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Don’t Believe the Hype! There is No Perfect Way to Start Your Day

Morning routines are all over the headlines these days. But is there really an optimal way to kick yourself into gear every morning?
by Carrie M. King | Sep 17 2018

The quest for the perfect morning routine is currently very much in vogue. Hundreds of articles espouse the benefits of having your mornings in order and list routines of the rich and famous as blueprints for how we can better start the day. However, if you’re neither a fan of mornings nor routines, this can all seem very prescriptive, unrealistic, and, at worst, demotivating.

I’ve never been a morning person. Even when I was a very small child, unless there were Saturday morning cartoons that needed urgent watching, my parents would have to pretty much crowbar me out of bed.

As an adult, I still retain a deep affection for those last few minutes of shuteye and my mind is boggled by the kinds of people who bound out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to go running, do yoga, and save the world all before breakfast.

Morning routines are written about with a kind of smug morality that also finds its way into content about working hard, eating clean, and living an optimal life. So, does my affinity for the snooze button mean that success is out of reach?

Well, as it turns out, there probably is no “perfect” morning routine. A new book by Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander, My Morning Routine, is a collection of interviews with 64 different prominent people about how they spend the first few hours of their day.

The routines cataloged range from pretty standard to downright strange, and while there are plenty of people who believe in the powers of productive mornings, there is no cookie-cutter example that makes one person more successful than the next. What it really comes down to is what makes you as an individual feel good and grounded.

Do you want to play with your kids for an hour before the school run? Then do that. Do you want to eat some weird concoction that only you could love? That’s cool, too. However, if you have no morning routine, it is a good idea to think about starting one. We are, after all, creatures of ritual and having the right one can help you psychologically tune in to a place that centers you, calms you, and gets you ready for whatever the day has in store.

According to author Benjamin Spall, the key is to start small. Don’t promise yourself that you’ll run 5k in the morning. Promise yourself that you’ll run for 5 minutes. That way, it’s easier for you to feel a sense of completion and achievement, and you’re more likely to keep it up.

“…just keep everything short and easy to accomplish because that is that is how you build it. And if you just decide that you want to do everything all at once, it’s really not going to work. But if you slowly add items to a morning routine, maybe one a week for a very short amount of time, over time, you’ll learn what you enjoy and you’ll be able to build it up.”

– Benjamin Spall speaking on Simplify

So, don’t feel stressed into thinking that if you don’t get up at the crack of dawn you’re not doing your mornings right. Whatever make you feel good is what your optimal morning routine is. It could be as simple as making sure you make your bed, taking 5 minutes to sit and enjoy your first cup of coffee, and leaving your phone off until you step out your front door.

As Caitlin Schiller said when rounding up the interview, “there’s no wrong way to do a morning routine. Do what fits for you. But within that is the idea of keep everything simple. Do less than you think you should do. Because you really want to make it sustainable. Once you have that foundational habit in place, you can add fancy stuff, like superfood smoothies and handstand push-ups.”

So, be gentle with yourself. It is first thing in the morning after all. Do what works for you, keep it simple, and build it up from there. Like any good habit, very soon you’ll be surprised at how natural it feels and how you ever lived without it.

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