A splash of cold water on my face lifts me from the lull of sleep. My coffeemaker sputters to life, and the first rays of morning light peek over the hills outside my window. These are the daily rhythms of my morning, bringing calm and comfort in their repetition no matter what’s in store for the day ahead. I first began cultivating a morning routine back in college—I found solace in creating structure during such a transitional season. I think this was my first step toward actively seeking wellness in my life, and over the years, my morning routine has become the heart of my journey toward personal growth.
Throughout the month, I’ve been sharing how I create a vision for my life (with the Vision Workbook I use to clarify it), and I’ve mapped out how to set and achieve goals that will move the needle toward that vision. Today, I’m sharing the linchpin of the entire process:
Establish a morning routine where you can see your vision daily, review your goals, and (this is key) hold up your calendar to see if the way you’re spending your time matches up.
Also, we launched our new Youtube channel today! We’re kicking it off with my exact morning routine—so check it out and I’d love for you to subscribe to our channel because we have SO many fun episodes coming your way.
Table of Contents
When asked some form of the question, “How do you get everything done in a day?” My answer is—I don’t! I’m a mom, I run two businesses, and like most of you, I’m juggling a lot. There are an endless number of things I could be doing. So often, “productivity” focuses on how we can be doing more, but at this point in my life, I’m focusing on doing less—while prioritizing the most important things.
Since we all know that our best intentions can be sidelined by factors outside our control (a meeting ran over, the school nurse called—your kid is sick, errands took you twice as long as expected), the early morning is the best time to get really clear about what we’re going to prioritize that day. It sounds simple, but I truly believe this is key in designing the life of your dreams.
Since I love getting inspired by others’ morning routines, I thought it might be helpful to share my own. Here’s the play-by-play:
My alarm goes off, I glance at the sleep stats on my Oura ring, then I head into the bathroom, splash my face with cold water, cleanse and moisturize.
I head into the kitchen and turn on the coffeemaker (I always get it ready the night before). While it’s brewing, I feed our cat Clem, and prepare my cozy living room spot with my iPad for journaling, headphones, and whatever book I’m reading. I grab my Ritual Mug and get comfy—this is my favorite part of the day.
I pop in my air pods and do a quick meditation or mindfulness app to get in the zone—lately I’ve been listening to “get energized” from the Superhuman app, then I switch to relaxing music and start journaling.
You guys, I am obsessed with my new journaling method. Adam surprised me with an iPad Pro for Christmas, and it’s been game-changing because I can combine handwriting with typing. I use the Evernote app so that it’s all searchable (yep, even my handwriting) since I often go back and revisit my journal for newsletter ideas or quotes I’ve jotted down.
My journaling is a combo of creative free-writing, prayer, and recording things from the day before that I want to remember later. If I’m experiencing writers’ block, I just put pencil to iPad and start writing—anything, even if it makes no sense it always sparks something I want to dive deeper into.
I also use this time to read something inspiring, which helps me get in a positive headspace for the day and grounds me in what’s important. Right now, I’m reading passages from the book, To Bless the Space Between Us, and I always write down one quote or takeaway to help synthesize what I’ve read.
Next, it’s time to get out my Vision Workbook and review the following sections:
Mine is “less distraction, more engagement.”
It’s amazing how just reading the word “energized” immediately give me more energy.
It may sound repetitive to read these goals every morning, but trust me: there’s something about getting clear on what matters to you daily that changes everything.
This step takes just a few minutes, but it probably has the most powerful effect on the rest of my day.
Since the way we spend our time is a direct expression of what’s most important to us, isn’t it worth it to be intentional with how we’ve allocated our precious hours in the day ahead?
After reviewing my goals, it’s the perfect time to examine whether my calendar is aligned and balanced. I can ensure that it’s not too heavily weighted towards one area of life (like career) while sacrificing all the others (like health or family.) For example, if one of my goals is to be a better listener with my kids, I can see where on my calendar that day I can drop a few minutes of time for undistracted conversation. If I’ve committed to doing pilates 2x per week, I can see if that’s on my calendar—and if it’s not, find a place for it! Yes, you might have to cancel or move something else that’s on your calendar to make room for these priorities. Saying “no” to some things so you can say “yes” to others is all part of the process.
Life is crazy busy, and for me, I have to be super intentional about making time for the important stuff or else my schedule will easily crowd them out.
My Vision Workbook serves as a reminder of my goals and my action steps. I use my calendar to make sure I’m spending my time on them. And the final step of my morning routine is to write down the three most important tasks for me to get done that day. They can be work-related or personal, they just need to align with my overall goals so I can make sure I’m always making progress.
Usually, I write these down in my journal, and then I also keep a pad of paper on my desk where I’ll write them down so I can easily see them throughout my workday.
You know those days where it feels like you’re just spinning your wheels and hopping from one thing to the next, but it feels like you have nothing to show for it? Even on days like that, if I accomplish my top three priorities, I can end the day knowing that even if I didn’t get everything done, I still got the most important things done.
It’s time to get the kids up, and the mad dash begins to get everyone dressed, fed, and out the door for school. One great thing about getting up before everyone else is that I can be laser-focused on the morning routine I laid out above. Then when my kids get up, I can be totally focused on my time with them.
And, this brings me to the other most important thing about a morning routine:
Create good habits, but don’t hold to them too tightly. Sometimes life gets in the way, and it’s better to roll with it instead of resisting.
When Henry was younger, he would wake up at 5 am and want my attention first thing, so my morning routine often started by reading or playing a game with him. No, a round of Chutes and Ladders isn’t the way I would have chosen to start my day (especially at 5 o’clock in the morning), but I learned to enjoy those sweet times and remember—it’s a season, and it won’t last forever.
Drop your morning routine questions in the comments, and be sure to head to our brand new Youtube channel to watch my entire routine in action! If you like it, please subscribe to our channel—we have so many amazing episodes planned for the coming months.
And if you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your own copy of my Vision Workbook. It’s totally free, and I truly want it to be a useful tool to help you create the life of your dreams.