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Morning routine

a new morning routine for the summer

Open your window and let the sunshine into your home. Make it cozy and follow Marie Kondo’s lead by making your new morning routine spark joy. Today I thought about the COVID-19 quarantine and how much we have accomplished by creating a new morning routine for the summer. If you follow this blog, you know that we have been working together in setting our new morning routine. So far, we have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done. Now, it’s time to put it all together.

Choose a preliminary time 

The best place to start is with the new set of tasks that are most important to you. Figure out a preliminary time during which you want to get these tasks accomplished. Maybe your goal is to meditate each morning so you may decide it would work best after you’ve had a cup of jasmine tea. Perhaps your goal is to find some time for reading the latest summer thriller. Maybe another goal is to take photographs of your garden for Instagram before everyone else gets up. The same applies for wanting time in the morning to work on your business or learn a new language.

Work the rest of your morning chores around these new plans. It may take some shifts in your current routine. With a bit of creative thinking, I’m sure you can come up with a working plan.

Making over your morning and turning it into a new routine isn’t something that comes natural. It takes a little while to step into the groove. 

Write Your New Morning Routine

For right now, my suggestion is that you write your new routine for the summer down in a journal or sticky note. 

It’s easy to forget what you’re planning to do. Writing it down will not only give you a reference, but also solidify your new plan in your mind. Place your new plan on your night table or somewhere else where you’ll see it first thing in the morning. It will serve as a reminder of what you’re intending to do and your action plan.

Even though you’ve written your plan down, it’s important to realize it’s not written in stone. Well-laid out plans don’t always work when put into action. Adjust your plans and make changes as needed. Create a new morning routine for the summer that works well for you and the rest of your family.

The Importance Of Habits And Routines

With your morning plan figured out, it’s time to not only to put it into action, but make it your new morning routine. Why is this important? It’s because you want to make sure that your new plan happens each morning. Turning your plan into a routine is the best way to make sure that happens.

Before something becomes a habit or a routine, you expend energy and willpower for things to happen. That’s energy that you will need for other things throughout your morning and busy rest of the day. Once you are set with your routine, it will become automatic like brushing your teeth before bed.

Stick To Your Routine

The key is to stick to your new routine for a few weeks. That’s the best way to turn it into a strong habit. Before long, it will feel like the new normal and you no longer have to remind yourself to do each thing along the way. It will take less effort and less growth mindset work to get things done.

Watch out for moments when you slip back into your old habits and routines. It’s going to happen. The key is to catch it early and get back on track as quickly as possible. For example, let’s say you’ve been doing well with waking up 30 minutes earlier and going for a run before you start your day. Then one day you oversleep and it’s raining so you can’t make it out there. That’s life. It happens. What’s important is what you decide to do the next morning.

Your most important job whenever life gets in the way of your new morning routine is to get back on track. Do what you can as soon as you notice the disruption. If the weather is bad, do a quick workout at home on the treadmill. If you overslept, try to squeeze in a few minutes of meditation. Most importantly get back on track with your regular morning routine as soon as possible. You’ll be glad you did when you start to see the results you’ve been hoping for.

Take Time To Review Your Morning Routine Regularly

Creating routines and habits for your mornings motivate you. They allow you to do what you need in order to move ahead. There is no need to spend too much energy or time thinking about it. That’s a good thing. It can also be a dangerous thing when you’ve focusing on the wrong things that don’t help you reach your goals.

When we get into a routine, it’s hard to stop and ask ourselves if it’s working as well as it should be. Even more importantly, with a routine and a set of habits firmly established, it’s easy to keep going even when our circumstances change. That’s why it’s important to take some time now and then to review our routine and habits.

Set aside a little time every few weeks, or even months to review your routine. Just put it on the calendar and make sure you do it. It won’t take long and it will be a very valuable exercise in the long run. Our lives and circumstances change. Our routines should change with the times. Just because something has served us well over the past few weeks and months, doesn’t mean it will continue to do so. 

When you sit down to review your morning routine (or any routine or habit you’ve been working on for that matter), ask yourself this:

Is it working?

If your morning routine works, simply keep calm and carry on.

