It’s already the end of the day. There’s so much more you wanted to do, but you’re burned out. There don’t seem to be enough hours to fit it all in. What’s worse is that when you try to name everything you’ve accomplished, the list seems pitifully short. What happened to all that time? Is something getting in your way? Why is it that some people seem to be lapping you in their success, and you feel like you’re practically standing still?
Something as deceptively simple as your morning routine could be making all the difference.
Okay, so you’re not a morning person. Some of us just aren’t wired to be at their best first thing in the AM. But that doesn’t mean you can negelect taking care of yourself in this crucial time of the day.
What makes the early morning so special and important for self care is that it’s the optimal time of day to accomplish things without emergencies coming up or people interrupting you. Why?
Because the people who normally cause those emergencies and interruptions are still asleep. You’re free! Wake up and smell the total freedom from all distraction! Savor it!
Rise early. Time is valuable! We’re not saying don’t sleep. But get to bed early enough that you’ll get enough sleep, even rising early. You’ll spend less of your day being burned out, and more of your day living life to its fullest.
Wake pleasantly. There’s nothing that says you have to put up with a grating, obnoxious alarm. Options abound in terms of alternative alarm methods, from the classic alarm-radio, to high-end sunlight systems simulate a sunrise right in your own bedroom. You can even wake up to the sounds of ocean waves or a babbling brook so that your waking process is gradual and soothing. Devices along these lines always come with some cost, but it can be a great investment. You’ll avoid sabotaging yourself with the snooze button, and waking up in the morning will become something you actually look forward to.
Exercise. This is a great time to get your workout in. You’ll start your day with the spring in your step that comes from being active, and you’ll arrive at work riding high on the endorphins. You can even expect to see an improvement in your mental performance and attention.
Eat breakfast (if you’re hungry!) Most important meal of the day, blah blah blah. You’ve heard this before. Some people, however, report that they just aren’t hungry in the morning, and that a meal first thing tends to drag them down through the day. Others feel like they just aren’t right until they’ve eaten. Listen to your body. Could you use that extra kick of energy? Then make the time for a bite of something. If you’re choking down a breakfast just because you’re “supposed to”, stop. Listen to your body.
Work on a personal project. Do you have hobbies or personal projects you’ve been meaning to work on, but never seem to have time for them? Morning can be the perfect time to work on a creative project or even build a little business on the side. Start the day with a feeling of accomplishment.
Email. Please, please, please don’t check your email first thing. Whatever it is, it can wait. Really. Set a aside a block of time in your day to handle email and whatever tasks come with it, but don’t exceed that block of time. Whatever it is, save it until tomorrow if you can. If once a day isn’t enough, set an AM and a PM block in your schedule so you don’t miss anything urgent. Do more than this at your peril. Email is one of those things that can easily swallow up productive hours and sap your morale if you let it.
Be lazy. Save your r&r for the evening, when your energy and time has already been put to good use, and you’re ready to ease into a rest period. Morning laziness will just stunt your momentum going into the day. You don’t have to spring out of bed to do jumping jacks or push-ups (though that’s not a bad way to go), but get on something productive first thing. Author Virginia Woolf didn’t even come down for breakfast without writing 1,000 words.
So get something done that’s important to you. It doesn’t have to be a top priority or something you dread, but get your mind and body prepped for a productive day with a little warm-up. By the time that simple task is finished, you’ll be more than ready to get on with the rest of your routine, all while looking forward to the other tasks ahead of you.
Use the snooze button. You want to wake up and have a positive, productive day, and your very first decision on that day is to … procrastinate? You’re sabotaging your whole day with your very first decision! On the other hand, you can ease into your day as pleasantly as possible. See Wake pleasantly above.
One change at a time
Whenever you’re trying to make a major improvement in your life, it’s important to pace yourself. You’ve probably experienced the frustration of springing from the gate on New Years Day or a birthday full of enthusiasm. We don’t recommend that you over-commit to big changes in your routine. Make it something simple. Do you tend to neglect breakfast? Consider adding that into your routine.
For example: need to do a workout? Hold off on joining that gym or buying piles of expensive equipment for the moment. Start with some body-weight exercises in the living room or a jog around the block.
Make just one of the changes above this week. See how it goes! Leave your results in the comments below.
If you have trouble sticking to your commitment, it’s a lot easier to get on top of one new habit instead of six all at once. You’ll be amazed at how much difference one or two changes can make in your day and in your success.
Tom Gunn is the blog editor and director of marketing for The Good Life Massage. You can find him online at tgunnwriter.com.