Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rethinking the Morning Routine

Banana cereal yogurt

The first time I remember setting a strict morning routine (i.e., not rolling out of bed at the last possible moment and dashing for the shower) is around the time I moved to my present home city.  I wanted to make time with God a higher priority, so I began to start my day with some Bible reading, a devotional, and prayer.

And then things, as they always do, changed, and so did my priorities.  Here are some of my morning routines from the past five years:
  • intense cardio exercise, then God time/breakfast
  • yoga, then God time/breakfast
  • God time, then intense cardio exercise
  • God time, then exercise, then blogging
  • God time, then hooping
  • God time, then writing
  • morning pages, then God time, then writing
  • morning pages, then writing, then God time
Now I'm in something of a conundrum.  I have no idea how to structure the latest incarnation of my morning routine.  But before I ask for suggestions, I want to share why I have a morning routine at all.  I mean, I work from home now, so it's not like I need to squeeze things in during the wee hours before heading off to the job.  I can do whatever I want . . . right?

Not quite.  For me, a morning routine helps set my tone for the day, self-employed or not.  I try to get some spiritual time in each morning because it helps make me aware of God for the day ahead.  It encourages me, and reminds me to ask for help when I need it.

A morning routine also kick-starts my energy.  It starts a ball of kinetic action rolling, which picks up momentum and carries me through the morning and afternoon.  This is especially true for exercising in the morning darkness.  As contradictory as it may seem, morning exercise (when I was healthy) was incredibly energizing.  It's also nice to get the sweaty work out of the way early, especially if you don't like to exercise -- as one fellow YMCA goer once told me, he likes to exercise super early because he's not really awake enough to know what's happening until it's done. 

Sun UpBut right now, I have a whole slew of things I'd like to relegate to my morning hours, because they will all benefit me and my day, albeit in different ways.  Here are a few of the things I want to put first in order to set the done for the rest of the day:
  • God time
  • morning pages
  • more professional writing
  • yoga
  • hooping
  • morning walk
  • blogging
  • intense, sweaty exercise
  • meditation
These are all good things.  Really good things, in fact.  I get so much out of each one, and they're all so different (in my mind) that I can't just kick a few out the door.  But I also can't do all of them first (or second) thing in the morning.

Now, I could just do all these things, getting them done one right after the other straight through the morning and afternoon.  But I suspect that that would take the power out of the one or two prioritized morning items.  I don't want to make my life a rote to-do list. 

So here's what I want to know -- what does your morning routine look like?  What things to you prioritize?  Or do you have a morning routine at all?

And if you're totally lost as to this whole morning routine thing, here are some interesting articles on morning routines that are bouncing around the blogosphere:


  1. For most of the time (non-Holiday Season) my morning routine is as follows (usually 3ish hours):coffee/meditation (30 mins)cardio (from a brisk walk to full on high-intensity interval training; I tend to focus my meditations here)(30 mins)clean up (30 mins)breakfast (though I tend to scribble out plans, etc) (15-30 mins depending on what I prep)writing (1 hour)there's always transition time between activities and especially between writing and getting ready for the pay the bills job. I haven't regained my morning appetite yet, but am slowly doing it now that I'm getting off the go go go high of holiday season when I'm out of the house from like 7am to 12-1a. PS: I have long mornings like this because I usually close my store (1p-10p). I also do my strength training/gym time at night after work, which takes me about 45 minutes.The above routine is what I'm transitioning back to, and what I normally do on any given day. Nov/Dec are just unusual, very punctuated times of my life, and so don't include my lack of routine then. I am proud to say that I wrote a lot despite the busyness of this past holiday season; I'm just sad that I didn't once go to the gym in the whole month of December (versus last Dec ('09) I went at least 3X/week, but I also didn't have a writing goal too.)I hope that helps you somewhat!

  2. I vary my morning routines throughout the week. So on Sunday, my morning time includes writing and rebounder. On other days, it includes setting up food for the family dinner I'm making. Etc. It all varies, but it's all on schedule and so my week has a rhythm just like my morning does.I always start with a prayer in bed, but devotion itself waits until later (usually by an hour or two) with the family.

