You know you really should have a morning routine that sets you up for a successful rest of the day, and that hitting the snooze button three times each morning doesn’t count. And if you’re like 2/3 of American adults (per a 2019 survey by One Poll), you crave more control over your mornings. But you don’t have the energy or the time to commit to an involved morning ritual. And maybe even more importantly, you know that each day is a little different and that the thought of doing the same thing every day from now until forever is…. Daunting? Uninspiring? A little bit like the movie Groundhog Day in its repetitiveness?
Here’s the thing. A successful morning routine doesn’t have to mean that you do the exact same thing every day. You can commit to doing something good for yourself without roping yourself into monotony. What you need is to not get hung up on the specifics. Rather, you choose a structure that you can commit to and then decide, based on that day’s needs, what to fill in that structure with.
Sound confusing? Here are 5 examples of what I mean. I hope one will speak to you. As an added bonus, they are all things you can do so quickly and with such little extra effort that the odds are great that you’ll be able to do them consistently enough that they become, well, routine.
Read for 15 minutes
To me, there’s nothing more nourishing than losing yourself in a book, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. And, if you’re a book lover, doing it before you even get up and get going for the day makes you feel like you’re winning before your feet even hit the floor. The books will change; what stays constant is that you indulge in seeing the world through someone else’s eyes for just a little while every day. It broadens your horizons, opens your heart and your mind, and warms up your brain for some creative thinking.
Check in with your body—and then give it just the stretch it needs
Galina Denzel, author of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well, suggests varying your morning routine according to what you most need that day. “Choose what would be helpful that day. Today it might be stretching your wrists and shoulders,” but tomorrow it may be lying on the floor in constructive rest, or doing a downdog. The variety will keep you engaged, and having the time devoted to whatever you need most will help you feel your best.
Listen to a daily podcast
There’s a new crop of short, daily podcasts that can be listened to in just a few minutes, including Before Breakfast with Laura Vanderkam and my own podcast, How to Be a Better Person. These podcasts put a positive voice in your head and constructive marching orders for the rest of the day.
Have a morning beverage, alone
A morning routine doesn’t have to be virtuous to be beneficial. In fact, the more you enjoy it, the more you will stick with it, says executive coach Patty Lennon. “Any routine I’ve had that lasted more than 12 months was designed around what I really wanted to do as opposed to something that felt like a ‘should.'” And who doesn’t want to enjoy a tasty cup of coffee or tea in the morning? Wake up 15 minutes before everyone else to enjoy your coffee, or tea, or hot cocoa, or turmeric latte (you get to choose based on what you have on hand and what sounds good) in quiet.
Fill up a gorgeous notebook
Every day, open up a notebook you love and spend 10 minutes putting something down on paper—it could be a journal entry, a drawing, song lyrics, the dream you had last night, or a to-do list. It’s not what you write that counts; it’s that you give your inner thought process a chance to reveal itself each day.
I hope one of these speaks to you and inspires you to claim some time in the morning for yourself in a way that feels fun, new, and exciting, and not like you’re stuck in a loop of sameness from now until you can figure out how to get Andie McDowell to kiss you!