to beat that morning mood monster. Enter this month’s mantra: Kick Morning’s Butt.
What the experts say
Like the geek I am, I started with some research. One theory particularly triggered me: In Laura Vanderkam’s “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast“, she states that mornings are the best time to tackle crucial tasks. Why? Because people’s willpower and control tend to get weaker throughout the day. We just get fed up with making the sensible choice. Salad for lunch, pizza for dinner. Makes total sense.
So what distinguishes successful peeps from the rest of us? They focus on the first things first, while they are fresh and have a full daily dose of willpower to spend. They get up (early!) and get cracking at:
- An important professional task
- A personal passion project
- Exercise or meditation
- Quality time with their loved ones
- Planning and strategizing towards their life goals
- Getting their daily dose of news
Aside from the lightbulb powered by Vanderkam’s vision on willpower, I naturally turned to some of the ideas of my life guru Gretchen Rubin, to makeover my morning:
- A good morning starts the night before, by simply getting to bed in time (I know ultimate #girlboss Arianna Huffington will agree).
- Loving actions inspire loving feelings (and what better to start the day with).
- To keep up with a new routine it should become a habit, like brushing your teeth. Something you don’t question, but just do.
- The one minute rule: for some people (represent!) outer order inspires inner peace. Any chore that takes less than one minute should be done immediately, which will eliminate a lot of clutter.
How could that work for me?
Let’s be real. Tackling all of the things “successful peeps” do in the morning, would just set me up to fail, and probably even feed the morning mood monster. Priorities and baby steps. So I thought about the key things that poison my morning: feeling tired, feeling rushed and feeling like I am wasting time being stuck in the car. Easy. Now, what are things that make me feel happy? Feeling loved, learning new things and feeling like I am making healthy choices.
With that in mind, and considering what I’ve learned from the experts, I resolved to try these seven baby steps to make-over my morning routine
- Sleepytime alarm: rigorously following Gretchen’s advice I set an alarm at 10 PM, to remind myself to GO TO SLEEP.
- Buy some time: I set my morning alarm 45 minutes earlier, to eliminate the rushed feeling and have the time to add a few new happy habits to my morning routine.
- Snoozers are losers: No use setting the alarm if you will snooze that extra time away!
- 7 min workout: I am a total victim of the willpower trap, and have had a hard time keeping up my evening work-out. So why not try a quick daily morning workout. (I quite like this app since it gives you a routine, meaning I don’t have to wreck my sleepy brain coming up with exercises).
- Start with love: Take time to snuggle with the BF and pet my cat, before starting my morning routine. I get a tiny snooze pass for snuggles :)
- Listen and learn: I’ve always been a fan of audiobooks during my commute, but mostly stuck to fiction. On my way back from work I just don’t have the mental energy to listen to anything too serious. But Vanderkam’s willpower rule would suggest this to be different in the morning… Enter my new “reading”-routine: marketing/business/personal improvement in the morning, shameless fictional indulgence in the evening. With an alarm at the hour to make sure I switch to the radio for the news :)
- 5-minute clean-up: Inner peace through outer order definitely applies to me. The general application of the one minute rule and one quick household task before I leave the house will surely add to my feeling of efficiency.
How did that work for me?
Did I magically become a morning person by sheer force of will? Not even close. But I did manage to slightly tweak my routine for the better. Let’s take stock:
Success: the sleepytime alarm (prevents losing track of time when you’re Netflixing the night away), getting up earlier, starting with love (that one is not hard to keep up :) ), the audiobook reading routine (since I took up this habit, I’ve feasted my ears and mind on “Start with why”, “Blue Ocean Shift”, “The subtle art of not giving a fuck” and plenty of episodes of “The Happiness Project podcast” on my way to work).
Work in progress: 7 minute workout (daily proves to be unrealistic, but on the upside: have done at least 2 of them every week. Still waiting for this to become like brushing my teeth though.. ), snoozers are losers (my bed is just so nice and warm…) and the 5 minute clean-up. These last two seem to be directly related to the amount of sleep I get, the former for obvious reasons and the latter because it is the first one I skip when I am running out of time.
So all in all, still some work ahead, but a good start! And I have to say: walking into the office on time (no rush!) and feeling like I already accomplished even the littlest of things, really did boost my morning mood. So there’s that.
What about you? Could your morning routine use a makeover?