Recently, I had been growing increasingly frustrated at being rushed in the mornings. This was due to lack of a solid morning routine. Too often, my day was getting away from me before it even began.
Due to symptoms of my type of dwarfism, I often wake up with moderate to sometimes severe arthritis. Sure, that is a legitimate reason to waking up slowly, but when it comes to osteoarthritis pain, motion is lotion. The quicker I can get my joints moving, the quicker I can diminish the pain.
Attempting to avoid the pain rather than getting moving quickly left me frustrated which, I believe, only exasperated my discomfort and frustration. So, this summer, I aimed to improve a few small habits that I believed might help me transform my mornings. I wanted to reference a few of these to help you think through what small habits you can change to get a bigger change you want.
Morning routine habit 1: Setting myself up for success
There’s no way I could expect to wake up promptly with energy if I did not prioritize the importance of sleep. I’ve found that my best chances of feeling refreshed and have the morning I want is to allow my body to get adequate sleep. So far, I am finding that a minimum of 6 to 7 hours of sleep is a must.
However, getting good sleep is not just about getting a solid amount of sleep, but also quality rest. We as a culture have become too accustom to spending as much of our final awake minutes as we can scrolling social media and commenting on the latest memes. If I go to bed with a screen in my face until minutes before trying to go to sleep, I will not rest nearly as well as if I had put my phone away at least 20-30 minutes before I go to bed.
If you find yourself seemingly getting hours of sleep but stiff feel tired and mentally drained, start thinking back to how much scrolling you did on that social media feed.
Morning routine habit 2: Waking up promptly
This was the hardest step for me. For far too long, my attempts at working up early were thwarted by not being disciplined enough to jump right up and out of bed as soon as the alarm rings. If I miss this crucial step, I’m immediately tempted to roll over and give it “5 more minutes”. Before I know it, that 5 more minutes has become 30. Of all the small changes I’ve made to my morning routine, this has by far been the most impactful.
It’s also the trickiest to explain how I did it. My biggest suggestion on getting better at this is to prep your clothes for the morning and put whatever you need to get going quickly within arms reach. If incentives help you, set up your coffee up to run on a timer or have your maker or espresso machine ready to go. You want to make the process of getting your day started as quick as possible.
Morning routine habit 3: Keeping the phone put away
This is similar to a point I made in the first step. If a screen is not the idea last thing you consume before falling asleep, then it likely isn’t much better when waking up. As I’ve been getting up earlier, I’ve found that putting off the first meaningful interaction with my phone until I’ve made my coffee, sat down, and had at least 10-20 minutes of no-screen time.
Even after that time has passed, I try doing something other than social media or work as the first thing you do on your phone in the morning. Find a good ebook, audiobook, or a good podcast to listen to. Because my faith is important, this first interaction is either a Bible verse, or guided devotional experience that includes quiet time, personal reflection and taking into consideration what God is trying to tell me that day through a verse.
How it’s going
I am currently working on this blog on an early Thursday morning, on my back patio. Over the last two weeks, I’ve been getting up between 4:30-5, and as I am writing this, it is 6am and I’ve already had my quiet time, God time and made some meaningful progress on some writing I had been wanting to do for a long while.
If there’s something you want to improve or accomplish in your life, I would encourage you to take a step back and look for small things you can quickly change, experiment with, and see if it makes an impact. In my experience, there is no question that small incremental changes are going a long way.