Have you had those days where you find yourself dashing out the door with hardly enough time to gather everything you need? Forget about remembering to grab your morning coffee! That used to be me; I’d wake up half an hour before I had to leave for work, shower quickly, and make a mad dash to my car with barely enough time to swing by the coffee shop. I’d make it to work just in time, albeit a bit frazzled, and begin my day.
Back in April, I found myself with more free time than I’d ever had before. I needed to structure my days so that I was being productive while also making time for the things I love – like reading, painting, or cooking, without feeling rushed. I found that the addition of these small changes made such an overall impact in my day, and is a healthier start to my mornings.
1. Set Your Alarm Clock One Hour Earlier Than the Time You Actually Need to Wake Up
If I keep my bedtime fairly consistent, this wake-up call is pretty easy to stick to. Now by waking up one hour earlier, it doesn’t mean I try to fit one hour’s worth of work into that time, it means giving myself the time to have a leisure morning. This also goes the same for weekends! Keeping my wake-up time consistent into the weekend mornings means no interruption to the sleep schedule and Monday morning won’t hit as hard as it used to.
2. Do Not Check Your Phone Until Your Routine is Finished
Right up until this past April, I would turn off my alarm in the mornings and immediately check my emails and social media, then the next thing I know I’m still in bed, 30+ minutes have passed and I now have to rush to get out the door. However, the extra our provided is not to encourage this bad habit, but to do the exact opposite. Leave the distractions on your nightstand until your are ready to head out the door, then check your phone for any last minute reminders or messages just in case there’s anything you may need that’s out of the ordinary.
3. Reading at Breakfast
This one is a challenge within itself, and I’m always up for a good challenge! For years, I’ve always considered a cup or two of coffee to be my breakfast, and neglected to actually eat anything. As I’ve gotten older and more mindful of my health, I’ve made it a priority to take 15 minutes in the morning to eat something quick and healthy alongside my morning cup of coffee. Instead of scrolling through social media, I try to read at least one chapter of my book (currently reading The Lilac Girls) while enjoying my breakfast. Reading is something I’m passionate about and I think it’s so important to keep developing the mind. Plus, literature can be a great conversation starter!
4. Keep Moving
I recently began doing barre classes with a friend every weekend, and it’s been a great way to get my exercise in without feeling like a workout. I thoroughly enjoy classes as opposed to going to a gym, which I can’t stand, to be honest. I always fund myself making excuses not to go in the past, or I’d get there and spend all my time sitting on the stationary bike. Attending barre and yoga classes is not only a great way to switch things up (the instructors and classes are different every time), but having a workout partner helps hold me accountable. I find that getting my blood flowing helps clear my head and helps me feel refreshed and energized for the day ahead.
5. Try Meditating
I highly encourage you to be open minded about this one. It’s been proven that those who made meditation a daily practice typically reported a significant difference in their levels of calmness and overall outlook on life. I began meditating back in April with the app Simple Habit (it’s free) and have noticed I’m more present and aware each moment. And, as someone who suffers from anxiety and frequent panic attacks, I’ve found that the meditations tailored for anxiety actually do help to center me and bring me back in the midst of an attack. They have all different kinds of meditations you can try, and all the times vary, so you can still meditate even if you are short on time.
6. Tidy Up
An organized space is an organized mind. Set a time for 15 minutes, and get as much done in that time as you can. You’d be surprised at how much you can tackle! Emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, or clearing off the counter should only take you a couple of minutes. Do what you can to make your home more inviting for when you return at the end of the work day, so that you can spend less time tidying up and more time unwinding. I try to stick to keeping my home 15-minutes from guest ready at any time.
I’ve found that with these small tweaks to my routine I’m not only more productive throughout the day but I’m also more present and focused, which is so important for me since I typically can have one million things that need my attention from many different directions. My homework for you: pick 2-3 of these if you don’t already do them, and try to implement them into your daily routine. It’s okay if you don’t have time for them during the week: try them on the weekend instead! And be gentle with yourself. If you find yourself slacking, be kind to yourself and get yourself back on track the next day. No one’s perfect!