Morning people have always annoyed me. The idea of getting out of bed, feeling cheery, exercising, making coffee and eating breakfast at home rather than in the car, along with all those other things morning people do, made me anxious. I've never been a morning person. Waking up before 8:00 am seemed like a chore and I could never get myself in a morning routine that didn't always feel rushed.
Then, one day, Owen came. This little human that relied on me for everything and didn't care one bit that I didn't want to wake up before the sun came up (or even two hours after sunrise). And, suddenly, without much of a choice, I became a morning person. I had a decision to make. I could either dread those 5:15 am wake up calls each morning (Saturdays and Sundays included) or I could embrace them and find a new normal in the mornings. Now, believe it or not, my mornings are my favorite part of my day.
Looking back, I think I was annoyed by morning people like my husband, who enjoyed waking up early, because I was actually really jealous. I wanted to be one of them, but once the alarm went off and I knew I could actually sleep for 45 minutes longer, I always hit the snooze and quickly drifted back to sleep.
Today, I'm grateful that mornings look a little different. Am I tired when my old school radio alarm starts singing to me while it's still dark outside? Absolutely! But, I quickly tell myself that 15 or 30 minutes of more sleep is not going to make or break my day. In fact, I have come to realize it's just the opposite. That extra half hour actually helps set me up for a better day.
I assume I'm not the only one who has been forced to become a morning person, so I thought I would share my AM routine that has treated me well over the last few months. Adjust it as you need to in order to fit your life and feel free to use it to help boost your mornings.
1. "Me" time
During the week, especially, give yourself at least 20 minutes to yourself as soon as you turn off the alarm. I know what you're thinking - you don't have time. Your mornings consist of you stepping out of bed and immediately pressing go. Plus, the thought of giving yourself 20 minutes to relax feels selfish. What you'll find, though, is those 20 minutes of time you spend focusing on nothing but yourself will make you a better spouse, parent, colleague and friend. Happify gives eight reasons why psychologists say we need alone time.
So, what can you do in those first 20 minutes of your morning? I stay in my pajamas, make my first cup of coffee, heat up a Jimmy Dean Delights breakfast sandwich in under three minutes and watch the news. My husband is up at this time as well, and it's one of the only times in the day we are able to hang out together kid-free.
This is your time to do what you please. You'll have a quiet house to drink your coffee, tea, water or whatever it is that gets you going in the morning. Make yourself breakfast. I'm not talking some time consuming, elaborate meal. Try oatmeal, a breakfast sandwich or a smoothie. Make an effort to eat something healthy and balanced that will give you energy. Whatever you do, don't grab a granola bar on your way out the door. Check out these 25 breakfast recipes that have only four ingredients from Daily Burn.
As you enjoy your breakfast, throw the news on, meditate, read for a few minutes or even just sit on your couch and do nothing. When is the last time you did nothing? Believe it or not, now you have the opportunity to do so every morning. Experiment with a few different ways to spend your "me" time and find what works for you.
2. Get the rest of the house moving
If you have kids, now is the time for them to rise and shine. No kids, but the dog needs to go outside? Get that leash ready. In other words, if any other person(s) or pets need your attention, bring it on. You're now grounded and centered and ready for the noise of the day.
Feed those kiddos and animals, get everyone out of PJs and dressed, get backpacks ready to go, etc. Take a look at some easy tips to getting the kids moving in the morning.
Wipe down the counters, throw a load of laundry in and make the bed. This is the time to get those chores finished that won't wait for later. However, they won't seem so bad because you've already had a peaceful and quiet start to your day.
3. Sweat a little
You've heard it over and over again - exercising in the morning will make for a better day. Yes, I always used to roll my eyes at this as well. As an evening exerciser, the thought of exerting more energy than I absolutely had to in the AM seemed brutal. Fast forward to today and I'm all about early workouts. There's a caveat to that, however. Rolling out of bed, putting tennis shoes on and going for a run is painful for non-morning people. That's why it's critical to have your "me" time first, because when you actually start getting that heart rate up, it doesn't feel so early anymore. Check out these reasons to get your butt moving earlier in the day.
Keep in mind, you don't have to go for a run. There are plenty of ways to get your blood flowing without pounding the pavement (or the treadmill). Go for a walk, run around outside with your kids, do a quick workout video or try yoga.
Here are some great fast workouts that might be worth a shot. What I've found works for me is a 30 minute walk with my son in the stroller, followed by 15 minutes on my Bowflex Max Trainer M3. Talk about the best sweat of your life in no time at all.
Aim for 30 minutes of exercise, but if you can only get 20 in, that's better than nothing. I guarantee you will have more energy throughout the day and be thrilled when 5:30 pm comes along and you can have a glass of wine instead of heading to the gym.
4. Get yourself ready for the day
After your workout, take a shower (I prefer cooler water to help bring my body temperature down) and get yourself dressed. I find that this is the time I come up with some of my best ideas. I'll be washing my hair and a new business idea will pop into my head. If only I didn't have to repeat it 100 times before turning the faucet off and finding a piece of paper to write it down on, I would be golden.
Take your outfit out the night before to avoid any indecision in trying to figure out what to wear. Have something for the kids to do while you're getting ready. Put a show on or give them a few minutes of coloring time.
5. Journal for five minutes
Yep - this is the one most people will skip. But, it's oh so important and I've just recently figured out why. Here's the deal: take a notebook and write a few things you're grateful for that morning. Then, write down your goal for the day (can be related to anything). I know t sounds so cheesy, but it works. Starting your day off by actually writing down what you're grateful for makes you happier throughout the day. Physically writing down your goals makes them real and leaves you more likely to work toward them.
I was recently introduced to the BestSelf Journal and it has changed my productivity. Now I plan out my day and actually get stuff done. I keep myself accountable, write down and keep track of the progress I'm making toward my goals, while starting and finishing each day by writing down what I'm grateful for. It puts me in a better mood and makes me more pleasant to be around.
5. Head out the door
Finally, it's time to really get your day started. As you get in your car and drive to work, consider listening to a podcast or book on tape. These are two great ways to get you motivated for your work day. iHeart Radio has podcasts on all kinds of topics from business to sports.
If you work from home, take 15 minutes to read. A good article or book will fit the bill just fine. It will help ease you into work mode. Blinkist is an app I use for 15-minute reads each day. See a whole blog post dedicated to it here.
I've also read a few great books lately, including:
Overcoming Underearning by Barbara Stanny
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Next on my list that have come highly recommended are:
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
Get in the habit of going through each of these steps during the work week and your outlook on mornings will change. You won't believe how much you get accomplished before you step out the door and your evenings will feel longer and less rushed.
Keep in mind that you can reorder these steps to fit your schedule. If exercising before you get everyone else out of bed works better for you, go for it. If you use your 20 or so minutes of "me" time to read, feel free to forego that step later in the morning.
The goal is to make you enjoy your mornings more than you ever have before and feel more energized. They key is consistency. The more you stick to a routine, the more it becomes a habit. From a former non-morning person, I promise if you give this a try, you will end up with a happier and more productive day.
Send me your thoughts and what's worked for you.
Kelli Anderson is the owner of Kelli Anderson Communications (KAC), where she helps businesses with content strategy, creation and management. She's a big believer that communicating your story effectively will have a positive impact on your revenue. Kelli lives in sunny Phoenix, AZ with her husband and son. She has an eye for refinishing old furniture and enjoys giving old pieces new life. She can be reached here.