Nailing your ideal morning routine is a polarizing process. Take it from someone who has tried and fallen off The 5 AM Club wagon time and time again. There is a lot of truth in the idea that morning routines are the key to getting your day off to a good start. That being said, they aren’t always #goals and they are certainly not perfect. After reassessing some of my own habits that had contributed to significant burnout, I went about establishing a 6 a.m. morning routine that works not only when I’m at my best but also when I’m feeling my worst.
The goal of a routine is that even when things go off the rails, it’s easier to hold on to a semblance of it. I’ve been doing the weekday routine below for thirteen weeks and it’s stuck. How can I tell? I feel no shame about having it go awry from time to time, remembering I can always start fresh the next day.
My 6 a.m. morning routine is possible because I prioritize sleep. Full stop. I don’t mean I am “perfect” about sleep, but I will cancel plans or move a deadline in advance to make it a priority (something I would have NEVER DONE pre-burnout). I tend to fall asleep between 9:45 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. If I’m asleep at this time, I’ll usually wake up before 6 a.m. and if I fall asleep a little later, I’ll wake up at 6 a.m. I don’t really compromise sleep anymore. I’ve learned it’s one of the best things I can do for myself.
I have a very gentle crescendo alarm on my phone. Sometimes I’ll sleep a little more if I didn’t sleep well during the night. I’m generally out of bed somewhere between 6 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. I’ll change into my workout clothes (these leggings from JoyLab at Target are my current favorite) and leave our bedroom.
I walk over to our workout room (which is also Joe’s office) and sit on the bike. For about thirty minutes, I pedal and wake up a bit more in the process. Sometimes it’s an intense workout and other times I simply casually pedal and look outside, depending on what my body needs on any given day. Afterward, I’ll sometimes stretch for a few minutes as well.
I find it’s easier to meditate after I move my body. I’ll sit next to my bike, still in my workout clothes, and meditate for ten minutes. I use the FitMind app to do this. (You can read my thoughts on the app in this post.) I don’t view meditation as something to be “good” at or do correctly. It’s more about the gentle act of bringing my mind back to awareness. Learning to do this intentionally is why I practice meditation daily. I find it’s easier to maintain this practice when I’m not beating myself up about doing it “perfectly” each time.
I go to the kitchen, get a cup of coffee, and make my kids’ lunches. (I’m the lunch person and Joe’s the breakfast person.) Usually, the kids are getting up around this time. We’ll spend a bit of family time together, I’ll help the kids get ready for the day, and I’ll help them get out the door with the nanny around 8 or 8:15 a.m.
I’ll tidy up the house with a podcast on. Sometimes this takes a few minutes and sometimes it takes thirty minutes.
If the house wasn’t a disaster, I’ll have time to get ready for the day. I’ll shower and put on skin-care products and some makeup. (For curious minds, my current skin-care routine is written out in this post!) I’ll usually just do my bangs at this time and style my hair later. Sometimes, if I woke up earlier than 6 a.m., I’ll have time to shower before the kids get up, but this doesn’t always happen.
I’ll sit down at my desk and do morning pages first thing. I used to use pen and paper for this process but now I use an app, aptly called Morning Pages. I’ve found that this is very important for me to do before getting started with work. Afterward, I’ll take out my planner, look at what I need to do for the day, and begin my workday.
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BY Kate Arends - April 25, 2022
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.