How you start your day can have a profound effect on how that day ends up working out for you. Morning routines matter.
Humans are creatures of habit. Habits can either be life-affirming, neutral or not so great for us. When you rise each morning, you have a unique opportunity — every day — to take time for yourself, build in some positive actions, and create an at-home routine that means that once you leave the house — and enter the maelstrom of the world — you’ve got yourself in the best headspace you can.
Morning routines go all the way back to ancient philosophy. Hindu philosopher Advaita described the morning as a part of the day with a special energetic quality to it; it is still, it is peaceful, it is enlightened in nature. Fast forward to the present day and personal development gurus like Hal Elrod are centralising the importance of morning habits in living a fulfilling and fruitful life. When Elrod released his book The Miracle Morning in 2012, he offered readers a productivity manual that was “guaranteed to transform your life” — before 8 am. Why listen to Elrod? Well, faced with lots of challenges in life — including two brushes with death and bankruptcy — Elrod became an international keynote speaker, author, ultramarathoner, and proud father and husband all by the age of 30. He attributes a lot of the momentum and success he’s had in life to the morning routine he commits to at the start of his day. This is what his miracle morning looks like:
- Silence: In other words, mediation. Some calm before the storm and a moment to reflect on life and centre oneself. We recommend trying apps like Headspace or Calm.
- Affirmations: These are a sentence of two in alignment with what you want to accomplish today. Say them out loudly, ideally. Stick them onto your bathroom mirror for a prompt.
- Visualisation: This involves training your brain to see things how you’d like them to be, not as they currently are. In Elrod’s words, you should “visualize living your ideal day, performing all tasks with ease, confidence, and enjoyment.”
- Exercise: Just get moving and get some oxygen to your brain. This could be anything from a morning stretch to a bit of yoga on the bedroom floor.
- Reading: A sure-fire way to fast track your life is learning from those who’ve come before. According to Elrod, “The fastest way to achieve everything you want is to model successful people who have already achieved it.”
- Scribing: In other words, writing something down. Anything. Your goals for the day. Your gratitude list. The one thing that you have to look forward to today.
Do those 6 things every day, says Elrod, and you should start to see an improvement in your productivity, outlook, and happiness.
But what are others saying about a morning routine?
Writer Mark Twain famously once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing the worst is behind you. Off the back of that observation, modern time management expert Brian Tracy wrote a book called Eat That Frog. According to Tracy, a good morning routine isn’t necessarily about life-affirming and peaceful habits. It’s about rolling about of bed and tackling — head-on — the biggest, hardest and most important task of your day. Take action immediately, don’t overthink it, just eat the damn frog, EAT IT.
Translate that to your morning routine at home and that can simply mean taking the first hour of your day at home to tackle a work task you know you’ll only avoid if you wait till you’re in the office. Or making your first task of the weekend the one you’ve been dreading — decluttering your closet — before you can leave the house to brunch. Or bouncing out of bed and, without thinking, climbing into your workout gear for the chilly outdoors run you told yourself you’d get to. Do your worst, first, and the day is a cinch.
OK, next. What do the nutritionists say about a morning routine?
From Detox Kitchen’s Lily Simpson to the Huffington Post, most nutritionists agree that a glass of water with lemon juice is the best way to the day to kickstart your system in the morning. Not only is it deeply cleansing but it’s a gentle way to nudge your digestive system and also offers a good kick of Vitamin C to boost your day. Aubrey Marcus, author of Own The Day, Own Your Life, suggests you actually add some sea salt to that lemon mix to reestablish your balance with a Morning Mineral Cocktail. Then there are those who believe in the benefits of intermittent fasting, advising that you skip breakfast, only drinking water and black coffee in the morning, and then eat between the hours of 12 pm and 8 pm (or any 8-hour period you choose). This gives your cells time to regenerate and your system adequate time to rest before having to work on digestion and elimination. It is also a great weight loss support and apparently an anti-aging miracle. You can read more about that in James Clear’s Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting.
