Who knows the secret to a good morning routine? It's not the CEOs and it's not the millionaires. It's you.
I've read lots of those "inspirational" articles that share the best morning routine secrets of millionaires or super-successful CEOs, but they have never worked for me. Perhaps it's because I am neither a millionaire nor a super-successful CEO. So this time, I got smart. I decided to ask the real experts for advice for the best morning routine that boosts your mood, improves your productivity and keeps your days ticking over with a minimum of stress and overlooked obligations. I asked busy parents juggling family and work; people with "hidden" disabilities who have to conserve their strength to achieve what most of us take for granted; "pillars of the community" who also balance family obligations and full-time jobs. Forget Bill Gates: I took advice from the people who really know the importance of a good daily routine. Here are their top tips:
1. The day starts the night before: The single most common piece of advice for a good routine. Just take 10 minutes to clean things up and throw in a load of laundry before you fall into bed at night. Your mood will be so different if you start your day with a mostly-tidy home.
2. Make a To Do list: To help you to organize your mind and your time. It's best to make your to-do list the night before, so that in the morning you will already know what has to be done that day. BUT don't pile too much on your to-do list. Prioritize so that you don't set yourself up for failure.
As I get dressed in the morning I think of three things I need to do today. If anything else gets done from the list as well then it's a bonus.
3. Meditate/Pray: This one features high on the morning routines of busy-busy people. You should never be too busy to stop to pray, do a short guided meditation or read something inspirational. Having paused to collect your thoughts will keep you calm and focused, without that frazzled mind-all-over-the-place feeling that leads us to make bad decisions and forget vital jobs. And bringing God into your day can only be a good move.
4. Get up earlier: I know, it is really not easy to do. But it is so worth it! Our bodies are programmed to be more productive in the mornings, so make the most of it by getting up on time. Lots of busy people recommend getting up 15 minutes before the rest of your household. You'll gain time to pray or meditate, plan your day and the right to feel superior to people who stayed in bed till the last minute.
5. Go to bed on time: It'll be a lot easier to get up early if you've gone to bed early the night before. Going to bed on time or earlier than usual makes you more alert the next day, and better able to respond to the curve balls that life will inevitably throw your way.
6. Make your bed: It might seem insignificant, but many people told me that making their bed in the morning is a small, easy task that immediately makes their room look tidier. This sense of accomplishment then gives them the energy to move on to the next job. According to Admiral William McRaven, it's a keystone habit which is small in itself, but drags with it multiple positive lifestyle changes for a productive day.
7. Drink hot water with lemon: I can't pretend this appeals to me, but many people have advocated that drinking hot water with lemon in the morning gives you more energy than caffeine.
8. Don't turn on your electronics: Remember when your mother wouldn't let you watch TV until you were ready for school? Turning on your email or checking your phone for messages is the equivalent in time-draining potential. Unless this is itself an important morning task, hold it out as a reward for later.
9. Be creative about what works for you: One friend of mine uses paper goods for breakfast so that she doesn't come home to dirty breakfast dishes. Another working mother of ten has her children wash and get dressed the night before, then sleep in their clothes so that the mornings run more smoothly. While this is not a tip that I'll be adopting, I did take something important from it: if it makes life easier for you, do it, even if it is unconventional. It doesn't have to work for the 100 most busy single parents; it just has to work for you.
Do you have any favorite tips for the best morning routine? Let us know in the comments below.