Do you have a morning routine? If not, you should.
Whether you wake up before sunrise or after sunrise, the mornings are a special time to connect with God and give a kickstart to the day. (Note: There are mothers with little children who may be reading this and think that a morning routine is impossible. It's not. Keep it simple. You may need to include your children in your routine, like my wife does, and that's a good thing. You're setting an example for them to follow!)
Here's just a quick list of benefits:
I don't know anyone 'successful' who does not have a morning routine. It is a vital self-discipline. By successful, I'm not referring to wealthy or popular. I'm referring to someone who gives their all, is fully alive, responsible in everything entrusted to them, and leans on God's grace and strength for all they do.
When it comes to a morning routine, one of the best examples of discipline and consistency I've seen growing up is in my mother. She has had an impact on the way I embrace the mornings. She was a master of setting a rhythm to her day, was awake before anyone and managed to help others (my siblings and I) with their morning routine (and we sure needed the help sometimes!).
A morning routine disciplines your heart, mind and body for the rest of the day.
I've had a consistent morning routine for several years now and it works.
If you're looking to start or modify your own routine, here are my suggestions, keep it SIMPLE, SHORT and SUSTAINABLE. Read to the end for a few more tips (save the image above as a reference to help you get started.)
Activities that make up my routine:
Thinking has to do with girding the loins of my mind and getting my thoughts focused on eternal things. Knowing that I'm not here forever gives me proper perspective and helps avoid unnecessary stress. When I wake up, anywhere from 6-6:40AM (sometimes I wake up before my alarm), the first thing I say in my mind is 'Thank you God' (something I'm working on teaching my boys as well). Then, I thank Him that He gave me life and pray that He will give me strength to walk in His ways and purpose. (Note: If you're alive, He has a purpose for you!)
We were made to move. Naturally, our muscles enter the atrophy stage as we age, so it is important to exercise and eat healthy. Of course, this is difficult/impossible for anyone facing chronic illness, genetic sickness or disease. I first drink some water and then go into the office where I do some light exercises - stretches, sit-ups or planks, pushups, and running place. If I rested well the night before, I'll do some simple reps with weights. The idea is to get the blood flowing and muscles working. I do simple exercises throughout the day as well, even while I'm on calls at work or waiting for something to upload/download. Running in place, squats, stretches, etc. This is important, especially if you sit a lot like I do.
After moving the body, I need to stir the soul. I use a small devotional Bible (God's Word of Life) that has passages organized by subject. I read a few verses, pray and meditate on God's word. More recently, I've also been using this time to study through my weekly word (if you have Instagram, you can learn more at @altarpreneur). This includes keyword searches using online resources, reviewing blogs, and downloading short studies for referencing at a later time. Sometimes I include time for writing on my blog. Even if I don't publish anything, I come back to a post I've already started. This method helps keep my ideas fresh.
I end my morning routine by taking a quick look at my Outlook schedule (for work) and personal planner. I jot down any projects or errands that I did not make a note of the day before and get a quick overview of what I need to do and/or who I need to connect with in the areas of family, work and ministry. Having things written down increases the chances that you will get them done. (If you need help getting started, I put together a simple 2-page planner. You can write your 'big' goals on the first page and break them down to time-sensitive steps on the second page.) By 7:15AM, I'm done and ready for my first team meeting at work.
How to start a morning routine if you don't have one:
If you'd like to start a morning routine my first suggestion is to know your sleep pattern. Are you able to go to sleep early? (Early is relative but we can safely agree that anything after 9:30/10pm is not early.) If you don't go to sleep early, it's unhealthy, in the long run, to wake up early. Your morning routine will not be sustainable. Note: If you work a mid-shift or night-shift, you'll have to adjust accordingly. Your 'morning' will not be the typical 6AM-9AM scenario but you should still have some type of routine after waking up. For the rest of you, if you want to establish a morning routine, for the benefit of yourself and others, you may need to first change your sleeping habits. And, if you're married, you will want to include the rest of your family in that. Don't fall victim to the 'I'm-not-a-morning-person' mentality. You can become a morning person, if you want to. If you don't, you won't.
Dr. Moira Junge is a psychologist from the Sleep Health Foundation. She thinks the idea of scheduling “me time” in the morning is great, as you don’t then run the risk of forsaking it when your to-do list overflows. “It makes sense to protect [that time] early in the day in a proactive way.”
However, this is only true for people who are still getting enough sleep, Junge warns. So if you’re an extreme night owl, getting up early means you’ll burn the candle at both ends and end up exhausted.
Next, establish key activities that will make up your routine. As you've read, mine include light exercise, reading and planning. Decide what is important. Understand what gets you moving. Think about what will have a compounding impact on the rest of the day. Keep it simple (no more than 3-5 activities).
Remember, a morning routine is a kickstart. It does not need to be long.
Thirty minutes is all I need. I could probably work in more time but then it would require me going to sleep even earlier! You see how important that is? Your sleep pattern will determine your routine.
Finally, start! If you're reading this and the morning has already passed, plan to start tomorrow, with God's help. Jot down a short list of activities you'd like to do and then plan the rest of your day in such a way that you can get to sleep early. Success!
Keep the Fire Burning,
with Danny & Daniela Kovacs
No family is an island. Join us as we share candid discussions, Biblical advice & resources to help keep God at the center of your faith, family and career.