Remember when productivity YouTube was all about the morning routine? It remains an engagement-generating video topic today, but back in 2016, it was a hot HOT topic. I admit I was on the bandwagon. I read The Miracle Morning, constructed a morning routine using the suggestions, and it did improve my productivity and overall mood during the day.
The professional productivity hawkers would have you believe that “successful” people become so because of their morning routine. But as I’ve grown a little older, I’ve realised people aren’t successful because they have a morning routine. They have a morning routine because they are successful. That is, once you’ve reached a particular level of success, you’ve acquired the resources and time freedom that allows you to engage in an hour or more of navel-gazing and other self-care activities every morning.
I’ve actually gone backwards in the time freedom stakes since I discovered “the morning routine”. Having babies obliterated free time. However, it seems my kiddos are entering a stage now where they will often sleep until 6 am! I am back in a season where I can count on an hour between when I wake up (5 am) and when I start work (6 am) in which I can focus on myself uninterrupted.
That morning hour is precious, so I want to ensure I use it well. I’m not able to just copy and paste from THESE MORNING ROUTINE SECRETS USED BY TOP CEOs TO MAXIMISE PRODUCTIVITY AND WELLBEING and call it a day. I need to be a little more discerning.
I like how Kendra Adachi talks about morning routines in her podcast The Lazy Genius. She suggests routines are just an on-ramp to the state you want to be in. So rather than thinking about the routine as a list of objectives you “should” complete, think about how you want to feel at the end of the routine. Choose to include activities that will help you feel the way you want to feel when the routine is done.
As for me, I want to end my morning routine feeling energetic. I want to feel like I have taken care of my needs and therefore have all the space to take care of others.
The easiest way for me to achieve this is through movement—either a walk or a workout. I love the warmer half of the year just because the sun is already up at 5 am, and I can walk first thing in the morning. In winter, I have to stay in and make do with some strength training or yoga, as I like to save my daily walk for when the sun is out.
I’ve also dabbled in journalling and meditation. Some days journalling feels like the right thing; others, I’ve got nothing to write, just staring at a blank page, feeling like I’m wasting my time.
It still isn’t clear to me whether meditation benefits me or not. I’m not guaranteed to feel that much better from doing it. Some days, I wake up, and it feels like I can’t stand to be with my thoughts, so I seek stimulation all day long. Meditation can help stop that behaviour from escalating somewhat. It certainly doesn’t feel life-changing, as others have said.
I’ve certainly become more flexible than I used to be around this stuff. Yesterday my morning routine was to sleep an extra hour. That is what I needed to feel good at the end of my routine! I’ve also dropped the all-or-nothing thinking around morning routines. Because the routine helps me have a good day, it does not mean that not completing the routine will ensure I have a bad day.