Morning routines are important, but they’re often too ambitious and this can be counterproductive. We suggest picking 3 small things to start each day and building from there.
Everyone wants to start their day on the right foot, and there’s a lot of science that shows having a consistent, personal morning routine is important. But with so much advice out there, it can be hard to decide what to do and this often leads to indecision and fatigue before the day has even unfolded. It’s almost ironic that even thinking about having productive day can become counterproductive – decision fatigue, or “analysis paralysis,” is a real thing!
So, let’s sidestep the paradox of choice and the potential for “analysis paralysis” by embracing simplicity. Instead of striving to perfect an extensive and ambitious morning routine, we suggest starting small. Focus on three simple tasks, or “small victories,” to kick-start your day.
That’s the challenge. But first, the rules…
Setting the Ground Rules
In designing your minimalist morning routine, we recommend you follow a few ground rules. As you’ll see, these rules are about increasing the likelihood that your routine is something you stick with, even for the busiest of individuals.
- It’s important to recognize that you’re not alone: The task of creating an “effective morning routine” can be overwhelming. The paradox lies in the fact that the very thought of planning a fruitful day can be counterproductive. The phenomena known as decision fatigue or “analysis paralysis” can strike before the day has even started! And moreover, our willpower and self-control can be depleted – studies show that repeatedly resisting temptation drains your ability to withstand future enticements. The fact that you’re here now is something to celebrate in and of itself – you’re ready to make a change. But make things even easier on yourself by doing the same three tasks every morning. That way, there’s no decision to be made – “I just do these three things now” is an appropriate mindset.
- The tasks must be able to be completed in under 10 minutes right when you wake up: The point of this routine is not to start the day with an overly ambitious or burdensome checklist. Rather, it’s designed to help you and your mind achieve modest, yet personally meaningful victories. These little victories will create the framework for whatever else you’re going to do today.
- There must be one task in each of three categories – Mind, Body, and Spirit: The diversity of this routine is intentional, and the job is to jumpstart each of these systems which work together over the course of your day. Remember, this isn’t strictly a morning workout, or a meditative breathing exercise, or a mindfulness session.
- The tasks must be personally meaningful to you: If you don’t want to do these things, you won’t. It’s important that you believe these things are important to you, and you’re much more likely to stick with them.
- Avoid checking social media until you’ve completed your morning routine: Social media is highly stimulating and artificially increases dopamine, but it’s ultimately unfulfilling and can increase stress and anxiety. We want to create a mindset (and increase your happiness) through small accomplishments before checking IG or TikTok.
The Science Behind Simplicity
You might wonder, “Can such a minimalist routine really be effective?” The answer, according to science, is a resounding yes.
Mind(fulness), whether through meditation or journaling, has been shown to reduce stress, increase focus, and promote a positive mindset, setting the tone for the rest of your day.
Body helps kickstart your metabolism and assists in the flushing out of toxins, which can lead to better overall health and improved cognitive function. Light exercise, can increase your energy levels, boost your mood, and enhance mental clarity through the release of endorphins, often termed ‘feel-good hormones.’
Spirit, which includes optimistic self-talk, affirmations, and gratitude, helps you to remember what’s most important to you, builds contentment, and can focus your intentions.
Moreover, the beauty of this three step morning routine is that it’s flexible and adaptable. If an unexpected situation arises, you can adapt and adjust as needed.
Building your Routine
Now it’s time to build your routine. We’ve provided a list of options below that we like, but feel free to add something to it that you find personally meaningful (subject to the rules above – simple, diverse, repeatable!)
Mind (Pick 1)
- Envision your day unfolding seamlessly and triumphantly.
- Devote 3-5 minutes to deep breathing or meditation.
- Write down 3 realistic and achievable tasks for the day – pen and paper is best, but a draft email or text message to yourself works.
- Read 3 pages of book that inspires you – best if you keep this on your bedside table so it’s easily accessible in the morning.
- Review your schedule and mentally prepare for any upcoming challenges or meetings, and visualize how they’ll go well.
- Listen to a soothing song or calming playlist.
- Take a few minutes to make your bed and tidy up your living or workspace for a clutter-free environment.
Body (Pick 1)
- Stretch for a few minutes.
- Take a quick walk up and down two flights of stairs.
- Do 20 bodyweight squats.
- Do 10 push-ups.
- Dance to your favorite song.
- Eat a piece of fruit and drink a large glass of water.
- Spend a few minutes outside or near a window to get some natural light.
Spirit (Pick 1)
- Repeat positive affirmations or a mantra that resonates with you.
- Say three things you love about yourself.
- Send a heartfelt text message of appreciation to someone you care about.
- Engage in a few minutes of self-reflection and self-compassion.
- Create a gratitude list by jotting down 3-5 things and/or people you’re thankful for.
- Compliment yourself on a recent achievement or effort.
- Reflect on someone who you care about, and what specifically you value about them.
That’s it – now go do it
By selecting one small task from each category and incorporating them into your morning routine, you can experience three small victories that lay a solid foundation for the day ahead. Remember, the specific tasks are not as crucial as their impact on your mindset, body, and spirit. The key is to choose activities that resonate with you personally and help you cultivate a sense of accomplishment and positivity.
The point is not ambition or grand life-changing behaviors – the point is taking the same first step every morning, and letting yourself build from there. Starting each day with three small victories in the categories of mind, body, and spirit can truly transform your overall well-being and productivity. The power lies in creating a routine that works for you, focusing on manageable tasks, and building upon these small wins over time.
Embrace the challenge of designing your personalized morning routine and witness how these intentional actions shape your day and contribute to your long-term success. So rise and thrive, three small victories at a time!