I will preface this post by saying that I am fully aware that everyone is NOT a morning person. I get it. The truth is that some of us would rather walk on broken glass than wake up before dawn. I also know that there are many people who work a second or third shift, and are usually just going to sleep when others are waking up to start their day. If either of these applies to you, then this post may not be up your alley (although, you can definitely forward it to a friend!). However, if you belong to the former group (those who hate mornings), and believe that you may benefit from having a morning routine, I encourage you to keep reading.
I have always been an early riser, usually waking up before 7 am most mornings. Before realizing the difference between simply waking up early, and having a morning routine, I used to spend those early morning hours rushing around the house, frantically getting ready for my day.
My 9-5 schedule required that I leave home no later than 7:30 am to get to work on time. I would fail miserably at trying to squeeze several tasks into my morning, including devotional and prayer, choosing an outfit, packing my lunch and, more times than I care to admit, stopping for gas!
I am sure you have already guessed which task was often neglected. Yes, many mornings, I found myself justifying why I just didn’t have enough time to spend with God. Needless to say, my mornings were usually an indication of how the rest of my day would go.
After years of unproductive mornings, I decided that I had enough. I began reading articles and watching YouTube videos on others’ morning routines. I used the information I found from my
Google searches extensive research to create my own simple, straightforward morning routine. Here are 5 practical tips to help complete your necessary tasks efficiently so that you can get out and start your day.
Tip 1: Plan Ahead
It goes without saying that having a solid plan for the week or day ahead is a must. Planning ahead is one of the most effective ways to save time and sanity on weekday mornings.
Two tasks that you can immediately eliminate from your morning routine are packing your lunch and choosing your outfit. The extra time you spend on these tasks can easily set you back when you are trying to get out the door in the morning.
If you are up for the challenge of planning for the entire week, consider taking a few hours on Sunday afternoon to plan out and prep your lunches. I often choose simple options like bagged salad, tuna, soup, sandwiches, and fruit. Another lunch option is leftovers from dinner; however, I like some variety in my weekly meals, and opt to have leftovers for dinners instead of lunches.
If planning an entire weeks’ worth of meals seems too overwhelming, consider a second meal prep session midweek to prepare your lunches for the remainder of the week. Meal prep containers are a great way to easily portion out your meals so that they will be ready to grab and go. If meal prep is not for you, at the very least, pack your lunch the night before.
I also suggest you take some time to try on and iron all of your outfits for the week. I cannot tell you how many times I have spent way too long in the morning trying to decide what to wear to work, only to choose a top or pants that no longer fit! So, even if you think it fits, try it on!
A few other tasks you can plan ahead for include filling up your gas tank for the week; creating an area near the door, with your purse, tote, coat, shoes, etc. These are a few small tasks that can really help save time in the morning.
Sacrificing a few hours on a Sunday afternoon to prepare for the week ahead will not only save you time, it will also make for a much smoother, peaceful start to your day.
Tip 2: Get Enough Rest
Now, I believe that there is a direct correlation between going to bed late and having difficulty waking up early. I know that there are many people who are adamant about getting by on 5 or 6 hours of sleep. Maybe you can. But, if you have to hit the snooze button 10 times before you finally drag yourself out of bed, you have unnecessarily wasted a good portion of your morning.
If you are a night owl, I suggest you do a self-assessment. After staying up late, how do you usually feel in the morning? Do you wake up refreshed, feeling well-rested? Or, do you feel sluggish and tired, even after you have been awake for a short while? If your answer is the latter, it may be that you are not getting enough sleep. Consider going to bed 30 minutes earlier every night for a week, then assess how you feel in the mornings. Each week, you can make your bedtime even earlier until you have decided on a time that makes sense for you.
You’ll notice that I did not suggest a specific time to call it a night. This will vary for each person, depending on your work hours and after work activities. However, we all should reach a point in the evening where we complete our tasks, turn off all distractions, and prepare ourselves for rest. Remember, we want to thrive, right? We don’t want to just get by on inadequate sleep just because we choose to cram too many activities in our evenings.
Tip 3: Minimize Distractions
There are so many things vying for our attention every minute of the day. It is so important to be aware of the oftentimes mindless behaviors that can interfere with your productivity.
