Getting Back on that Horse: Morning Routine Woes

With my startup stagnating and facing significant setbacks, lately I’ve observed a lapse in discipline and consistency in my day to day routines.

It’s been harder for me to jump out of bed, I procrastinate on work, binge-watch Netflix or doom scroll, constantly put things off for later, and my morning routine is ALL OUT OF WHACK 😩 

Let’s not even mention my night routine, that’s non-existent at this point.

My daily routines are important to me; not doing them creates a vicious spiral of negativity. What started as simply as a desire to sit on the couch on my phone instead of doing work turns into a wave of self-loathing at my lack of discipline and overall worthlessness.

Self Loathing GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY
On the daily schedule.

When I don’t do my morning routine for a few consecutive days, it gets pretty bad.

They are part of what makes me happy in my day to day. Not doing them has the compound effect of demotivation. This vicious cycle of demotivation then only makes it harder for me to try and correct the behavior the next day and by not doing it, I sink further into a lower mood.

Leave Me Here To Die GIFs | Tenor

Humor tends to be my emotional band-aid — while funny in nature, the negative emotion behind the scenes is far from it.

Because of this, I decided that today is the day I would begin to flip this around. First by doing my morning routine, and then by reminding myself — and hopefully you — the power of routines and what they can do for you.

What are routines?

Early bird gets the worm?

FALSE - Dwight False - quickmeme
The consistent bird gets the worm 🐛

Consistency is key. And when boiled down, that’s what routines are. Routines are a series of regularly followed actions. Or, as mentioned in an earlier post, a standard operating procedure, so to speak.

However, routines can be a dirty word to some. In fact, while conducting user research for our startup concept, there seemed to be a concrete divide of two camps — pro-routine and against-routine.

For the ones that enjoy it (yours truly included 🙇🏻‍♀️ ), my morning routine has been a way to recenter myself and start my day on my terms. This means that before diving into any work, I focus on doing work that prioritizes my needs and growth before any other work.

Rihanna Queen GIF - Rihanna Queen Crown - Discover & Share GIFs | Rihanna  crown, Rihanna, Rihanna work
Doing my morning routine is the closest I’ll feel like Rihanna

Or, as Very Well Mind puts it —

The morning routine helps us set the tone for the day, better allowing us to control our schedules rather than our schedule controlling us. As we start each day fresh, we can better focus on what is in front of us, where to prioritize our time, and, ultimately, increase our productivity.

Very Well Mind, How to Use a Morning Routine to Be More Productive

In fact, Google “why morning routines are important” and you’ll get well over 50 million+ links about the value of morning routines.

Below is an aggregated list of popular morning routine choices that I’ve found via the internets. In fact, head to My Morning Routine where they published a brand new, inspiring morning routine and interviewed some of today’s most successful people about their morning routines.

Common morning routines:

  • Exercise (65%)
  • Emails / Work (38%)
  • Meditation (22%)
  • Gratitude Practice (22%)
  • Reading (22%)

Designing Your Own

When it comes to your own morning routine, everyone is different. When looking at the popular examples of morning routines above, you can easily combine a few of the common routines others use.

But, most importantly, you must cater this to what suits you, your interests, your style of operating, etc.

For example, I’ve consistently tried to incorporate a workout into my morning routine, but because I prefer work out classes and not an at home workout, I find I sometimes leave things behind or can’t bring all the things I need to the gym once I finish working out and head to the office.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to pack an important item I’ll need in the office (like, the right bra?!) that just leads to inconveniences that throw off my day. 

Mood Reaxction GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
TMI? Sorry guise

Thus, when designing your routine, there are a few important questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What are my priorities?
  • What is my end goal?
  • How can I simplify?

What are your priorities?

Is it family? Breakfast? Exercise? Work? Self reflection? Spiritual development? Etc. You need to understand what are things you want to prioritize for the morning, and adjust accordingly.

If family time and exercise is a priority, it’s important to allocate enough time for all tasks.

Breaking down tasks into things that are responsibility / task driven versus emotional / mental well being driven is also a great differentiator in how to differentiate your tasks. 

For example, I need to clean the apartment in the morning. Tidying the apartment every morning helps set me in the mood to conquer the day ahead, knowing that my home is tidy and a safe haven I can come home to if shit hits the fan.

cleaning gif | Tumblr

For my husband, it’s meditation and practicing Korean. Meditation helps him achieve the mental clarity needed to handle the tough design decisions at work as well as boost his intention and focus.

Everyone’s needs and priorities are different.

It could be making sure you look polished and perfect on the outside, so you are as glamorous on the outside as you are on the inside. Or spending family time with your kids one on one before they head off on their own activities. 

Understand your own needs and begin prioritizing them at the start of the day. What are yours?

What’s my end goal?

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.

Friedrich Nietzsche

If what you are doing has an underlying, powerful meaning to you, it will make it easier to overcome many obstacles in your path. Simply because these obstacles become irrelevant in the grand scheme of themes, or because this purpose drives you forward despite the pain of these obstacles.

On Purpose : Why Are You Here? - Chica

This has an impact on your routines, as well. Understanding why you want to create a routine — to better yourself, to grow, to get that job — whether it’s a concrete goal or an abstract desire, the important thing is to start with why.

Ask yourself: What it is you are willing to work towards?

How can I simplify this down to a single, repeatable action?

Now that you understand what your overarching goal is, it’s time to assess how you can channel this into a recurring behavior — or a good habit.

Simplify the task into a daily habit you can do. The smallest level of action has less friction, and as a result, increases the likelihood of consistency.

Anderson Cooper Orderless Existence GIF by Team Coco - Find & Share on GIPHY

If your goal is to become a great artist, ask yourself — what is the smallest repeatable action I can do daily to improve myself? 

TL;DR

  • Routines are a form of consistency; a personal standard operating procedure
  • To create your own, ask yourself these three key questions:
    • What are my priorities?
    • What is my end goal?
    • How can I simplify?
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