Early-Morning Zen: Creating A Morning Routine That Works For You
Green Living, Lifestyle

A.M. Zen: Creating A Morning Routine That Works For You

Ever wish you could be one of those “early risers”? If you’re anything like me, you’ve watched those people with envy. All while slapping your snooze button 10 more times. But no more! Now, using these 9 great tips, you can create a morning routine that works for you. 

Waking up early is usually associated with iron-balled Wall Street execs and the elderly, but that just isn’t the case. Several studies have shown that early rising has no direct correlation on success or socioeconomic standing. But, early wake-up times are definitely a keystone to creating a positive chain reaction.

Before reading on, take a second to think about all the benefits you could reap from waking up early. Think about the possibilities of getting in a work out, reading that book, meditating, or taking a few minutes to journal. Rising early, even only a few minutes earlier, can offer you valuable extra time that’s hard to find in this day and age.

1. Rewards Are Key

One of the best ways to get yourself out of bed in the morning is a reward.

You don’t have to think big here. Instead, thinking small and is actually better. For instance, you could buy yourself an automatic coffee maker and schedule it to brew a pot at your desired wake-up time. The smell of coffee will wake you gently and the instant gratification will get you out of bed quicker.

Conversely, you can get even more creative with your rewards:

  • Drink a large glass of water just before you go to sleep. That call of nature is sure to get you out of bed quick-smart.
  • Don’t check any emails / texts past 6 PM. The excitement will wake you up and send you straight to your phone or computer first thing in the AM.

It doesn’t really matter what you use to get yourself out of bed, but be more creative than an alarm clock. Our brains are stubborn things, and mornings are not always their favorite time of the day. Do something that truly forces you out of bed – then reward yourself for the trouble!

Early-Morning Zen: Creating A Morning Routine That Works For You

2. Be Kind To Yourself

When integrating a new habit into your life, it’s important to not be too hard on yourself. Nothing kills a new habit like being overly-critical. The meaner you are to yourself, the less likely the habit is to stick.

Understand that you’re going to mess up sometimes.

Instead of being hard on yourself for mistakes, be kind and understanding. Know that there is going to be some mornings when you’ll hit that snooze button 20x. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you stay up too late watching that show on Netflix. Be honest with yourself, instead. Realize the reason you messed up and honestly assess how you can fix that problem. Maybe you need to go to bed a few minutes earlier, or skip that show on weeknights.

3. Have A Solid Evening Ritual

It’s only logical that a solid evening routine equals a solid morning routine. The two are inseparable. Think of them like two sides of the same coin.

If you don’t have a solid PM ritual, your morning ritual is going to suffer immeasurably. Whether that means waking up tired and grumpy, or not waking up at all, you need to have a solid foundation to build your morning routine on. That’s where the evening routine comes into play.

Set a solid plan for yourself. If you’ve never set an evening routine before, use a planner and write down the entire schedule of your routine in detail. A great example of an evening routine would be:

  • 8PM: Power down computer, phone and all communications with the outside world (i.e. email, text, etc.)
  • 8PM: Take a hot bath or shower.
  • 8:30PM: Meditate for 30 minutes or take 10 minutes to think about requirements for the upcoming day, followed by prep for the next day (lay out / iron clothes for the next day).
  • 9PM: Sit down and write out a prioritized to-do list for the following day.
  • 9:15PM: Brush teeth / read in bed.
  • 9:30PM: Go to sleep.

A routine like the one above will allow you to wind down and mentally prepare yourself for the next day. Using a routine like the example given will also help smooth out your morning routine, making it easier to stick to.

4. Device Power-Down

All our little devices and electronics might be great for keeping us connected with the world, but they aren’t great for helping a morning routine.

If you have an Apple device, simply switch them over to “Do Not Disturb”. This will allow phone calls, text messages and emails to continue to come through, but they will not make any noise or vibration to disturb you. If you’re dubious of “Do Not Disturb”, then simply switch your device to “Airplane Mode”. This mode (available on most smartphones now, not just Apple devices) shuts off all of your devices radios. That includes bluetooth, cellular and wifi.

