I wasn’t always a morning person. That’s just the hard truth. But as I’ve trained my body to start the day right, my slow morning routine has become one of my most sacred and guarded activities. If I fail to accomplish at least some semblance of my morning routine then my day is far less productive, inspiring, and motivating. It’s safe to say my slow mornings are integral to my well-being, both in mindset and productivity.
If you’ve been newly introduced to the importance of morning routines, then you might be feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you think it’s unattainable or far too stringent for you to truly accomplish. If that’s the case, there’s something you should know about morning routines. They are really designed to act as a guiding purpose for your day. They don’t necessarily have to be strict or rigid or unchanging. It’s not like you have to choose one exact morning routine and use it forever. That’s just not realistic! However, I would encourage you to outline a morning routine (or try out mine!) and give it your all for at least one week. You’ll notice some things work better for you than others. You’re completely allowed to switch around your order of operations, get rid of a habit that doesn’t seem to be working for you, or add a new one you want to try. There are very few hard and fast rules when it comes to creating your own routine.
That being said, I do have a few cardinal guidelines that will always apply to my morning routine. These are the only exacting rules that I think should apply to a slow morning, solely because they maintain a certain integrity to the routine itself. Here they are:
Rules for a Successful Slow Morning Routine
Rule #1: No Phones
No phones. No phones. NO. PHONES. Should I say it again? Your phone is an incredible, wonderful device. It contains a world all its own between just a few layers of plastic and metal. That’s pretty incredible. What’s not to love? However, using your phone should be about balance. Picking up your phone at any time of day can be like falling into a black hole of content. But first thing in the morning you are going to have a much harder time than usual of climbing back out. If the first thing you do when you wake up is check your phone, then your slow morning routine is already off to a bad start. You want to use this precious time to center and focus. Your phone can’t be a part of that.
The sole exception to this rule is using your phone only as a way to stream accompanying content that enhances your morning, like music or a podcast. If you choose to open your phone screen at all it should be for the express purpose of going straight into your podcast player, audiobook app, or music downloads and pressing play. That’s it. Do NOT click on any of your notifications. Do not check your messages. Do not view your email. Do not open the news app. Do not lose focus on the purpose of your slow morning routine by falling into your phone first thing. I know it’s hard, but trust me. The more separation you can create between your real life and your phone life, especially first thing in the morning, the more productive, fulfilled, and relaxed you will feel.
Rule #2: Good Vibes Only
I will never understand why people watch or read the news first thing in the morning. It will still be there waiting for you in a few hours. There’s no need to spoil the relaxed, happy vibes in your morning routine with content that is guaranteed to do only a few things: upset, infuriate, enrage, sadden, or disappoint. If you want a beneficial morning routine that will lead to a more productive day overall, then keep your activities centered around good vibes only.
Rule #3: Avoid the Rush
The key word in “slow morning” is—you guessed it—slow. If you’re the kind of person who wakes up so late that you have to be out the door fifteen minutes after your head has left the pillow then it will be nearly impossible for you to have a productive slow morning. Slow mornings aren’t designed only for people with hours to spare. There is a routine available to you no matter how much time you have. But, if you’re spending the time you do have rushing from thing to thing before you run out the door, then you need to reconsider a few things. First, what time are you waking up compared to what time you need to leave? Second, how much time do you need for the slow morning routine you want to achieve? Whether you have thirty minutes or two hours, be thoughtful about your time and use it with peaceful intention.
Rule #4: Prepare
This last rule is set with the goal of managing time to the best of your ability and for increasing focus. For example, if I want to listen to audiobook in the mornings, then I need to have that audiobook selected, downloaded, and ready to play.
On the other hand, if I wake up in the morning knowing I want to listen to some sort of audiobook, but I don’t have one picked out, then I’m already wasting precious time. Now I have to deep dive into my phone to shop for my next listen. With that one action I’m exposing myself to a barrage of thoughts I don’t really need first thing in the morning, things like: how many audible credits do I have, let me check my favorite book blogger’s feed for the recommendation I saved, I wonder what the rating of these books are on goodreads, maybe I should listen to this sale audiobook instead, oh look—a message from my friend on Facebook, maybe I’ll just scroll here for a few minutes, and on and on it goes. This is just one small example.
Do you see how easy it is to fall into that black hole of content? Instead of wasting time you could otherwise be enjoying in your slow morning routine, take just a few minutes to prepare the night before. Ask yourself this each evening: what can I take five minutes to prepare now that will make my life easier tomorrow morning? Maybe that’s setting out your clothes for the next day, or making list of daily goals. It’s up to you!
My Slow Morning Routine (2019)
Let the Light In
The first thing I do when I wake up every morning is flip back my covers to air out the sheets and then walk to my living room, where I spend most of my morning, and open the blinds wide. I’ve always been a person who prefers blinds open. We’re very lucky to have views of a small lake and walking path. One of my favorites things as I go throughout my routine is to watch the birds waking up, the ducks and geese drifting by and opening sleepy eyes to start their own days. This is part of why I like waking up early. The world is still quiet. It’s the perfect time to focus on you.