If it isn’t then, it may be time to make some changes and tweak it until you find something that works well for you.

Another way to look at it is to find what you love and what you hate about your new morning routine. Change it accordingly until you get as close as possible to loving wanting to get up in the morning. 

Remember, this morning routine will change and evolve over time as you grow your mindset. You grow by accepting the circumstances of your life. Embrace the changes and look at them as an indication that you’re making progress.

Keep tweaking and improving your routine and don’t be afraid to mix up your goals for it. Maybe you started out by making exercise a priority first thing in the day. As time passes you reach your goal, so then you can switch focus to meditation or learning a new language. Keep evolving and keep using those precious first few hours of each day to establish some positive change in yourself and those around you.

Timeline graphic.

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Categories
Morning routine Time management

find time for morning meditation

To tell you the truth, mornings can be quiet hectic. It’s so difficult to find time for morning meditation. If you have a young family and children to get dressed and out the door, you know this first hand. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. No matter how busy you think you are first thing in the day. Earlier, I shared with you how the first few hours in the morning set the tone for the entire rest of the day. Do you want that to pull out you hair out of frustration? Do you want to be frantic? Or do you want to be in control? It’s up to you to make the change by embracing two simple concepts to form a habit.

Form a Habit

To form a habit, you form a three-part psychological pattern called a “habit loop.” First, there’s a trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic pilot. Neuroscientists have traced our habit-forming behaviors to the basal ganglia, a part of the brain. The basal ganglia deals with pattern recognition. Second, there is the routine that forms from practicing this new behavior. Thirdly, your brain receives the benefits of the reward, which is the peace found in meditation.

1. Get up Earlier by 30 Minutes.

It’s tempting to hit the snooze button first thing in the morning to catch a few more minutes of sleep. It’s even harder to set the alarm early enough that you have plenty of time for everything you need to get done. If you’re as lazy as I am, moving up the alarm by 30 minutes to carve out a little extra time can be rough. Think about your goal. You want to wake up to meditate. Be clear about what you want to accomplish. After those first few mornings, it won’t be so difficult and challenging; it’s something you’ll get used to.

Getting up early enough and avoiding the snooze button at all costs is the key to an unrushed morning. Here’s the problem with cutting time too short or hitting the snooze button too many times. It gets you behind even before you get a fresh start. You have to rush to make it out the door in time and any little challenge along the way turns into a huge problem. Like me, not being able to find the car keys is suddenly a major life crisis.

Remember, your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. If you start chasing down time and running around in circles, that’s likely how you’ll spend the rest of your time.

Make a new habit by getting up early and move on to a new morning routine. You are able to control what needs to get done. By taking one small step, getting up early enough, you set yourself up for a sunny disposition and an amazing productive day.

2. Restructure Your Routine

Spend a little time thinking about your current morning routine and where you’re spending time. Look for things you can change to find more time for the things you really want to do. For example, if you want an extra 20 minutes in the morning to meditate, look at what you could take care ahead of time. Plan, eliminate or delegate to make that extra time.

If you spend a lot of time running to Starbucks like me, get in the habit of calling ahead. Or get your spouse to get coffee ready, so all you have to do in the morning is push a button. Teach the kids to make their own breakfast. They should take the dirty dishes to the sink, rinse them, and put them in the dish washer. Make sure clothes are set out the night before and that book bags, purses, briefcases, and car keys have a designated spot. I keep my car keys in a hanger in the mud room. I’m ready to go each morning. Small changes like this to your morning routine can make a positive difference.

Think of yourself as a time saver! I challenge you to come up with a few small changes that will save you at least 30 minutes each morning.

Determine That Meditation Is Crucial to Your Well-being

Your morning is not about cramming a to-do list. Your morning is focusing on what is important. Sometimes when you read about time management, you star thinking that “doing” is the important step to become productive. Although, “doing” can create momentum, as a short term strategy but not long-term. The more you do without determining your outcome, the more likely you will burn-out and blame yourself.

To set out to meditate for 15 minutes, evaluate your current morning routine. Ask yourself what is the best use of your time in the morning. Compare your perfect morning with your existing morning routine. What aren’t you doing on your ideal morning? If you start by cutting things out, finding time to focus on what’ important to you becomes so much easier. 

