I have written and re-written my morning routine many times, always following bursts of inspiration from YouTube videos and blog posts of other people’s routines that work.
A while ago, I signed up for the email list of a fantastic site called MyMorningRoutine.com. Basically once a week or every couple days, I get an email to my inbox with someone’s morning routine. The entire site is dedicated to finding interesting people around the world with interesting mornings.
They feature the mornings of CEOs, top athletes, start-up founders, teachers and world travelers in the hopes of giving people inspiration in how to best start their days. I’ve read of marathon runners who wake up at 4:00am and I’ve read how to maximize my productivity before 7:00am and I’ve read when the best times to work out are and I’ve read about how a certain CEO likes to blast music through his house before the sun has even risen.
Now because I’m nowhere near cool enough yet to be featured on their site, I thought I could write my own answers to the questions here:
What is your morning routine?
My alarm goes off at 5:55am so that I have five minutes to shake myself out of sleep. The first thing I always do is plug in the little fairy lights that hang around my room into the socket next to my bed to lighten up my room. My bedroom faces the ocean and I’m high up enough that no-one peeks in, so I’ve never seen the need to shut my blinds.
I wake up and stretch and crack out all the joints in my body so that I can walk around without feeling stiff! The first thing I do when I get up is make my bed. If my bed looks messy and comfy, it’s much more of a temptation to hop back in. But a clean bed is something I am much more capable of leaving untouched.
Then I’ll switch on my morning playlist on Spotify in order to get my juices running. From this moment on I basically have music going all day unless I’m in class. Music is just an integral part of my life – when I’m studying, when I’m eating, when I’m in the shower or when I’m on the go.
I have to wash and moisturize my face right away to get rid of the feeling of sleepiness and grogginess and to really wake up my skin and make me feel alert. Then I brush my teeth, put on the workout clothes I laid out the night before (Nike Free 5.0 Runners, Lululemon leggings, Lululemon sports bra, and a cheap cotton Forever 21 v-neck).
The gym is a fifteen minute walk away and I love going in the chilly morning with just my music and no one else around to get my blood flowing. I get to the gym for when it opens at 6:30am for a 1-2 hour workout, depending on what I’m in the mood for, along with my gym playlist. I’m currently working my way through the Bikini Body Guides from Kayla Itsines plus throwing my own stuff in the mix. At the gym I drink the equivalent of three cups of water – I try and drink 8 in total per day (which I have successfully done for all of 2016 so far!).
After, I’ll walk back home, jump in the shower, blow dry and straighten my hair, and get dressed. Around 9:00am I make myself breakfast, which is almost always a smoothie bowl with a huge cup of coffee and another 2 cups of water. Once I’ve reached this stage of my day do I allow myself to check my phone. If I opened it up any earlier (save for my music), I would lose my brain to notifications and virtual attention grabbers, and my morning efficiency would go down the drain. I use this time to check emails, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and everything in the blogging world (Bloglovin, WordPress and the likes). And I do all this with that view pictured above, which is pretty nice too!!
After breakfast I brush my teeth and do my makeup so that I am ready to start my day. I usually make another cup of coffee, and then by 10:00am I sit down at my laptop to start working. And of course, my Spotify is on the whole time. I make a playlist at the beginning of each month of my current 20-30 favourite songs which is what will be my go-to for the mornings. If I really need to crack down and get stuff done, I’ll switch to a classical playlist.
How has your morning routine changed over the years?
Going to the gym first thing in the morning is a new thing. I used to go in the middle of the day but I hated having to get ready twice and then I found my mornings were groggy until I had had my workout. So I moved the workout to the morning and found myself much more awake and ready.
What time do you go to sleep?
I usually switch off everything by 10pm to get ready for bed. I take an hour to unwind and prep for bed away from any screens, and then I’m asleep by 11pm. I find that 7 hours of sleep works well for me; any more or less and I’m just groggy. and try to get into bed by 11pm so that I’m asleep before midnight. I never nap during the day – I used to but they were so anti-productive and left me more tired than when I fell asleep.
If I happen to be staying out late with social events, I don’t usually find myself home by 11pm bedtime. However, because sleep is everything (!) I try to plan my social life to end at a reasonable time.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
Yes! I always do half an hour of yoga before I go to bed at around 10pm to slow down and get ready for sleep. I also lay out my workout clothes for the next day, because I’m not awake enough in the morning to dig around in my closet for clothes.