  3. Oh, man…it's been a long time since I've had a REAL morning routine. Thanks to several years where I worked early shifts at Chick-fil-A (I'd leave at about 5:45 or 6am to get there), Bank of America (leave at 6:30 to get there), and Starbucks (leaving anywhere from 4:15 to 5:15 to get there…OY), my morning routine morphed from structured to whatever gets me fed and out the door on time.I haven't worked at Starbucks (or anywhere but home) in over a year, though. My routines change based on what I'm working on at the moment, usually. When I first started my novel, I'd get up, get dressed as if I was going to work, go get something from Starbucks, come home (or stay there) and write. I did that first for a LONG time because I was afraid of getting sidetracked. Now…I don't really have a solid routine. Wake up, eat breakfast, try to be productive in the morning, run errands in the afternoon or keep working on stuff if I need/want to, hang out with Andrew in the evenings. And even THAT is all out the window now that I'm pregnant! Ah. Sorry for such a novel-length comment, lol. You've got me thinking here! :)—Kayla

  4. oops, I forgot to elaborate earlier that I think of those activities as blocks of time not necessarily as a scheduled order of the day. I usually DO do them in that order, BUT if I have a compelling need to do my morning writing during my coffee time and THEN do morning cardio, then I do that. I just know that I HAVE to do those things in the morning/before work so that I can feel more productive, and so I can feel that I'm balancing out those things that are my life's priorities (writing, health) with those things I have to do at the moment (paythebills job(s)). I don't want to go to bed day after day knowing that all I've contributed to my life's goals were not to go into bankruptcy, you know what I mean?Eye on the prize until my paythebills life and passions are aligned, right? ;)

  5. I don't really have a routine right now but I will starting tomorrow. That is when I head back to school. I'm not really even sure of what it'll look like. I pretty much wake up, get dressed, and skip breakfast. (not the healthiest thing to do)Maybe with your routine, you could mix it up a little. Maybe do two or three of those things a day. You could read the morning papers and have God time on Monday. Hooping, God time, and yoga on Tuesday....Stuff like that. =)(I personally think hooping is sweet! I had never heard of it as a sport before. I was like WHOA! CHECK THAT OUT! when I watched the video. I always loved the hula hoop. So now I'm intrigued. Thanks!)Also, thanks for the pic comment. Made me smile. =)

  6. Stephanie (dancingwaJanuary 18, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    Beth, I've been thinking about this one all day. I think one question I'd have is - why is THIS activity a morning one instead of another time during the day? Like, the reason you gave for God time is something that makes sense. For me, I have to know why I'm doing something. For example, I've been trying to get up earlier to set a morning routine, but I haven't always been successful. Part of it is not knowing why I want to do that thing in the AM. For me, meditating is hardest in the AM (I tend to fall asleep more), but sometimes, it's easier because I don't have to worry about neighbors yelling, Sarah being awake, etc. I try to do my 750 words in the AM, because it means I won't forget about it, and I won't be scrambling to it. I try to do a lot in the AM, in part, because I want to have time after work to workout, read, etc. (Sarah and I usually do gym together and it doesn't usually open early enough for us to go before leaving for work.)I tend to hate mornings, but I've come to realize if I have one or two things I can do - for me - in the morning, I'm a lot less grumpy throughout the day and more willing to take time out with Sarah and be present for/with her in the evening. Still pondering nthanks for the good read, good questions, and good links!Steph

  7. Thank you for the inspiration. I had a morning routine going for a little bit, but then I fell right back into the whole, "keep resetting the alarm until the last possible minute - ahh! I'm late! Gotta go!" type thing. I think the key is to get a night time routine so I get to bed earlier instead of wandering around doing this and that until I feel tired enough. Time to restructure a bit more of my life, I think. Intentional time with God is being stuck in wherever, and it'd be nice to have something more solid than that.

  8. Beth,Great post/question. I would say that my routine has been laid out very similar to yours, which makes sense because I’m also self-employed! I know I need to discipline myself to keep my days moving productively and the morning is the place to start!A few months ago, I started making meditation a priority. 10 or 20 minutes before email before Facebook before breakfast. That is my “God time.” I sit and attempt to be available for God’s plan for my day. Since I started practicing meditation, there has been a shift in my attitude (probably not the best word but it works) about living each day and not fretting about the future. I’ve found a deeper level of faith/trust that God will work out my days if I just give them to Him. Short amount of time that I’ve practiced presence in this way but I’ve felt the shift. So my suggestion to you is to try putting meditation in your morning and consider it God time! Morning walk sounds nice, but for me, not until its WAAAAY warmer out. ;)Thanks for the post. As you know I just moved into a new home, so sticking with my routine is important to keep me grounded. BUT…with meditation practice I know that I can change and give my “routine” to God…He is free to switch me up! Hehe!

  9. Wow, so happy to read this post! Good to know someone else has the same problem/question as I do!

    Like you, I'm wanting to get 3 critical areas covered in my morning routine: writing, meditation, and health.

    Morning Pages should be first thing in the morning. But (via the Slow Carb Diet), I need to eat 30 grams of protein and 16 oz of ice cold water within 30 minutes of waking up. BUT, they say that working out (especially cardio) is best first thin in the morning BEFORE eating breakfast. And then there's mediation. When does that come in? Not to mention reading time.

    So, PLEASE let me know what you settle on. I would love to hear what has worked for you!


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King