When you start setting time for mediation in your morning routine, consider that the practice of meditation is important for your general health. The key word here is practice since it requires commitment, consistency and perseverance. By making time, for meditation your well-being will improve. 

Meditation is a mind and body practice that focuses on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior. It may reduce blood pressure and irritable bowel symptoms (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Meditation may help those who suffer symptoms of anxiety and depression. There are also studies that have shown that people with insomnia have improved their sleep through meditation practice. In short, meditation is beneficial for your health and should be part of your morning routine. It’s all about finding time for morning meditation. 

1. Eliminate Busy Work

Remember, the autopilot mode. Busy work is something you do out of habit that doesn’t have to be done every day. Even Elon Musk, sets up a system to check crucial emails pertaining to Tesla or Space-X in the morning. If you are doing it out of habit, then it’s time to rethink.

2. Earn Back Precious Time

The second way to quickly earn back time is to see if you’re doing things for others that they can do themselves. Kids are the perfect example. We start by fixing their breakfast, making their lunch, cleaning up after them, and making sure their backpack is packed and ready to go. When they are little. We focus on these things, but all too often we continue to do them long after they’re capable of doing things on their own. The same applies for our spouse. Maybe there was a time when you had less to do in the morning. It made sense to take on the majority of morning chores. It’s time to get help from your partner. A few small changes may be all it takes to make time in your busy morning for what’s important to you.

How To Find Time for Morning Meditation

The best way to plan for a morning meditation is to set aside double the time you will need. Let’s say that the meditation is for 15 minutes, then set up for 30 minutes in your calendar. The point is that you have enough time to complete the meditation and self reflect without feeling rushed. This extra time gives you the desired space to create a moment of self-compassion in your meditation. It shows that you are taking the first step to care about yourself. 

To meditate on the go, you can resort to YouTube videos such as this one on Mindful Poetry. This will the subject of a whole new blog post soon. You’ve already taken the first step to find time for morning meditation.

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Morning routine

daydream: what is your ideal morning?

As I drink my morning cup of tea, I ask myself what is most important now.  What is the one major goal that I want to accomplish in order to make a difference, but I just can’t seem to find the time for?  What good habits would you want to nurture to impact your life? Visualize this for a moment. It could be any area of your life from exercise, healthy eating to time management.  It could be working on your relationship with your significant other, finding time for creative pursuits, or getting in the habit of reading every morning. 

Once you have thought out what you want to work on, what needs to improve, and what’s most important to you, think about how you can make it part of your daily morning routine. Sit back with a cup of tea and daydream about your ideal morning.

It isn’t stressed or rushed. Most importantly it’s a day when you have time for everything on your list. Maybe it means having time for a long warm shower. Maybe it’s going for a brisk walk or practicing meditation before breakfast. Maybe it’s having a few minutes to connect on Instagram with your friends or maybe it’s carving out a twenty minute YouTube work out. Perhaps it’s time to work on yourself by reading self-improvement blogs, such as this one. 

Tip: Write it down in a journal or so like me you can refer back to as needed.

The key to a successful morning routine plan is to start with what’s most important to you and think about the different possibilities.  Become an options person like we discussed in the previous post. How could you fit it into your morning routine? Remember, this is the creative motivating step where we think about our choices.  We’ll work on the procedure of figuring out where to find the time to fit it in and how to make it all work out. For now, I simply want you to paint a vivid picture of what your new morning could be– I want you to become very clear on the visualization aspect so you can concentrate on your goals.  Imagine it in as much detail as you possibly can.

Why is this so important? Because you can’t start to make any meaningful changes until you know what your goals are. You need to know your destination before you can start the GPS and figure out the stops and turns on how to get there. Today’s task is about figuring out where you want to go.

Don’t stop until you have figured out your destination firmly pictured in your mind. 

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Meditation for Complete Beginners
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Morning routine

why you should makeover your morning instead of snoozing

Quick video on how to makeover your morning.

