Routines are part and parcel of a peaceful, healthy lifestyle. Not only do they provide structure and consistency to your day, but a good set of routines and habits can also be the perfect way to mitigate the threat of a lifetime disease through consistent long-term activity.
In other words, developing healthy habits can be your best bet at maintaining your health and wellness over time.
It’s important to note that a habit is more than just a repeated behavior. It consists of an action that is automatically triggered by contextual cues associated with a certain behavior or performance. Basically, a good habit happens “automatically” when you’re in the right scenario.
In addition, morning habits and routines have proven to be particularly effective. Research has shown that those who maintain morning routines make more money and tend to be more productive, organized, punctual, and even creative.
If you’re aware of the positive aspects of a good morning routine, but you’re just not sure how to establish one yourself, that’s okay. Below are seven simple steps that can help you assess your situation and then construct a morning routine that is perfect for your circumstances, needs, and personality.
1. Make Your Routine For You
Barack Obama works out every morning and avoids coffee. Jennifer Aniston drinks lemon water and meditates. Ernest Hemingway wrote as soon after first light as possible. The point? No matter what the level of success, everyone’s morning routines are different.
The first thing you should do when establishing your own routine is to consider the most important person that it will impact: yourself. That means: don’t just simply copy the sunrise habits of one of your idols or adopt a famous morning routine verbatim. Instead, start by putting yourself in the mindset that you must create a unique set of habits that will benefit you the most.
With that said, it’s perfectly fine to find inspiration in another’s routine. In fact, you may find that you wish to emulate the former POTUS’s workout habits or Miss Aniston’s commitment to mediation. If that’s the case, make them objectives to help motivate you to stick to whatever routine you end up choosing. Just don’t overcommit to forcing them to work for you.
2. Consider What You Need to Do
When it comes time to decide what the nitty-gritty parts of your routine will be, it’s important to start with needs over wants. Begin the process by tallying up all of the activities that you absolutely have to do each morning, routine or not. This includes things such as:
- Brushing your teeth and taking care of oral hygiene.
- Showering or bathing.
- Tending to other personal hygiene items like deodorant and your hair.
- Getting dressed.
- Eating breakfast.
These are good to identify early on in the process. Since they’re necessities that must be attended to each day, they’ll serve as the core of your morning routine.
3. Think About What You Want to Do
Once you’ve isolated the activities that must take place, it’s time to consider what else you’d like to accomplish before your day begins. This is the fun part, as you can indulge in more personally fulfilling behaviors such as:
- Working out.
- Going for a walk.
- Meditating and praying.
- Reading the news or even for pleasure.
- Writing in a journal or for a personal composition.
- Working on an art project.
Make a list of all of the extracurricular activities that you’d like to accomplish. Then order the list by priorities in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed by an ambitious slate of activities.
4. Plan Logistics
Once you have lists of your wants and needs, it’s time to assess what kind of framework you have to work with. In other words, it’s time to consider the logistics and feasibility of your morning routine. A few questions to ask yourself include:
- When do you go to bed each night? An adult should typically get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep — and good sleep is a priority for a healthy lifestyle. Your bedtime largely dictates how much time you’ll have each morning.
- When do you need to go to work or school? Basically, when do your daily responsibilities kick in? Remember to count from the beginning of a commute if you have to drive each day.
- How long do your top prioritized activities (both wants and needs) take to accomplish? Brushing your teeth may take five minutes, but a workout or meditation session could take a half-hour or more.
By asking yourself questions like these, you can figure out the window of time you have to work with each morning.
5. Start Small
At this point, you’re ready to start implementing a new morning routine. The best way to do this is by starting with small changes. Upending every aspect of your current routine in order to start a new one can cause unnecessary drama and discomfort in the short-term.
Instead, start by reordering your “need” behaviors (all of which you are likely already doing) into the best order possible. Then, once you’re adjusted to the change, start adding in one or two new “want” habits at a time. Eventually, you can add more items into the mix until you find the perfect rhythm for your morning. Just remember not to overcrowd your routine in the process of building it up.
6. Be Consistent
Every person develops habits at their own rate. In fact, one study found that it took between 18 and 254 days for participants to truly create a new habit. It also found that the process was unique on an individual level. The one effective constant that can be counted on when forming new habits, though, is consistency.
Whether it takes you a few weeks or a year to grow into your new activities, if you stick to your routine with consistency each and every morning, sooner or later it’ll become second nature to you. If you can have patience with yourself, eventually, you’ll be able to go about the activities as “automatic” behaviors that effortlessly prepare you for the day ahead.
7. Re-Evaluate as Needed
While humans are remarkably consistent creatures, they do mature and change over time. As such, it’s important to realize that you may outgrow your morning routine from time to time — and that’s perfectly normal. Brushing your teeth every morning (and evening) is a great habit, but if you’ve recently been outfitted with braces or Invisalign tooth aligners, you may find that your old brushing habit needs to be adjusted. There are lots of situations in which even positive habits need to change, or you become aware that certain passive habits just aren’t working as well anymore.
When you feel that this has happened, it’s time to re-evaluate your scenario. Head on back to the beginning of this list and assess needs, wants, and logistics. Look for areas where things have changed since you started. Perhaps you work a new shift or you had a child. Regardless of the reason, once pinpointed, you can use it to adjust your routine accordingly to better reflect your current needs, values, and desires.