HOW TO MAKE TIME FOR YOUR MORNING ROUTINE, NO MATTER YOUR SCHEDULE
I often envy those with time for an extensive morning routine. I have never liked the taste of coffee, but there’s something about the idea of having time to brew a fresh pot in the morning that sounds incredibly relaxing and ritualistic. While I’m lucky to be enough of a morning person that my brain is fully functional mere moments after I roll out of bed, I love the idea of having time to linger, read, stretch…you get the idea.
This is what weekends are for, you’re probably thinking. And you’re right. But in the Instagram age of being surrounded by people whose days start at different times, whose work require different types of offices (or lack thereof), there are many a Tuesday morning when I get to enjoy evidence of others’ morning meditations and elaborate breakfasts.
Now I’m not trying to criticize those who have time for long morning routines every day of the week — exactly the opposite, I admire their willingness to carve out meaningful time for themselves every day. But, for those of us who don’t have as much time on our hands, I believe that it is still possible to create a similarly meaningful morning routine.
Since I started a full-time job in June, my mornings have looked fairly different than they did when I was in college. I’ve found that if I don’t put thought into the morning’s structure before I fall asleep the night before, it will be a chaotic mess of trying to fit way too many things into a short amount of time, and I’ll end up running out the door several minutes behind schedule, already stressed. In other words, not my favorite way to start the morning.
So as I started to settle into a bit of a rhythm — one that allows me to start my morning with a big glass of lemon water and still make it to work on time — I realized that there were several key strategies that were making my more peaceful mornings possible:
1. Use the night before to your advantage
Before I go to bed, my mason jar is filled with lemon water, and my breakfast and lunch are packed in Tupperware in the fridge. If I’m going to the gym, my bag is already packed with a change of clothes and my skin care products. I try to lay out my workout clothes too. The less time I spend making sure I have everything I need for the day, the more time I have to do the actual things I want to do in the morning.
2. Make yourself a checklist
There were a few too many days when I forgot my snack in the fridge or left my jewelry pouch sitting on my dresser when it really needed to be inside of my gym bag. When I was trying to make it out the door by a certain time, it was easy to lose track of the all of the things that needed to happen beforehand. So I started writing myself a to-do list in the form of a friendly note every night. Not only was it nice to wake up to a good morning message (even if it was one that I had written myself), but it helped me get into a rhythm while making sure nothing was forgotten. A particular example of this? I wanted to get in the habit of scraping my tongue in the morning, and when I had a written reminder to do so, it helped me build the habit.
3. Find things that pack well
If you don’t have time to eat breakfast at home, or you’re just not hungry before you have to leave for work, find not only an easy on-the-go recipe (overnight oats are my go-to), but the right kind of Tupperware too. There’s nothing worse than your breakfast leaking all over your bag. Same thing goes for beauty products. Some of my favorite skin care products don’t travel well — they leave oil all over whatever pouch I pack them in — so I have a few leak-proof post-workout skincare things and a waterproof pouch to take all of the risk out of it. I also spent a couple of months trying to cram too many things into my bag every morning before I realized that I just needed a bigger bag. (Insert another 5 minutes saved when I don’t have to unpack and re-pack my bag.)
4. Figure out your non-negotiables
I used to try to meditate, stretch, and write in my journal every morning before I left the house. But it always felt rushed, making it difficult to actually reap the benefits of each ritual. Journaling made the biggest impact on my day, so I decided to instead focus all my time there. It’s usually only 10 minutes, but I draw an affirmation card and fill one page with words and thoughts, and always feel more ready to take on the day afterwards. Whether this is making a matcha latte, having time to just lie in bed, or meditating for you, what matters more is that you have the necessary time to enjoy the ritual that means the most to you.
5. Leave room for flexibility
Morning routines are all well and good, but they don’t always take the fact that life happens into account. As in, sometimes getting dinner and drinks with friends after work means not getting home later than intended, and the 10 minutes normally devoted to my journal need to be 10 extra minutes of sleep instead. Or you thought you had packed enough jars of overnight oats to get you through Thursday, but it turns out you only packed enough to get you through Wednesday, so your run gets cut a bit short or you choose dry shampoo instead of fully washing your hair. I used to think that you had to do something every single day to the fullest for it to count. Turns out that’s not true (sorry perfectionism…!). What matters most to me is that I have time to enjoy some part of my morning and, preferably, not feel too rushed.
I’m a firm believer that a positive start sets you on the path to a good day. Do you have favorite morning rituals or routines, or things you prioritize when time gets tight? I’d love to hear about them!