You know those morning people? The ones who get up early and seemed to have completed a marathon before you’ve gotten up? Do you hate them? Envy them? Wonder what it is that they have that you don’t? The answer?
A Morning Routine
Okay. The answer is not sexy or mysterious. In fact what distinguishes them is really kind of boring. But it’s true. And if you develop that routine, you too can get more done, feel a sense of accomplishment, and head out into the day in greater control of your time. That goes for you night owls too.
You may decide it benefits you to start your day earlier, but you don’t want to sacrifice the time (the evening) when you feel most productive. Even if you start your day at 10 am, a morning routine can boost your focus and productivity.
Know that a morning routine starts in the evening
Set yourself set up for a successful start of the day by first reviewing ahead what will happen the next day — not just in the morning, but the whole day. What appointments do you have? Who do you need to contact? What phone calls will you be making? Are there longer term projects you need to allocate time to? What about deadlines?
Sometimes we wake up in the morning with that sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach that something we planned to work on over the weekend slipped out of our minds — swept away by soccer practice or that Saturday evening concert — and now staring us in the face is a report, a presentation, or a proposal deadline that’s due TOMORROW!
We hope with enough advance planning and your trusty planner in hand that won’t happen, but you sure want to know of any looming the night before rather than the morning of!
Once you reviewed what will happen tomorrow–have this in a handwritten list or on your computer–decide what it is you need to set up to make that happen. Go through the day in your mind and on paper. Put what you need to do in the right order so that you have created an action plan. When you look at it you have no doubt what you’re doing throughout the day.
Take away decisions
The action plan will include everything that you are doing so that once you roll out of bed, there are no decisions to be made. You simply execute the plan!
It is those little decisions–am I eating eggs or oatmeal, going to the office supply store today or tomorrow, beginning my work at home or at the office–that can zap our time and energy. Be decisive. Make those decisions the night before.
These decisions include knowing what clothes you will be wearing the next day. Figure that out and set out your clothes for the morning. Ask yourself what papers or files you’ll need.
Put them out on your desk (if you’re working from home) or in your briefcase (if you’re leaving for work or an appointment). This takes away the little morning drama of running around the house looking for the papers you need for that 8:30 am meeting with your accountant.
Make sure you have a reliable place to put your stuff and your purse or wallet. You want to be able to grab them and go. Again, decrease the drama and rushing around in the morning.
You’ll also want to create a master list. After a week or two you’ll see what is typically on the list you create in the evening. Use your knowledge and experience to create a master list that reflects a typical day. Then you can simply tweak it depending on the demands of the next day.
Notice that I recommend developing a morning routine. You are the creator and owner of that routine–not Judy or Joe or Cindy. What may work for them may not be the best routine for you. Your action plan needs to work for you. That marathoner I talked about?
Well, that perky person may find exercise is critical to their morning routine, whereas for you exercising early is exhausting, leaving you dragging throughout the rest of the day. If that’s the case, then don’t make exercising part of your morning routine. There’s no virtue in that.
Remember, you are your best guide to what your morning routine looks like. I’m giving you the basics, a few ideas. It is yours to run with.
Finally remember that any change, especially of habits (or lack of them) that have become hard wired is a work in progress. Think of getting better at this morning routine rather than perfecting it. Forget perfect, and you’ll actually get more done and feel better about yourself.