Optimizing and efficiency are like my two favorite words.
I naturally believe we can always improve and improvement is next to Godliness for me. I mean why wouldn't you want to make something better?
Why wouldn't you want the BEST you can get?
As I move into my 40s however I am starting to think that while optimizing is important, what optimization is or even what it looks is different for each of us.
This past year I was reminded of this in two different situations. In the fall of 2023 I had to adjust my morning routine. I had been going to the gym at 5:30 for a long time...but my son's school schedule shifted and there was no way I could get to the gym and be back to help Jack get ready for school. So I needed to adjust - it just simply wasn't possible to stay the same.
The second situation was in guiding my daughter to help her develop her own morning routine. Her schedule isn't fixed the way mine is...life made it so that she had to put together something that could bend when she needed.
Where we tend to go wrong in situations like this is we just throw our hands in the air and declare we can't do it. I believe this is a HUGE mistake. Life doesn't always allow for that perfect optimization...but that doesn't mean we can't get creative and find something effective enough.
So my current routine looks something like this -
feed/water and let out dog
sit snuggled in my fav chair with coffee, journal and phone
meditate (10 minutes)
write in my journal (10-15 minutes)
day dream/self-reflection (at least 20 minutes)
go through my planner for the day
wake up my son
take a shower
How you spend your mornings is important. It sets the tone for the day. If you aren't already convinced of that I have some sources at the end of this post to help you find out more. I can say my personal morning routine is a major reason for my continued sanity. Without that time in the morning to self-reflect I would be a blubbery, anxious mess.
A functional morning routine increases productivity, positive outlook, and overall mental well-being.
I believe the key to a solid morning routine however is something personal and authentic. Something that works for you to do what you need. This is not one size fits all. Nothing in life is. We are all different and unique and need different things. Or another way to think about it is that how we get what we need might be different.
For example - we all need to eat. How, when and what we eat are totally different. So how do we do it? How do we build in a routine that works for us AND allows for some flexibility?
First - use those values of yours to decide what is absolutely non-negotiable and what are nice to have's. My non-negotiable in the morning is time to reflect and writing in my journal. Everything else on that list can be modified, left off or done later depending on what might come up. But those two things MUST happen if I'm going to set myself up for success. Once you know what yours are that insight can help you decide what to move around on a case by case basis.
Second - be mindfully flexible. What I mean by that is I can't just willy nilly not do part of my routine. If for some reason I wake up with a fever and feel close to death I have to actually take a moment to consider what, if anything, in my routine do I need to adjust. On Saturday when my son doesn't have school how much of my routine shifts and it what ways? I don't just wing it. I make a decision. And if I forget to make a decision I remind myself of that when I have to still deal with any consequences. Because not making a decision is still a decision. Exercising this muscle is extremely helpful in many aspects of your day - I can guarantee it. So make sure you just take a few seconds and decide in the moment what needs to shift and why.
Third - reflect and adjust. Nothing you do tomorrow is going to last the rest of your life. I'm sorry I just don't believe that is possible. I don't know I would trust anyone that said it was. The nature of life is change, It is unavoidable. And if you don't change with it you are likely not going to be happy or enjoying yourself. So on a regular basis just touch base with yourself and see if what you are doing is till working. Human beings (hell animals in general) have a natural inclination to just keep doing what they are doing. But if you can get into a habit of asking yourself once a year, twice a year, how things are going you might find ways to shift that will keep you fresh, excited and at your best.
I can tell you that having a morning routine that works for me is one of the greatest gifts I give to myself. It helps me be my best for the people in my life - which is my biggest priority.
There are TONS of places you can go online to get suggestions on what to include in a morning routine. Lord - ask AI...I'm sure the suggestions are very valid. The most important thing though is that it aligns with your values and priorities. Explore different things and give it a least a few weeks before you decide yes or no. Doing something, even if it is not working, will get you closer to what does work.
If you need some info on why a morning (or wake up) routine is helpful check out the resources below:
And if you are interested in a great video that looks at how to modify a routine to work for you check out this - I Made Huberman's Morning Routine Work For An Average Person (myself)
Whatever you decide to move forward with make sure you are enjoying it and it's helpful otherwise what's the point?
And don't forget guys,