Shutting off your devices will help you get to sleep better and faster. It allows your brain to relax and separate from the stimulation of socialization. This will also give you a greater sense of peace and easiness in the morning, and can work as a great reward for getting out of bed!

5. Reduce Your Blue Light Exposure

This is another one that we don’t always think about. Lighting, however, has a major impact on our sleeping and, subsequently, our waking patterns.

Reducing your exposure to blue light 2-3 hours before going to bed can have a major impact on the amount and quality of your sleep. Items that give off blue light include primarily cell phones and tablets. So, by turning them off a while before you go to bed, you allow your body to produce more melatonin (the chemical needed for restful sleep).

6. Say No To Caffeine

I will be the first one to admit that I’m a caffeine junkie, but caffeine can dramatically impact your evening and morning routines.

Caffeine is a stimulant, and consuming it in the evening will disrupt your sleep cycle and keep you awake longer. That means less sleep and more cranky morning ahead (when you will, undoubtedly, need more caffeine) – the vicious cycle.

According to the FDA:

“[a]fter drinking caffeine, it usually reaches its peak level in your blood within one hour and stays there for four to six hours…”

So what?

If you’re consuming caffeine less than four to six hours before bed, you’re pretty much guaranteeing a bad time. While you’re tossing and turning, trying desperately to fall asleep, all that caffeine is coursing through your veins; keeping you up and keeping you restless.

Do the math. Set a time at least 6 hours before your scheduled bedtime and cut out the caffeine after that time. You’ll be doing yourself and your morning a ‘YUGE favor.

Early-Morning Zen: Creating A Morning Routine That Works For You

7. Ease Into Your Morning

Trying to make huge changes overnight, no matter what they are, is just asking for trouble.

The slower you ease into waking up early in the morning, the easier the going will be…and the more likely the habit will be to stick! It goes hand-in-hand with tip #2 (Be Kind To Yourself) and is something important to remember. You have to start small and work your way up.

If you’re someone that gets up at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, don’t jump into a 5AM morning routine. Instead, start by waking up at 12PM. Once you’ve done that successfully for 2 weeks, try waking up at 11AM. Don’t jump into the water all at once. Toe your way in.

8. Anticipate

To be human is to error. That goes doubly with morning routines.

Take some time each evening to think about the day ahead and attempt to anticipate any problems you might run into. Think about your weak spots and where the pitfalls might run in your getting out of bed. If that’s hitting the snooze button, move the snooze button out of reach. If that’s being too tired in the morning, try going to sleep a few minutes earlier.

Always look towards the horizon of the next day and try and prevent the things that will slow you down or make you unsuccessful. Know that some days, you just aren’t going to want to get up. Do it anyway and be prepared for how difficult it can feel.

9. Honesty Is Always The Best Policy

Nothing truer was ever said.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting up a new habit is not being honest with themselves. Being honest with yourself about what keeps you from waking up early (or going to bed early) is key to forming plans and executing them with success.

This honest allows you to get to the root of your problems, and allows you to create plausible solutions to them. Only when we are being honest with ourselves about why we are or are not succeeding can we then become truly successful at what we set our minds to.

Really understand why you just can’t stop hitting that snooze button each morning. Be honest. Is James Cordon really that funny? Can you just not turn his show off, no matter how hard you try? Don’t be afraid to look at the root causes of what is preventing your morning routine from being successful. Only when you have discovered those reasons can you solve them and move on to being your best self!

Early-Morning Zen: Creating A Morning Routine That Works For You

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So, if you want to create a successful morning routine that works for you, simply follow these 9 tips. Remember to be honest with yourself, set realistic goals, ease into the routine, cut out the caffeine and electronics and be kind to yourself.

Having a morning routine is a great way to set a tone for your day. It’s also a great way to get happier, live more authentically have set yourself up for success. And hey, who doesn’t want to be just a little bit more successful each day?


  What is your morning routine? Let me know in the replies or on Twitter and Facebook!


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  1. […] a morning routine and getting out of bed before you have to are great ways to embrace the day. Mornings are a […]

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