Once I’m in bed, I like to try and read for a bit to make me drowsy. It has to be fiction, given that I spend my days reading hundreds of pages of university level non-fiction. Don’t get me wrong, terrorism and international relations are fascinating topics, but they’re dense.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
Yes, my alarm goes off at 5:55am to give myself 5 minutes to try and wake up so that I can be out of bed by 6am. I am guilty of hitting the snooze button for just a few minutes more in my comfy bed. But I am trying to get in the habit of taking the 5 minutes to wake myself up gently rather than trying to squeeze in more sleep.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
I don’t eat before the gym because I can’t workout on a full stomach that early in the day. I drink the equivalent of three cups of water during my workout and then once I am home and showered, I’ll have a smoothie bowl, a big cup of coffee and another 2 cups of water.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
Yes! I’m in the gym by 6:30am for 1-2 hours every weekday morning. I always start off with 30 or so minutes of high intensity running to get the blood pumping and my body warm and sweaty. Then I work my way through sets of exercises. Mondays and Wednesdays are leg days, so that will see things like lunges, squats, leg presses, stair climbs, weighted step-ups and one-legged squats on the bench. Tuesdays and Thursdays are arm days so I work on things like bicep curls, overhead arm raises, push ups, oblique work and my pecks. Fridays I just work on whatever I feel like needs an extra push. I also end each workout with abdominal exercises on the mat like medicine ball twists, sit ups, bicycle twists and plank. The very last thing before I leave the gym each day (and probably the most important) is to stretch! I do a full body stretch every day to make sure none of my muscles tense up and that everything is fluid and loose before I head home.
I usually take one weekend day off from exercise as my rest day (except my yoga, which remains a daily staple) and the other day, I love to go on a hike.
Do you have a morning meditation routine, and if so what kind of meditation do you practice?
Other than the brief stretches and rolling out of my joints, no. I don’t really have the time in the morning to meditate. So I do half an hour of yoga every night before bed instead.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning, or leave it until later in the day?
If I check anything before I’m sitting down with breakfast, I won’t be able to stop. And I have way too many notifications for that to be productive! So ideally I wait until I’m back from the gym, showered, dressed and sitting down with my coffee and smoothie.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?
I was using one of those sleep timer apps that wakes you when you’re in your lightest stage of sleep, but that had a half hour window and it was sometimes waking me up at 5:30am when I really didn’t want to be up until 6am. So now it’s just the standard iPhone alarm clock.
To keep my life organized I use Todoist which is probably the single greatest app I’ve ever used. There’s a desktop version and the app version which are constantly in sync with one another. My entire schedule is in there, along with all my to-do lists and grocery lists and deadlines and goals and bucket lists. You sort everything into various projects, like school and shopping and traveling and work. You can schedule things for one time occurrences, or for repeated occurrences (you literally type ‘every fifth day at 10am’ and it pops up) and you check off each item as you go. I like the idea of my life being organized into a to-do list, it’s very manageable.
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
I try to not check my apps until breakfast, but I do use my phone right away for my alarm and for my music. If there’s a notification sitting on my home screen that looks like it’s really important, then sometimes I’ll break my own rule and check it.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
Going to the gym, to get moving and feel healthy. And then catching up on all my notifications before I sit down to start working, else I’ll be tempted to be on Facebook and Instagram when I really should be focusing on school and work.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
3 cups of water at the gym, starting at 6:30am!
Do you also follow this routing on weekends, or do you change some steps?
Like I said, I don’t go to the gym on weekends. I still get up at the same time, but I’ll normally shower and eat before my workout because my workout tends to be something bigger like hiking so I’ll need to be prepared to be out of the house for longer.
On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
When I’m traveling, I use the travels as my workout (walking and hiking and all those activities you do abroad), but I’m definitely not as strict about getting my full workout in – that’s not the point of traveling! When I get home at the end of a trip though, I make extra effort to get myself straight back into routine, so I don’t have the chance to fall out of habit.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
I know this routine sees me at my most productive, so I try and maintain it. I’ve never missed a day at the gym, so I can’t really say what it’s like to fail at it (yet!).