I’ve never been a morning person. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a late sleeper from wayyy back. Ask my little sister how hard it was to drag me out of bed on Christmas morning every year. Yes, even my love for Santa took a backseat to my need for ZZZs.
As I got older, it became more of a problem. My night owl tendencies used to make me perpetually late to work. So when I decided to start a new career, I knew that working from home would give me the perfect excuse to sleep late every day. I didn’t want that. I knew something had to give, and that something had to be me. I needed to develop a morning routine, stat.
If you’re a morning person, bless your heart, but this post is not for you. To all my fellow night owls, I’m going to share my tricks for transforming your morning from a daily trip to Struggle Town into an opportunity to set yourself up for success that lasts the entire day.
How to crush your morning routine
Like all good little Virgos, I crave control in my life. There’s nothing worse than the sinking-stomach feeling of sleeping through the alarm, jolting upright like an old-time movie monster rising from the grave, and realizing your whole morning, and thereby the rest of your day, is totally derailed.
Which brings me to the first step in managing your morning: get enough sleep the night before! For all my careful planning and envisioning how the day would go, countless mornings have gone by the wayside because I simply overslept.
Eventually, though, I recognized I was wasting time sleeping when I could’ve been accomplishing instead. I got real with myself about how much sleep I needed, started getting to bed earlier, and got better sleep.
After that, things started falling into place. Instead of trying to cram all my daily tasks into a handful of hours, I now had time to knock the big things out earlier in the day. Knowing I’d already tackled those, I was free later in the day to work on other projects or unwind.
Plus, I had more energy and focus because I was a) rested and b) healthier.
Move your body
There is nothing better than a brisk (or leisurely, do your thing) walk first thing in the morning. Before I started getting up earlier, I was so busy in the evenings that I often skipped walking my dog, Ambrose, in favor of something else. This was, of course, unfair to my sweet pup and also a huge source of guilt for me. When I started walking Ambrose in the a.m., life got easier.
A morning walk would be a great time to mentally plan your day if that’s helpful to you. But if you’re a non-morning person like me, you may want to spend this time allowing your mind to quietly and gently wake up on its own. I don’t attempt to plan or accomplish anything on my walks. I observe my surroundings, admiring the trees, the sky, and the fresh air. It may sound new age-y, but I find my brain needs this time to transition between sleep and awake. That way, it’s able to perform well later.
Workouts have always been hit-or-miss for me, but my morning walk at least ensures I’m getting in some activity every day. If you’re a hardcore gym rat, just do some light stretching or jumping jacks. The point is to wake your body up and get you moving when you start your day. Of course, no matter how physically fit you are, you can’t be at your best if your diet is out of whack.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t even think about food first thing in the morning. Back when I had a real job that required me to leave the house way before I was ready to eat (not actually a morning person, remember?), I always packed my breakfast the night before and ate after I got to the office.
Now that I work from home, I still wait a while to eat after waking up. If you’re the type of person who wakes up hungry, though, you’ll want to eat a healthy breakfast as part of your morning routine.
Everyone is different, but breakfast for me is usually small and consists of a protein and fruit, along with LOTS of water. Only you know what your diet should look like, but I encourage you to listen to your body in the morning and play around with what, when, and how much you’re eating until you feel like you’ve got it right.
Get it done
What’s that one stupid chore you really hate doing? The thing you always end up pushing off. The thing you’re always telling yourself you absolutely must do tomorrow. That thing? Do that. Do it in the morning when you are rested and refreshed and haven’t yet encountered 900 distractions.
For me, it was washing the dishes. I don’t have a dishwasher, so I have to wash everything by hand. It’s not that I mind washing dishes, but I always felt there was something more pressing. So the dishes would sit and multiply as dishes do. Before I knew it, there was a mountain in the sink.
This was especially problematic because guests have to walk through my kitchen to get to the rest of the house. “Don’t look at the sink,” I would direct surprise visitors on our way to the living room. How embarrassing!
So the dishes were my One Stupid Chore.
Shortly after I started walking the dog every morning, I decided I was going to wash the dishes every morning too. Again, everything fell into place as a result of that one action. Walking into the house every day and seeing an empty sink was freeing, and I was no longer embarrassed when people popped by unannounced. The constant stress of failing to accomplish that One Stupid Chore was gone.
Enjoy your new morning routine
If you’re a perfectionist like me, you may walk around day after day thinking you need everything to be perfect in order to be happy. You don’t. What you really need is for one or two things to be well-managed in order to be happy. Only you know what those one or two things are.
I know what you’re thinking: Come on, Ki. If it was that simple, everyone would already have a kickass morning routine, and we wouldn’t need to read this post!
And I get it. I was a roll-out-of-bed every day, slap on some clothes, show up late for work looking like death kind of girl for years. Believe me, if I can turn my a.m. routine around and become an approximation of a morning person, then anyone can.
So, my fellow night owls, I beseech you: just try it. Get your ZZZs, get your body moving, eat something, and do that one thing that constantly nags at you. The peace of mind I’ve gained from just a few tiny tweaks to my morning routine is really, really worth it.
Tell me about your morning routine in the comments! Please share this post on Facebook or Pinterest if you enjoyed it, and don’t forget to sign up for e-mails for even more tips to crush your daily routine.