Why Your Morning Routine is Garbage & What You Can Do About It.


Don’t count on your morning routine to radically change your life. There. I said it.

We’ve all heard the promises of how springing out of bed into a committed morning routine will change our lives. If we just commit, we’ll be more organized, focused, fit, and generally unstoppable. Promotions will fall in our lap. Peers will be inspired by our words. We will be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and our dogs will learn to make the bed. Basically, we will have found nirvana. But somehow these promises of grandeur seem to keep falling short again and again.

No matter how dedicated we think we are, the snooze button gets hit. No matter how many times we promise ourselves we will hit the ground running, there is more shuffling than sprinting. That healthy breakfast we envisioned turns into a cold slice of pizza & a strong cup of coffee inhaled en route. The power outfit you envisioned turned into a comfortable “this will have to do” ensemble… and another day has begun as either a lackluster slog or a chaotic scramble - but definitely not the purposeful, organized beginning we had envisioned.

What in the world keeps going wrong?

Well, I have a little secret to share… wait for it… EVERY DAY STARTS THE DAY BEFORE.

You hit the snooze button 3 times because you didn’t go to bed on time or because you slept poorly. You modified your outfit decision 3 times because the perfect shirt was dirty, the clean shirt was wrinkled, and the button disappeared from those pants 2 weeks ago. Your healthy breakfast became a “breakfast bar” which was really a cookie in disguise because apparently those strawberries had grown little fuzzy jackets of mold and you learn the hard way that the milk was halfway to cottage cheese.

What I’m trying to say is that your morning is just the inevitable outcome of your evening routine. So, how can you leverage this newfound information to increase the chance of that perfect morning you’ve been dreaming of? Include these 5 tried and true strategies to reap the benefits of a fabulous tomorrow.

1.) Use technology to do your bidding whenever possible.

*Thermostat – Never underestimate the positive results that come from exposing your body to the right temperature at the right time. Get a programmable thermostat or strategically set the one you have. The key here is to set the timing so that when your alarm goes off your room is at the temperature you want it to be. Do not set the temperature to “kick on” as your alarm goes off. Getting the right timing right will subtly alert your body that it’s about time to get up AND it will remove one more excuse for staying under the covers on cold mornings. Do the reverse in the evening. For example, if you want to sleep in a 60 - 67 degree room (which is recommended for sleep) set the thermostat so that the furnace kicks off, or the AC cranks on, a half hour BEFORE your planned bedtime. The goal is for your head to hit the pillow as the temperature hits the target temp. There may be some trial and error, but once it is programmed in this is just one less thing – so that’s pretty good.

*Coffee maker – Wake up and smell the coffee – literally. Set your coffee maker to start brewing a few minutes before your alarm goes off. The smell of coffee will become a welcome part of your daily wakeup. If you have a maker that can’t be programmed, consider buying a timer or at least having it all set up to brew at the push of a button. Knowing a hot cup of joe is already waiting for you can be just the extra motivation needed to get moving.

*Light alarm – The goal here is create your own little inspiring sunrise. Light is THE best way to encourage your circadian rhythm to wake you up and get you moving. What I love about working with your own circadian rhythm is that it’s free, predictable, and hardwired to help you do what need to do when you need to do it. Simply put a lamp on a timer or invest in a light alarm. The light doesn’t have be particularly bright. This is not an effort to jolt you out of bed. It is just meant to give your body a heads-up that it’s about time to start a glorious new day. Your alarm can go off a few minutes after the light gently nudges you awake.

*Phone – By all means take advantage of your phone’s various alarms, do not disturbs, and away message options to better your chances of optimal slumber. However, if you want a morning routine that kicks butt: DON’T use your phone for an hour or two before you go to sleep. Not only do our phones tend to provide stimulation to our brains in the form of color, motion, engagement, and FOMO, but the light itself sends the signal to your body that the wheels should keep spinning – which is the complete opposite of the winding down for the night that you need in the evening.

2.) Make your food decisions the night before. If you envision a full-out, real deal breakfast think about how you can prep the night before to have a seamless morning execution. Can you measure or chop ingredients the night before the way they would on a cooking show? Can you set out the pan, spatula, and plate? Can you leave the toaster on the counter with the bread right beside it? … or how about just setting out your cereal, bowl, spoon, and milk glass next to the refrigerator so that you can do a couple of quick pours and be on to the next thing? If all you plan to do is grab a breakfast bar, then at least make it healthy and set it beside the coffee maker.

3.) Set out your outfit(s) – Whatever you are going to wear the following day should be determined and set aside. Personally, I’m a big fan of the office “uniform” which saves oodles of time in decision making. Having said that, most of us can’t get away with the Steve Jobs look and frankly wouldn’t want to. But whether you wear a business suit or jeans to work, decide in advance what that outfit will be. Look for ways to simplify it: Same belt every day? Same necklace and earrings? Always blank pants, a solid colored blouse, and a long sweater? Reserve a space in your closet & organize a week’s worth of outfits on Sunday night then don’t give it another thought for a week – kinda like the day of the week underwear that were popular in the 70’s … but the question remains… where was Sunday?

4.) Designate an EXIT staging area. Keep keys, purse, briefcase, jacket, & workout bag all set out in a predetermined location. Next to the door you will exit is a winning strategy. Just drop them there on your way in the house & pick them back up on your way out the next morning. If you take your briefcase to your home office to do some evening catch-up work, return it to the exit area packed & ready to go for the next day. There is no worse way to start your day than in a scramble to find your keys or to get to work & realize that you didn’t put your thumb drive or laptop back in your backpack. It’s called a backpack to remind you to put important things BACK into it… ok, not really, but you can think of it that way if it helps.

4.) Practice good sleep hygiene. Commit yourself to going to bed at the same time every night, & sleeping in a cool, dark room. Avoid caffeine, sugar, or alcohol in the evening (sorry, don’t kill the messenger). Limit your exposure to drama – on TV or in real life. Make your bedroom as quiet as possible. Set aside all your screens an hour or two before sleep. Trade in some of your evening TV watching with your new evening routine – you’ll be killing two birds with one stone.

So are you ready to reap all the benefits of the perfect morning routine? Then start the night before!

5.) Practice good sleep hygiene. Commit yourself to going to bed at the same time every night, & sleeping in a cool, dark room. Avoid caffeine, sugar, or alcohol in the evening (sorry, don’t kill the messenger). Limit your exposure to drama – on TV or in real life. Make your bedroom as quiet as possible. Set aside all your screens an hour or two before sleep. Trade in some of your evening TV watching with your new evening routine – you’ll be killing two birds with one stone.

So are you ready to reap all the benefits of the perfect morning routine? Then start the night before!

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