You wake up in the morning to a sharp piercing alarm clock ringing obnoxiously at you, after a difficult night with little sleep, groggy and unmotivated. You pull your achy legs out from under the covers and grudgingly place your bare feet on the cold floor, you quickly shuffle to the closet to get a sweater for the cold, wading through all of the unwashed laundry on the floor, knocking your pinky toe on the side of the bed as you go.
Cursing, you head to the kitchen where last nights dishes (and much more) are still strewn about the counter top, leaving no room for you to make your coffee. Threw bleary eyes you crash around stacking dirty dishes to clear some space, meanwhile the dogs (or kids😉) are milling around demanding breakfast…
I think you get the picture by now, this is a crap morning when you look at it all written out like this, but if you are anything like me, this is more or less how you started everyday. If this kind of morning is any indication, your day is not going to be all that great.
I decided this year, no more! I am going to have a relaxing, productive and energizing start to my day if it kills me! But you know what it did not! As with all the changes I have been making in this past year, I am not falling into the same patterns that I used to, I am not waking up one day and deciding to make a complete overhaul of my entire being, I am making small actionable steps to making my mornings, evenings and everything in-between nothing I look forward to regardless of what I have to do that day.
A good morning routine, starts with a good evening routine, and vice versa, they are synergistic, what you eat and how you act in the morning effects your evening and your night sleep and subsequently the next morning as well. And of course if your morning and evening sucked, it’s unlikely the middle part of your day will be much fun either.
How to integrate new habits that stick
What’s your tendency? First you need to know what kind of person you are, and any number of personality test could help you do that, you might think you know but having a framework to refer to could help a lot in figuring out how to get your self to do stuff.
I like a few of them, but my favorite for habit forming is Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies, get the book or take the free test, you will be glad you did! She also has other book about habit forming specifically!
So in my case I am a Rebel (no surprises there), this means I resist both inner and outer expectations, meaning if I tell myself « I have to wake up at 5am and start my diffuser right away » even know it’s a super tiny thing that would take like 60 seconds, I will resist it with every fibre of my being. Why? Simply because of how I phrased the statement. Saying « …have too… » to a Rebel is a guaranteed was to make them do the opposite of whatever you are suggesting. Even if that Rebel is yourself!
Play to your strengths. So to set myself up for success I just make small changes to ease myself into a new habit in a way that seems fun and free of obligation. To use the diffuser as an example again, I put the diffuser on my bedside table, put the box of essential oil blends beside it and some water in a bottle. When I wake up I see those three items and think « Hey, some ArtNaturals Signature Relief oil blend would be nice this morning! » And a habit is born!
That same technique will work for basically any habit I want to make or break for that matter! If you have a different tendency your technique will need to be different. If you are a Questioner you will have to do research and prove to yourself why you should be doing something, if it makes logical sense you will likely stick to it. If you are an Upholder and you find a rule about it somewhere, even if you wrote it down yourself, you will stick to any habit you set your mind to! And if you are an Obliger, you will need an accountability buddy to make you feel obliged to continue with your habit.
Take Baby Steps
Look at the habit you want to form and break it down until the steps seem immensely easy to you, it could be anything. Think about me just putting the diffuser items on my side table, that took one action and it set me up for the entire habit.
Prep ahead. Other baby steps might be a little more complex, for example I want to be able to write my blog posts and podcast episodes in the morning before work, but I also need time to do the farm chores before my day job starts, so I started integrating prepping the coffee, my clothes and the dogs food the night before, leaving me with around an extra 30 minutes in the morning.
So this morning I was able to start writing at 5:30am! Only 30 minutes after I woke up, and I did not have to force myself at all, I felt motivated and energized, and I was looking forward to writing!
My Evening Routine
I have had my evening routine pretty down pat for awhile now, and have finally started integrating the last piece of the puzzle – stopping back lit devices an hour before bed.
There are a couple of nights a week that I work until 8pm, so this routine is held back a little, but I still do it regardless, just in a smaller time frame.
- At Sunset
- Put on blue light blocking glasses
- Shift lights to warmer shade bulbs (we have overhead lighting with « daylight bulbs » and lamps with a warmer shade to them to simulate sunset
- Brush teeth, wash face, put on PJ’s/lounge wear.
- Have calming tea with Natural Calm Magnesium supplement
- Prep coffee, dog food and clothing for next day
- Start diffuser with some kind of relaxing/calming blend
- Stop watching TV/Get off phone and read
- Put robe and slippers beside the bed)
This might look a lot different for you, maybe you shower instead of washing your face, maybe the dog food prep is lunches for yourself or your kids. Whatever it is, is not really important, the important part is finding a routine that helps you prepare for the day ahead AND wind down so that you can sleep well!
Pro Tip! If you are someone who has trouble quieting their mind at night, thinking about all the things you have to get done then doing a « brain dumb » could be a great thing to integrate into your schedule! A brain dumb is simply putting pen to paper and listing all the things you are thinking about, and possibly a few steps or a to do list for the next day. This will help you feel like you can relax because you wont forget all the things you are thinking about.
My Morning Routine
I am, and always have been a morning person, I generally have most of my energy in the morning, but that energy can be zapped pretty quick if I wake up to a disaster zone in my house. One of the main shifts I am making this year is keeping up with the chores, and having my husband do the same. Hubby does the dishes at night, and I do them in the morning (whatever is left, and what’s created during the day.)
My morning looks pretty much the same all through the week, with the exception of Sunday, when I sleep in a bit, and doing all of this later in the morning.
- Alarm rings (I use the Bedtime app for iPhone to have a soothing alarms that increases slowly)
- Get up, put on robe and slippers (that are beside bed)
- Take temperature (Fertility Awareness Method form contraception)
- Add water and oils to diffuser
- Make bed (don’t underestimate this one!)
- Make coffee (and takeaway tea for hubby)
- Feed dogs
- Start small load of laundry (see Simplified’s Simplicity Challenge)
- Start working on online business (blogging, podcast, email list etc)
- Feed chickens
- Feed horses
- Muck out barn
- Muck out coop
- Run puppy (frisbee)
- Brush horses if needed
- Ride if seasonally applicable
- Day job starts
- Address outstanding items that require immediate attention
- Start load of dishes
- Make breakfast
- Day job continues…
Note: Because I work from home I can have my shower, eat breakfast etc after my work day starts but because of the nature of my job I cannot leave for long periods of time so all of the outdoor stuff has to be done before 8am. So at this point I start my day of work, make sure anything that needs to be addressed is, then eat and have my shower.
On Saturdays I work as a riding instructor and am out of the house from 7am – 3:30pm, in this case I prep my meals ahead the night before and have my shower before leaving. The farm chores are done by my parents or husband that day.
And there you have it! Simple, productive and renewing. Both in the morning and at night I get things done that I don’t really want to do, I get things done that I love and I do a few things that recharge my batteries and make me feel ready for whatever is coming the next day!
Let me know what you routine is right now, and the habits you are working to integrate!
*Please note none of the links in this post are affiliate links, they are solely for your reference and information.