The value in having a morning routine checklist
If I had a lifetime checklist, living intentionally would be at the top. Having checklists for things is a means of doing that.
I like to get up early because there’s not a lot of other people that do. It gives me an opportunity to get stuff done I otherwise might not be able to. While getting stuff done is valuable, my morning routine gives me a lot more than that.
It sets me up for continued success for the rest of my day, because I’ve successfully executed the tasks on my checklist.
It makes me more confident, knowing that I keep the commitments I make to myself.
It makes me happier and healthier because I’m addressing my physical, mental and spiritual well being.
So, while having a checklist for your morning routine is simply a sequential list of tasks to complete, it’s far more than that. It’s with that in mind that I strongly encourage you to think about, create and follow your own.
We’re talking about creating your morning routine. Take it seriously. Be proud of the fact you have one. Be proud of the fact you’re following it.
Here’s what I’ll cover
- Why checklists are valuable
- Why morning routines are valuable
- Elements of a morning routine
- How to structure your morning routine
- My morning routine
The value of checklists
There’s literally an endless amount of things you could put on a checklist. When you create a checklist, you’ve declared the tasks on the list to be of great importance.
Checklists provide a sequence for completing the tasks, creating structure and efficiency.
There are checklists for everything, some trivial and some with grave consequences if not correctly followed (think surgery or anything involving an aircraft).
Primacy of the tasks. You’ve decided these are the most important things to be done at this time. If they weren’t on the list, they may not get done once the day starts and things get busier.
The order in which you’ve organized the tasks is important. Take them one at a time and protect the order.
Honor the time and protect it. You’ve begun getting out of bed earlier than you did before. Don’t allow any interruptions. Not only will you focus on these items, you’ll ignore other competing activities such as emails or social media.
The value of morning routines
It’s a time of day when fewer people are awake and active. It’s an opportunity to enjoy uninterrupted time, to set the tone for the day and to set yourself up for success in the rest of your day.
Increase efficiency. Once you develop the habit of completing the tasks on your checklists, you’ll get better at doing them and you’ll complete them more efficiently.
Create confidence. Making a commitment and following through on it is a wonderful way to build your confidence. This is especially true for a morning routine because odds are, no one else will know if you’re actually doing the things on your checklist except you.
Promote overall health. We’ll talk about the elements that go into a morning routine in the next section, but it can incorporate activities and practices that promote overall healthy living.
Elements of a morning routine
There’s no right or wrong list of activities or practices that make up a morning routine. A big part of what yours will look like is how much time you have and what resources are available to you.
Physical. Moving your body, even if it’s walking around your block, is a great addition to a morning routine.
Mental. One of the main reasons I value the mornings so much is because it gives me the opportunity to think, reflect and ponder. I do that by journaling and writing.
Spiritual. You don’t need a spiritual practice of any kind, but they have helped me a lot. Doing a guided meditation is a great way to get started.
Catch up and prep. This can be a great time to get caught up on email or a project, and certainly getting ready for the activities of the coming day.
Fun. Not everything has to be about getting better all the time. You can most certainly make time in your routine for things you enjoy. Reading the paper, doing a crossword or listening to podcasts sound good to me.
How to put together yours
It doesn’t matter to me what time you get up, how long your routine lasts or what’s on your checklist. What does matter is that you find an uninterrupted window of time and fill it with the most important things for and to you.
When and how long. Figure out when you’re going to wake up and how long you’re going to have. Comparison isn’t healthy, don’t worry about when other people wake up or what they’re doing in their routines. That said, if getting up before everyone else appeals to you, do it.
What you’ll do. Odds are, you don’t have an unlimited amount of time, so choose wisely. Think about what you wish you had time to do and put that in your routine. Think about what you always intend to do, but never end up having enough time to do. Put those things in your routine.
Creating your order and checklist. Once you’ve determined your window of time, decided on your activities, place them in the appropriate order. As you get started with your routine, you’ll find some things work and some don’t. Revisit and refine it.
My morning routine
I’ve always been an early riser, more out of necessity than anything else. So, while I enjoy the benefits of my routine, I don’t love getting up as early as I do.
I’ve got two little kids, a wife, a career and a podcast. Fitting everything in demands an early start to my day.
- Alarm at 3:45. No negotiation, up and moving
- Turn on coffee maker
- 20 minute exercise bike ride
- Listen to podcasts. I do this after the bike ride and through my stretching.
- Drink hot water with Himalayan salt
- Post day’s podcast episodes to social media. My podcast is released daily
- Blend coffee, butter, MCT oil and turmeric
- Stretching. I stretch for roughly five minutes
- Listen to binaural beats. I turn these on in my headphones after stretching
- Read my goals, core beliefs, core values and affirmations. I have written down and I read them out loud
- Breathwork. I practice the Wim Hof method
- Writing. This is the centerpiece of my routine. I read Julia Cameron’s masterpiece The Artist’s Way and it changed my life
- Email/prep for the day. At 5:15, I’ll deal with any pressing emails and get organized for the day
- Shower at 5:30
- Make bed
- 6:00 podcast recording. The show is 20 minutes long, so I’ve got five minutes on the front end and five minutes on the back end to visit with the guest
- 6:30 podcast recording
- 7:00 kids up, make breakfast, begin day
This is not a game of perfect. It doesn’t go exactly this way every day; but it goes this way most days.
This is your morning routine. Take it seriously. Be proud of the fact you have one. Be proud of the fact you’re doing it. Should you find yourself not following it, that just means you need to revisit and refine it. Whatever you do, don’t give up on it.
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