I always take a second to turn on something to listen to. For me, it is usually my current audiobook, some music, or a favorite podcast. Whatever I listen to is stress-free and either encouraging or laughter-inducing. I often use this time to listen to a self-development book on audio or listen to gentle music (like a folk station). What’s key here is making sure you’re using your phone solely as a play button and nothing else. Go straight to the content you’ve decided on and press play. After that, the phone goes back down.
I do something in the morning that most people would probably find strange. I love to clean. I know. Weird, right? But hear me out!
I’ve trained myself to be quite houseproud. I split up the cleaning duties throughout the week so that I only spend 15-30 minutes each day on maintaining a bright and clean house. There are a few reasons I love to start the day this way. First, it sets a sense of accomplishment straight off. It’s a pretty great feeling to already have the laundry sorted, the dishes put away, the dusting done, etc., within the first few minutes of waking up. Second, this doesn’t require much thought in the morning. It’s a body-driven task that’s mostly habit. It gets your body moving and lets your mind start to wake up fully. Third, it gives you a great setting to relax in. All the hard house work is already done! You don’t have to spend all day with the nagging reminder that you still need to do one chore or another before the day is over.
I love task lists and I love crossing things off of them. By tidying up in the morning I get the satisfaction of crossing a few things off almost immediately. I start to feel like I can accomplish more, because I’ve already started.
Make the Bed
In that same vein, I like to make the bed before I go any further. Plenty of popular morning routines recommend this small change and the reason why is clear: it’s just nice! It’s like a gift to your future self. By making the bed and setting things in your bedroom straight, you know that when bedtime comes around you have a welcoming, peaceful environment to come home to.
Now that the tidying is done, I take a few minutes to get dressed. This is different for different people. I work from home. That means my wardrobe is usually designed for comfort and I don’t have to think too hard about what I put on. Ah, serenity.
Wash Your Face
About this time I am starting to feel truly awake. Giving my face and eyes a good wash with warm water gets me all the way there and I feel ready for phase two of my morning.
I spend about 10 minutes (set a timer if you like) stretching in the living room. I have my own routine for this, but feel free to do whatever movement suits your body best. Try some yoga, some simple calisthenics, or even just simple toe-touches. It doesn’t have to be complex! So many of us spend lengthy hours at our desks every day. Even ten minutes of movement is better than zero. Do your body a favor.
Before I head out the door for my next step, I take a few minutes to create a little gift for my future self. It would be lovely if we all had house elves that diligently prepared our breakfast, setting out our favorite tea cup and grabbing our cereal box. However, most of us don’t. It’s worth taking sixty seconds to set up a little treat for yourself. Before I leave for my walk I grab my teacup, add fresh water to the kettle, get the sugar and tea out of the cupboard, and snag a bowl to set out next to my cereal box. I know this seems silly and small to some people, but try it! No one is going to magically make things lovely on your behalf, you have to make those little moments happen for yourself. Take a few seconds to make life a little more beautiful.
Go for a Walk
I’m a person who needs some nature and some sun. Walks in the morning, before most other people are up and about, are some of the most relaxing. I often take my audiobook or music with me, depending on my mood. Not only is a morning walk in nature visually relaxing and rejuvenating, it also gets the body moving and the blood flowing before a long day spent at my keyboard. Maybe you don’t like walks and prefer a swim, or a bike ride, or dancing. It doesn’t matter! Just spend some time alone with yourself in contemplation.
Breakfast & Tea
The first thing I do when I get home from my walk is flip the switch on my teakettle. I wait for the water to boil and enjoy the little breakfast set up I prepared for myself before leaving. I can’t help but feel a bit pampered even though it was me who did the pampering! Once tea is brewed and cereal poured I sit down for about fifteen minutes. What I do during this time varies. Sometimes I play a record. Sometimes I make a task list for the day. Sometimes I embrace the quiet and read from my current book. I consider this my last bit of relaxation before I get to work for the day.
The last thing I do before getting to work on my regular projects is dedicate 15-20 minutes to learn something new. Sometimes that’s a YouTube video on a skill I want to improve, an article on a subject I’m interested in—anything as long as it is something that develops the mind. I use this as the warm up for a day spent at my desk, a first task that’s a mix of fun and focus before getting to work on my daily list.
If you decide to try a slow morning routine or make an update to your current plans, I’d love to hear about them! Drop me a comment below or say hi on Instagram (@outofthebex).
Til next time,
Bex Skoog (formerly Bex Gorsuch) is a Book Blogger and Instagram Influencer who strives to connect readers with their next favorite book and encourages avid bibliophiles to make use of the inspiration found in fiction by implementing story into their day-to-day lives.
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