Recently I came across this article about the morning routines of 21 “successful” women. (I’m putting “successful” in quotation marks there because it’s subjective. I think we each have our own definition of success.) I clicked through to the article with some trepidation, expecting to read things like “I get up at 4 a.m. and take a 5-mile run. That gets my blood pumping so I’m ready to conquer the day. Then I drink a vegan spinach smoothie to boost my energy level even further!”
I realize women like this exist in the world but, alas, I am not one of them.
So what surprised me was that many of the women’s morning routines are very simple and straightforward. Anna Curran, founder of Cookbook Create, does yoga and eats a healthy breakfast so that “I start my day by caring for myself.” Meredith Fineman, founder of FinePoint, says “I don’t turn on my phone until I’ve brushed my teeth, made breakfast, and gotten dressed. Not only does it make me more productive, but it’s a reminder that I can separate.”
I thought about my own morning routine and considered the things I do on a regular basis. Some things are definitely working for me:
I shower in the evening, not in the morning.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have very thick and very curly hair. It takes forever to dry–and it needs to dry naturally. (Diffusers are a lie. If you have curly hair, you know this already.) So I shower in the evening and let my hair air dry before I go to sleep. If it gets wild overnight, I tame it with product. When that doesn’t work, I wear it up.
I get up when the alarm goes off.
Hitting the snooze button only leads to bad energy: rushing around, forgetting things because I’m in a hurry, going to work in a terrible mood because I forgot important things. So I never hit the snooze button. Never. If I’m really tired, I make a deal with myself: “If you get up now, you can take a nap this afternoon.” (I’m not a napper, so you’d think I would have figured out that this won’t happen–but it still works to get me out of bed.)
I do, very occasionally, oversleep. That’s why I try to set my alarm for some time before Mike’s, so that his will wake me up if I turn mine off without fully waking up.
I build in time for putzing around.
I hate being in a rush. I hate it more than I love sleeping. For that reason, I get up about an hour before I have to start getting dressed for work. This gives me plenty of time for feeding the animals, drinking coffee, watching a bit of the morning news, and having something to eat before I even have to think about facing the day.
On the other hand, this article helped me discover a few things I could be doing a little differently. These small changes might actually improve my morning hours:
Waiting to look at my phone.
I used to turn my phone off at night. I charge it in the evening; turning it off ensured the battery would still be full in the morning. When my children away went to college, though, I started leaving it on all night. I felt better knowing they could get in touch with me whenever they needed to. Of course, that meant I was sometimes pulled back from the brink of sleep by a text notification. (Thankfully, none of those texts was ever an emergency.)
When I turned off my phone at night, I’d sometimes forget to turn it on again in the morning. These days, I often look at my phone before I even get out of bed. So I’m going back to turning off my phone at bedtime. That will help me remember that texts and social media can wait until I’m ready for them. I don’t need to be at the mercy of my Facebook notifications.
Taking time to focus on my spirit.
Several of the women in this article mentioned a spiritual practice, whether prayer or meditation. I try to make prayer the last thing I do every night. It’s a habit, at this point, so I don’t even think about doing it–I just do. (Unless I’m so exhausted that I pass out before I can assemble my thoughts, of course.)
As I read this article, it occurred to me that I could start my day the same way. I’m going to give it a shot, anyway. I’ve tried daily devotionals in the past and found that they just don’t work for me, but a Bible app I recently discovered–which features a “Verse of the Day” option–might actually be something I can stick with.
Consuming less news.
I concede that the news is often depressing. Nevertheless, I just refuse to become a person who doesn’t know what’s going on in the world. Still, I’m going to try cutting local news out of my morning routine altogether, and limiting national news to 15 minutes. Most of the news I consume comes to me via the Internet anyway.
Most of us, I think, plow through the morning hours in an effort to just get on with the business of the day. I’m hopeful that the small changes I’ve decided to implement will help me create more pleasant and productive hours, both with my colleagues at work and with my family at home.