How to Build Your Ideal Morning Routine

Many experts have extolled the benefits of having a morning routine. They encourage people to wake up early, drink lemon water, complete a passion project, and exercise — all before 9 a.m.

No morning routine should look exactly the same. But by thinking through the elements of a great morning, you can create a routine that works for you. This post will guide you through that decision making process. Choose the elements that make sense for you and your lifestyle. Build a morning routine designed to energize you, create calm, and get you out the door (or into your home workspace) in time to start the day.

Do I have to get up early?

Many early-morning enthusiasts will tell you to wake up at 5 a.m. in order to have the most productive morning. But that may not be right for your body clock. Consider identifying your personal sleep chronotype before planning your morning routine.

Sleep chronotypes are an idea discussed by sleep specialist Michael J. Breus. According to Breus, each of us falls into one of four categories that explain our energy highs and lows. His four chronotypes are:

Lions: early birds

Bears: the average human sleep schedule; not too early, not too late

Wolves: night owls

Dolphins: difficult sleepers

Each chronotype is going to have a different kind of morning routine. I’m personally a lion, and I like to have at least two hours to myself before getting ready and heading out the door. But that may differ for you, and that’s ok. You can take Breus’s quiz to discover your sleep chronotype and decide what time is best for you to start your day.

What to include in your morning routine

Mornings can be a great time to prioritize the habits you’d like to incorporate into your life. It’s often a quiet time before work demands have begun. There’s also little online content to distract you. When planning a morning routine, think about the things you wish you could do, if only you had more time. Choose one or two of the most important ones and try to fit them into your mornings.

You should also prioritize those habits that will help you have a productive, calm day. Perhaps that means making time for a cup of coffee or a hot breakfast. For others, a shower in the morning gets them going. Think about how your current mornings are going and consider whether each element supports a calm start.

Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your morning routine:

Exercise

Consider if you want to include exercise in your morning routine. Exercising in the morning makes it more likely you’ll follow through. If you save exercise for later in the day, it’s easier to come up with excuses or you may simply be too tired from a long workday. Exercising in the morning also helps increase your energy during the start of the day.

One drawback of morning exercise: showering. If your shower routine takes a long time, trying to fit it into the morning can create a hectic rush out the door. Nighttime showers save a lot of time for other morning activities.

Reading

For many, the morning is uninterrupted time to get things done. If you’re trying to fit more reading into your day, consider carving out 30 minutes to an hour in the mornings. This reading could be for pleasure or just to catch up on overnight news stories. But if you struggle to find time to read, mornings can be great because they’re free of distractions.

Breakfast

Despite what you may have heard, breakfast isn’t necessarily the most important meal of the day. But if eating something before moving onto work-related tasks helps you be more productive, make time for it.

You can prioritize breakfast by planning ahead. Whether you prefer hot breakfast or grab-and-go, make sure you have what you need in the house before the week begins. I like to plan a special breakfast that I prepare on Sundays and then reheat as leftovers throughout the week. I also keep easy breakfasts on hand, like breakfast shakes, instant oatmeal, and energy bars, for the days I don’t feel like cooking.

Caffeine

This is another optional element to a morning routine. A warm cup of coffee or tea can be a comforting ritual in the morning, especially if you wake before the sun. But if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck on caffeine, you may want to adjust your strategy.

If your goal is to get an energy boost, the best time to have caffeine is actually three to five hours after waking up. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy coffee early in the morning, but it likely won’t impact your energy levels as much as it would with a buffer in between. I personally enjoy my coffee first thing in the morning because I like the taste and the warmth.

Quiet Time

For many people, mornings are so hectic that there’s hardly a moment for rest. Because they don’t prioritize their sleep schedule, they sleep as late as they can before rushing out of bed. If this sounds like you, try a different approach.

Try to get four to six sleep cycles in at night. Instead of waking up based on the time you go to bed, try to get to sleep early enough to support the morning wake-up you’re aiming for. There are some great alarm apps, like this bedtime calculator, that will do the math for you. If I want to wake up at 6 a.m., I aim to fall asleep around 10:30 p.m., because that’s what works best for my body. That gives me two to three hours each morning to enjoy some restful time.

When your alarm goes off, don’t snooze. Get up and start your morning routine. This can even include spending quiet time looking out the window, listening to music, playing with a pet, journaling, or even meditating. Adding quiet time into your morning routine will help you feel calm and start your day right.

How do you start your day? What elements are the most important to your morning routine?

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