Lastly, for those who believe that mornings are about enjoying time spent in the home before stepping outside to a whole world of responsibilities, here are 10 pieces of advice from HomeHero:
1. Make your bed – as the first step in your morning routine
If you want to change the world, start by making the bed. So said Navy SEAL William McRaven in his graduation address at the University of Texas. It’s the little intentions at the start of the day that affect how you approach the rest of it; be bothered. Plus, how good is it to return home to a made bed at the end of the day?
2. Brush your teeth mindfully
Find opportunities for awareness and self-compassion in your morning routine. Brushing your teeth is something you do twice a day and makes for a perfect opportunity to just focus on the repetitive action, take a moment to observe how your whole body feels, and take stock. Headspace recommends it, so do we.
3. Resist the urge to tidy
It’s incredibly easy to jump out of bed, move to the kitchen to make your coffee and then end up tidying and cleaning the leftover bits from last night for a full 20 minutes — just until it’s perfect. While it feels great to have accomplished something like a clean kitchen so early in the day, it’s not necessarily the most vital thing you could have done with that time. Oh, look at that, no time to do your yoga now or get back into bed with your coffee for a read. Prioritise what matters.
4. Exercise at home
One of the big blockers to exercise is the fact that you tend to have to leave the house to make your way to the gym, then spend 45 minutes in there, only to have to journey back. However, just 15–20 minutes of morning exercise at home can make a big difference, if done daily. Either use an app like Sworkit to do a simple workout in your living room or invest in technology for your home like a Mirror or Pelaton to make it even easier.
5. Brew coffee for a loved one
Instead of making morning routines all about you, take the opportunity to do something small for someone else as you start your day. If you live with a partner or flatmate, make a point of fixing them their favourite brew before you separate for the day. If you live alone, just send someone you love a text telling them to have a good day or that you’d love to catch up soon. Starting your day from a point of warmth sets you up for challenges later on.
6. Enjoy an aromatherapy shower
While a lot of self-helpers love to recommend an ice-cold shower every morning, we believe in the healing and indulgent power of the shower. Enjoy it. Waking up the skin and the senses goes hand in hand so treat yourself to a luxurious aromatherapy shower gel — like Tom Dixon London Body Wash or Byredo Gypsy Water — for some self-care before you leave the house.
7. Create a bedside table quote frame
Some people like vision boards or quotes on the mirror, we like photo frames next to the bed with one quote for you to carry through the day. Think about a quote that defines you this month, scribble it down and put it in a frame next to your bed. It should be the first thing you read in the day — and a part of your morning routine to inspire.
8. Practice gratitude for the home you live in (and people you live with)
If you have a roof over your head and a place to call home, remember to check in with that gratitude each morning as you have your coffee. The modern condition is that people constantly want and expect more from life — a bigger house, no flatmates, an upgrade on their interiors, a fancier apartment. The problem is, it’s an ongoing cycle of want. To be happy, check in every morning with thanks for where you are now, and with who. You got here, enjoy it.
9. Practice plant care
We cannot overstate the joy and soothing nature of having plants in the home. Make watering them and checking in on them a part of your morning routine. It’s a good reminder (again) to practice kindness to the world around you, rather than just yourself, all day.
10. Have one morning routine “treat” to get going
Are you the type of person who thinks you can have a treat only if you “deserve it”? Let’s just assume, for happiness’s sake, you always deserve one. Starting the day with something that releases serotonin and good vibes — whether that’s a great coffee, a kick-ass Bircher Museli bowl or a roll around with your partner — gets you in a good mood to take everything else on. Your day might get much harder, so take this moment to enjoy something for you.
So that’s our 10 — but the list is definitely not exhaustive. We’d love to hear some of yours in the comments.
Go get ’em, tiger.
HomeHero is a digital home manager, taking care of your chores, bills, maintenance and admin, to free up your time for what matters most.