I love sunny mornings and rainy ones too.  Each new day brings fresh possibilities and a chance to wake-up to life’s challenges.  How you spend the first morning causes a huge impact on the rest of your day. It sets the tone for your entire day.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this yourself.

You set an early alarm to wake up and get out of bed. You plan to make time for a Yoga class or grab a cup of coffee. You have every intention of living your day to the fullest, but you never take the first step.

It happened to me before.  I planned to get up at 6:00 am and suddenly an hour had passed on snooze. Some mornings – hopefully, most mornings unlike me- you get up when the alarm sounds. It bolts you out of bed and you go for a walk outside. Then there are those days when you just can’t seem to get out of bed. You hit the snooze button multiple times, or turn the alarm off altogether, pull the covers up and go back to sleep.

Think of how the rest of those days went.

I noticed the difference in how I felt when I snoozed my cell phone alarm. I know that I yelled at Siri, but that’s another story.  I felt tired and sluggish.  I figured out that maybe my sleeping habits should change too.  Going to bed at 2 am isn’t exactly energizing the next day.  Maybe I should drink less caffeine.  I began analyzing my morning routine.  

Maybe that small change would be helpful to get more accomplished.  I set off to wake up on the first alarm.  I was able to carry through the morning without getting flustered.  Even the barista at Starbucks smiled kindly back when I thanked her.

This time around I was able to get to work without any setbacks arriving 5 minutes before my expected start. My routine was definitely smoother, but I certainly had a lot to work on since my to-do list hadn’t vanished into thin air either.

But face it, you might have a similar rushed routine too that might improve from a morning makeover.

In the next series of posts, I want to guide you through the process of a morning makeover. For the next day, observe how you feel carrying out your existing morning routine starting at the time the alarm goes off.   Write it down in a journal. Not only will you enjoy your mornings more, but it will also make the entire rest of your day go much smoother. 

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Morning routine

why I started a blog and a morning routine

My morning routine started the night before. It consisted of late-night social media posts, watching YouTube videos, and setting my alarm to 6:00 am but snoozing until 7:00 am. Hurriedly, I brushed my teeth and dressed for work.

But I needed to make a short stop before at Starbucks.

Why did the barista take so long to make me a flat tall white? Why were there so many people in line? Why didn’t I order from the iPhone app instead?

Does this sound familiar?

My mind was full of questions without any real answers. I stared at my watch as time ticked away. Clearly, I procrastinated by making excuses for myself.

This pattern repeated itself over time and what was supposed to be a joyous morning routine became painstaking when I arrived at the office. It became my new normal. I became accepting of this status quo of arriving rushed, flustered, and late.

And one day, my boss called me into his office. I thought that I was on the verge of losing my job.

It was like a scene of the Devil Wears Prada and I had to make a change right then and there. #befree #beyou

I took a centering breath remembering what I had once learned from Dr. Tara Brach that breathing will help me regain my balance. I inhaled, relaxed my body, and allowed my breath to connect to my inner wisdom and strength.

As I sat across my boss, I recognized the problem– I was a procrastinator. This was the hardest and most uncomfortable part of it all. But the recognition of the problem led me to a sense of acceptance. It wasn’t that I was accepting the status quo of becoming a procrastinator, but that I acknowledged that I was a procrastinator. I recognized the moment just as a moment without my mind adding more to it. It was the beginning of an act of mindfulness. I allowed the moment to happen and I offered my boss a cup of Starbucks coffee.

Then I probed the situation. Instead of asking the question of why I asked how.

How would I feel if I were the boss?

It was this act of investigating his feelings that led me away from my self-centered thinking. What was I believing? I started searching for truth without judgment.

But inside, I listened to those self-limiting beliefs that overpowered me. Yes, those beliefs that tell you that you are not good enough and that you are not worthy. I breathed and let them pass and concentrated on the moment.

I began by nurturing and showing self-compassion. I treated myself with child-like kindness. I imagined being bathed by a warm feeling that everything will be alright.

And it was. . .

In short, I started a morning routine because I wanted to be mindful of myself, others, and the time I spend with them. With this blog, I hope to inspire you to be kind to yourself. It’s never too late to start.

In my next post, I will show you how I developed a morning routine.

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