I didn’t always have a morning routine. It developed gradually; a stubborn evolution to make up for my not being a morning person.
For me, a morning routine is everything that I do, before checking in with the digital world. I’m not alone, many successful people report the importance of having a set of activities that help to center them in the morning before checking in online.
The tricky part is, Morning Sara is probably the least motivated or agreeable of all the Saras. In order to make sure my morning goest well, I need to make it easy and enjoyable to make the right choices.
I’ve pared down this list to the bare morning essentials that not only work for me, but come up repeatedly in the morning routines of successful people.
As with any new change or habit, go slow. Start with easier or more appealing tasks and stick with that before adding more in. Dialing in what works for you will take some experimentation. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
7 things to do before checking your phone in the morning:
Pre work: Get a good night’s sleep. If you aren’t giving your body the rest that it needs, you are starting off from a place of deprivation. Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep. It’s not always going to be possible, but do everything you can to prioritize your sleep.
1. No scrolling in bed. This is a tough one because most of us use our phones as an alarm clock and as a waking up activity. Scrolling through our phone seems like a good compromise between going back to sleep and springing out of bed. Most mornings if I’m not engaged in an activity right away, I will drift back to sleep. If you struggle with this, I’ve found an alternative that works really well – see step 3.
2. Use essential oils. I like to keep two oils on my nightstand. Lavender for sleep and tangerine for waking up. When my alarm sounds, I turn it off, set my phone back down and immediately pick up my tangerine oil. While I’m still waking up, I dab oil on the inside of each wrist and bring them up to my face to inhale. Using essential oils is a way to use your senses to wake you up and bring you into your body. Side note: this helps with morning anxiety as well. The trick is to choose an uplifting oil that you enjoy. Tangerine, Bergamot, Grapefruit, and Orange are all great options.
3. Make your bed. Jocko Willink has described each day as a slippery slope of self control. What you do in the morning sets the tone for your day. Take a moment to make your bed and you will already have a win under your belt.
4. Warm lemon water. Before you have your coffee/tea/breakfast have a glass of water. Warm water with lemon is hydrating, doesn’t shock your stomach, gets your digestion going, and can do wonders for your complexion.
5. Move your body. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout. Even just a short walk, slow stretching, or a 5 minute yoga session releases seratonin, making you feel good first thing. Bonus, if you can get some sunshine in the process.
6. Do your most creative or most dreaded task. Take advantage of the clear mental space before your brain is bombarded with images, tasks, requests. Use this fresh energy to work on something important. It’s a particularly good time to work on something creative or take care of one of the tasks you might be dreading. Everything else will feel easier when you’ve tackled your biggest thing first.
7. Review your to-do list for the day.
Now you can check your email (Instagram, Twitter, Slack, etc.).
It’s worth naming the elephant in the room here: Many of you reading this will think that there is no way that you, in your position, could get away with ignoring your email in the morning.
What if you missed something?
What if someone at work needs you?
It can feel scary to start your day without checking your phone.
Be responsible and make sure that you are giving yourself enough time to stay offline for the first hour or so. Once you do that, release the guilt of not being available. Release the fear of missing out.
What you’ll find is that seldom anything suffers because you are absent for that hour. Instead, you are giving yourself mental space and a sense of togetherness that will carry into your day.
Small shifts like this can be potent in their ability to make you both happier and more effective in your work.
Try it and let me know how it goes in the comments below!