simple steps to build a morning routine that works for you (and doesn’t require getting up at 5am!)

Your morning routine sets the tone for your day, ensuring that you’re productive and happy at work throughout the rest of your day.  We strongly believe there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all morning routine. Maybe you’re an early bird who thrives on waking up bright and early. Maybe you really need those extra few minutes of sleeping in. Do what works for you. Though everyone’s routine will vary depending on their needs, here are some (mostly) universal tips to help you build a healthier morning routine.

how to build a productive morning routine

get a healthy amount of sleep

As a working adult you probably know you should get a good night’s sleep if you want to perform at your best. The common refrain is 8 hours. However, according to Psychology Today, an average adult actually needs somewhere between 6½ and 9 hours per night. It depends on your body and what makes you feel best. A good night’s sleep is marked by: feeling refreshed when you wake up, not feeling sleepy throughout the day, and being able to concentrate on tasks easily. For some, hitting the 6 hour mark meets those needs, for others, closer to 9 hours are needed. Many of us have a habit of staying up late to watch just one more episode in our latest Netflix binge and make do with less sleep than we realistically should.

quit your snooze button habit

Do you need a chain of 5 alarms to go off each morning before you drag yourself out of bed? This isn’t a healthy habit. But you probably already know that. If you need more than one alarm to get up in the morning, there’s a good chance you’re sleep deprived. You’re not really doing yourself any favours claiming an extra 10-30 minutes of sleep in the morning in 5 minute increments. Even if you actually are able to fall asleep between alarms, your body isn’t entering the restful REM stage of sleep, and the unfinished sleep cycles can actually make you feel more tired! Do yourself a favour and go to sleep a little earlier than usual and see if you’re still tempted by the snooze button.

give yourself plenty of time

Leave yourself plenty of time in the morning to develop a relaxed routine. For many of us, getting up in the morning means waking up with just enough time to hop in the shower, grab something to eat and head out the door. Adding a little extra time into your routine can dramatically cut down on your stress and improve wellbeing. Whether that means taking time to make yourself an actual cooked breakfast, getting in some exercise, meditating, or catching up on some reading, having that little extra bit of time that ensures your morning isn’t all about the rush-rush to get out the door. This will help you relax and start your day on a less stressful note. It also ensures you have flexibility in your schedule. If it’s pouring rain or traffic is terrible, you have time you can cut into so you’re not stressed about making it to work on time.

add in a just-for-you activity

Maybe that means getting in a little early-morning exercise. Maybe it means a few extra minutes to relax in hot shower. Or perhaps you enjoy indulging in a thorough morning skincare routine. Whatever the case, find something small that you can do each morning that puts you in a good mood and helps you start your day off on the right foot.

make your bed

This little bit of advice might seem strange on the surface. How does making your bed really improve your morning? What does it matter, if you’re leaving for work and won’t be able to enjoy the after effects of your efforts, anyway? However experts agree it’s a good habit. It’s a small task that feels good to complete. Maintaining a clean, tidy space gives you an unconscious feeling of accomplishment, which lowers stress and improves your mood. According to experts, it also starts a chain effect of making other good decisions. When you make one good decision, it’s easier to keep up that momentum. If you’re still not convinced…it only takes a minute, so what do you have to lose?

hold off checking your phone

It’s safe to say that most of us are addicted to our phones. Raise your hand if the very first thing you do in the morning is check your phone. You’re not alone. According to one study, 61% of people check their phone immediately after waking up. It’s an unhealthy habit for a few reasons. First, you’re waking yourself up with blue light, which isn’t good for your eyes as you’re emerging from sleep. Second, waking up to missed alerts impacts your mental health. According to an expert, the constant influx of notifications ramps up stress and FOMO (that’s fear of missing out). It frames the start of your day in terms of what you’ve missed, rather than what’s to come. You’re already playing catch up and worrying about responding to missed emails. Though complete phone withdrawal isn’t realistic for most of us, starting your day with something other than looking at your phone is a step in the right direction.

have a nutritious breakfast

At the risk of sounding like cereal commercial… start your day with a healthy, nutritious breakfast. (Which is ironic, given most cereals are packed with sugar and don’t have much to offer in the way of nutrition.) Instead, load up on fibre and protein that’ll give you long-lasting energy throughout your day. Opt for choices like fruit, oatmeal, yogurt or eggs, rather than heading straight for carbs like a bagel, toast or cereal. These options can be easy to grab as you head out the door, which makes them all the more tempting. The downside is they can lead to a mid-morning energy crash (and an urge to snack) because they supply a quick burst of energy rather than longer lasting satiation that’ll tide you over until lunch rolls around.

stay hydrated

Most people pee first thing in the morning, so it’s important to rehydrate. Drinking a glass of water shortly after you wake up also helps boost your metabolism and digestion. So drink it before breakfast. Experts also agree that drinking your water at room temperature is better for you. Sorry, fans of ice-cold chilled drinks. Most people need to drink between 2 and 4 litres of water per day, though a glass should be good to start your day. The total amount you require will depend on factors like how active you are, how much you sweat, and your diet.

don’t emulate someone else’s routine

We’ve all read aspirational articles about how some extremely successful person has found the perfect morning routine and you just need to try it if you want to be as productive as them. From Oprah to Barack Obama, to Tim Cook, to Mark Zuckerberg, you can find a step-by-step morning routine for most successful people. Instead of trying to emulate these very specific (and let’s be honest, unrealistic) routines adopted by people who have the wealth and flexibility to do whatever they want, pick and choose what makes sense to you. Adopting Oprah’s morning routine won’t make you Oprah, so you might as well do what makes you happy.

adjust it seasonally

Your routine will probably shift a little depending on the season. In the winter you might need to account for extra time for packing on layers and trudging through snow packed streets. Maybe you prefer to get up a little earlier in the summer to savour your breakfast routine and enjoy the warm summer mornings. Taking stock of your routine regularly is a good idea to make adjustments and cut out bad habits you’ve slipped into, and make goals for yourself to improve your health and wellbeing.

don’t pack in too much

Don’t feel like you need to do everything in the morning. Some morning routines (often those aspirational celebrity or influencer routines!) suggest getting a bunch of tasks out of the way early in the morning hours. Most of us aren’t able to realistically commit to an hours-long morning routine without making serious sacrifices in other areas such as our sleep time. There’s no reason you have to go to the gym, read, meditate, make a three course breakfast, and complete a 12-step skincare routine each morning if it doesn’t fit your lifestyle.

make it a habit

The most important thing about building a healthy morning routine is to keep up with it! A good morning routine is one you can live with most mornings. Maybe occasionally you’ll sleep in on the weekends, but by and large, your morning routine should be something you can see yourself sticking with. It should also leave you relaxed and ready to take on the day. If you find yourself unusually stressed or anxious, there’s room for improvement!

 

want more tips to achieve balance in your life? check out our tips on improving your work-life balance.

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