Think about the things that keep you up late. Are you staying up late to binge watch Netflix documentaries (my hand is raised!)? Do you spend the late hours scrolling social media feeds? Are you using the evening hours to catch up with your friends and family? While these things are fine in moderation, they should not be robbing you of your sleep.
Consider using your smartphone’s do not disturb feature that blocks any calls and alerts you receive after a certain time. If you are concerned about missing an important call, you can add certain contacts to a ‘favorites’ list so that those calls will come through, or, you can set any calls to come through after back to back calls. Isn’t technology great? It’ll keep you up late and help you get some sleep!
This also applies in the morning. If you tend to reach for your phone as soon as you open your eyes, it is likely a distraction. Chances are, your friends have not done anything so earth-shattering between 10 pm and 6 am that you just have to find out about as soon as you wake up. Instead of lingering in bed checking your social media feed, make the most of your morning by saving the status checks for later.
Tip 4: Make Time For Breakfast
Skipping breakfast in favor of a cup (or three!) of coffee is not uncommon these days. In our current single-serve coffee age, it is easy to pop a coffee pod in your Keurig coffee maker, enjoying several cups before you’ve left the house.
Now, I won’t get on a soapbox about how breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I think we all know, or have heard, about all of the benefits of starting your day with something nutritious. But, this post isn’t about the importance of breakfast; it is about having a productive morning routine.
In that regard, I want to pose another reason why having breakfast is important: it saves you time. Think about it. Have you ever left home for work, got in your car, then felt the hunger pangs hit? What do you do? You search for the nearest drive-thru to grab something quick. Only, it’s not quick because there are 15 cars lined up ahead of you. Or, maybe you decide on Starbucks. After all, you could use a fourth cup of coffee. But, wouldn’t you know it, there’s a long line in there, too. Sigh. But, you’re hungry, so you wait. And, before you know it, you are running late.
A quick bowl of cereal or oatmeal with fruit will not only nourish your body; it will also save you time in the morning. During your Sunday afternoon meal prep, try making a big pot of oatmeal and portioning it out into containers. In the morning, add your favorite milk, cinnamon, and sweetener, and pop in the microwave. You’ll have a nutritious breakfast that took no time! One of my favorite make-ahead breakfasts is egg muffins. Beat 6 eggs, add salt, pepper, and anything else you’d like. Portion into a muffin pan and bake for about 15-20 minutes. You’ll have a delicious egg muffin that you can enjoy with your coffee. Try it out. After all, it’s breakfast. You have to eat at some point, might as well get it out of the way!
Tip 5: Create Consistent Time With God
There are many verses in the Bible that reference early rising. One of my favorites is Psalm 5:3:
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
I believe that it only makes sense that we begin our day thanking God for the blessing of another day of life. However, I know that it is common to wake up in the morning, so consumed by worry about the day’s challenges that we forget to praise God for waking us up.
I admit that I sometimes wake up dreading the day ahead, filled with worry and anxiety, because of the many tasks I need to complete. This makes it even more important that I make a daily effort to spend time with God.
One of my favorite tools for creating consistent time with God is The Bible App, by YouVersion. There are hundreds of devotionals and bible studies, easily accessible, for you to choose from and pull up on your smartphone or tablet. If you are interested in reading through the entire Bible, The Bible App also offers numerous bible reading plans that will assign certain chapters each day. I especially enjoy the feature that sends a reminder to your phone to complete your devotional for the day.
I also encourage you to create a space in your home (not your bed!) for your Bible study and prayer. Set it up with your favorite journal, pen, a blanket…whatever creates a cozy place to dig deep into God’s word. I believe that having a designated place for your time with God will help create more consistency in your daily time with Him.
I can say with certainty that, no matter what the day brings, I always notice a difference in how I respond to it when I started the day by spending time with God. There will always be situations and people who will test our patience and faith on a day-to-day basis. However, being able to draw from the scriptures and wisdom gained that morning will help us respond in a Godly way.
Your time is the most precious asset that you have. Implementing these tips will help ensure a successful morning routine and, in turn, create a more productive, peace-filled life. Reviewing the list below, which tip are you going to implement in your morning routine?
- Plan ahead
- Get Enough Rest
- Minimize Distractions
- Make Time For Breakfast
- Create Consistent Time With God