A good morning routine can set you up for a successful day. We’re all fascinated to know what those fabulous, fit, and financially free people are doing differently from the rest of us so we might be able to model our morning routines after theirs to have a shot at just a fraction of their productivity or success.
I’ve read lists of ‘essential’ morning activities I swear would take me until 11am to complete. Even when I ignore those lists in favour of including just a couple of things to pep up my productivity I can’t help feeling like a failure if I fall off the wagon and wind up back in my old pattern of stumbling to the coffee machine and checking the notifications on my phone.
For me, the single most important thing to do every morning is to set a positive intention for the day. That’s it. But what does “intention setting” even mean? It’s deciding how you want to show up that day and what’s going to be most important for you to feel like it’s been a good day for you.
It might be deciding what values you want to express through your actions or what kind of impact you want to have on the people around you. If you know you have deadlines to meet, it might be an intention to stay off social media until you complete the three most important tasks for the day. Perhaps your intention will be to practise assertiveness in a difficult meeting or to be a strong advocate for your child during the parent teacher interview. You might have an intention simply to be more present.
As soon as you start scrolling through Facebook or checking your emails, your brain starts whirring away with how you’re going to respond to external demands and your thoughts become consumed with the general busy-ness of the day ahead. Once you’re in that headspace, the opportunity for quiet reflection and intention setting is usually gone.
So, if you do nothing else each morning, I suggest taking just a few minutes before your mind is hijacked by the constant demands of emails, messages and social media to think about the day ahead and decide what will be the best way to approach it. Here are just a few ideas for how you might set your intentions each morning:
You don’t have to devote 30 minutes to formal meditation; you may just close your eyes, centre yourself for a few minutes and then take a moment to consider what’s most important to you on this day. Mindfulness is simply having an intention and then paying attention to whether you’re staying on track, so using meditation time to set the tone of your day is perfect.
If you’re a visualisation kind of person you might like to see yourself sailing through a presentation or being confident in a meeting. You might simply visualise yourself at the end of the day feeling a sense of accomplishment at what you’ve managed to achieve.
Some people love to journal at the beginning or end of the day. The daily practice of “morning pages”, popularised by author Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way e to write for 3 A4 pages. You can simply take 15 minutes or so to write down what’s on your mind and express your intentions for the day, but there’s no rule that says you have to write 3 A4 pages. You can simply take 15 minutes or so to write down what’s on your mind and express your intentions for the day.
When you wake up in the morning, take a moment to register you’re awake before rushing to jump out of bed and into activity. Take some breaths and bring your mind to what lies ahead for the rest of day, including any anxiety or concern you may have and how you’ll approach the tasks of the day.
If you can’t start the day without a coffee (or tea), sit quietly while you drink it and savour the quiet time before the busyness of the day begins. Use the time to mentally plan for the day ahead rather than rushing headlong into your to-do list.